A cryptocurrency (or crypto currency) is digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses strong cryptography to secure financial transactions, control the creation of additional units, and verify the transfer of assets. Cryptocurrency is a kind of digital currency, virtual currency or alternative currency. Cryptocurrencies use decentralized control as opposed to centralized electronic money and central banking systems. The decentralized control of each cryptocurrency works through distributed ledger technology, typically a blockchain, that serves as a public financial transaction database.
A blockchain, originally block chain, is a growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked using cryptography. Blockchains which are readable by the public are widely used by cryptocurrencies. Private blockchains have been proposed for business use.p>
In cryptocurrency networks, mining is a validation of transactions. For this effort, successful miners obtain new cryptocurrency as a reward. The reward decreases transaction fees by creating a complementary incentive to contribute to the processing power of the network. The rate of generating hashes, which validate any transaction, has been increased by the use of specialized machines such as FPGAs and ASICs running complex hashing algorithms like SHA-256 and Scrypt. This arms race for cheaper-yet-efficient machines has been on since the day the first cryptocurrency, bitcoin, was introduced in 2009. With more people venturing into the world of virtual currency, generating hashes for this validation has become far more complex over the years, with miners having to invest large sums of money on employing multiple high performance ASICs. Thus the value of the currency obtained for finding a hash often does not justify the amount of money spent on setting up the machines, the cooling facilities to overcome the enormous amount of heat they produce, and the electricity required to run them.
Cloud Mining is the process of bitcoin mining utilizing a remote datacenter with shared processing power. This type of cloud mining enables users to mine bitcoins or alternative cryptocurrencies without managing the hardware. The mining rigs are housed and maintained in a facility owned by mining company and the customer simply needs to register and purchase mining contracts or shares.
Hash Rate - A hash is the output of a hash function and, as it relates to Bitcoin, the Hash Rate is the speed at which a compute is completing an operation in the Bitcoin code. A higher hash rate is better when mining as it increases your opportunity of finding the next block and receiving the reward.
Typically, a hash rate is measured in the following units:
- hash/second (H/s);
- megahash/second (MH/s);
- gigahash/second (GH/s);
- terahash/second (TH/s);
- petahash/second (PH/s).
Difficulty is a parameter that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies use to keep the average time between blocks steady as the network's hash power changes.
A transaction is a transfer of Bitcoin value that is broadcast to the network and collected into blocks. A transaction typically references previous transaction outputs as new transaction inputs and dedicates all input Bitcoin values to new outputs. Transactions are not encrypted, so it is possible to browse and view every transaction ever collected into a block. Once transactions are buried under enough confirmations they can be considered irreversible.
A cryptocurrency wallet stores the public and private keys which can be used to receive or spend the cryptocurrency. A wallet can contain multiple public and private key pairs. As of January 2018, there are over thirteen hundred cryptocurrencies; the first and best known is bitcoin. The cryptocurrency itself is not in the wallet. In case of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies derived from it, the cryptocurrency is decentrally stored and maintained in a publicly available ledger. Every piece of cryptocurrency has a private key. With the private key, it is possible to write in the public ledger, effectively spending the associated cryptocurrency.
In order to get started mining, cryptocurrency miners will need dedicated computer hardware with a specialized graphical processing unit (GPU) chip or application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), sufficient cooling means for the hardware, an always-on internet connection, a legitimate cryptocurrency mining software package, and membership in both an online cryptocurrency exchange as well as an online mining pool.