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How to Mine Ethereum Classic In 2021

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Mining is the bedrock of proof-of-work cryptocurrencies like Ethereum Classic. With mining, a cryptocurrency network can process blocks of transactions and add them to the blockchain and thus help to keep the network secure.

Some coins allow for standalone mining (solo mining), while the best way to mine others is via a mining pool. For this reason, understanding factors like hashrate and mining difficulty is critical before you start. In this tutorial we give you a comprehensive overview of these, letting you know how to mine Ethereum Classic.

Breaking Down Ethereum Classic Mining

Mining Ethereum Classic is set to gain massive traction as the main Ethereum blockchain switches to its new Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism. Many Ethereum miners with PoW setups may be forced to relocate to the ETC blockchain. The sections below explain in detail what Ethereum Classic mining is, including how its Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus mechanism works. We also highlight some limitations of mining this coin.

What is Ethereum Classic Mining?

Ethereum Classic is a cryptocurrency that relies on mining, just like other PoW coins like Bitcoin and Litecoin.

As a decentralised open-source platform, no single central entity has control over its ledger. In this case, anyone is welcome to participate in the creation of new coins, with this process achieved via a network of computers that agree on the validity of transactions and hence newly created coins.

To mine a new block, a miner must be the first to find a specific value in a hash (code) called a ‘nonce’. Miners need to perform numerous calculations within a block generation time of 15 seconds, trying to guess the nonce in order to create the block.

Once a miner finds this value, they proceed to announce the new block to the rest of the miners. The verification process then ends with a new block being added to the main chain in the blockchain. The miner who solves the difficult computational problem unlocks a block reward in the form of new ETC coins. They also earn revenue in the form of transaction fees attached to the newly mined block.

Why are Ethereum Classic Miners Important?

Mining is the trustless decentralized mechanism by which Ethereum Classic secures the network, and to achieve this, the network needs miners. It is miners that deploy their computing power to process transactions and secure the network against 51% (double spend) attacks.

For a double-spend attack to happen, a malicious actor seeks to spend the same digital currency unit more than once. The attacks occur when a rogue miner reorganizes the blockchain and steals funds, or spends what has already been spent.

Most often, double-spends or 51% attacks are a problem suffered by smaller blockchains that have very little in terms of computing power or hashrate. When it is easy to gather more than half of the networks' total computing power, it becomes easier for nefarious actors to execute a 51% attack.

To guard against such disruptive attacks, blockchain networks rely on a distributed network of miners. The miners are incentivised to work together to identify valid transactions, with all unverified ones disregarded.  Providing an incentive, such as new coin issuance, helps to compensate miners, and motivates them to continue using their energy to secure the blockchain.

Ethereum Classic Mining Limitations

Ethereum Classic voted to fix its maximum supply at a cap of 210,700,000 ETC in December 2017. The cryptocurrency, therefore, adopted a monetary policy that means there will only be that fixed amount of ETC coins in circulation. Not one entity can change that, or print more to mitigate economic crises like governments have recently done with fiat currencies.

As for ETC, newly created coins come into circulation every 15 seconds, with miner rewards per block also reducing overtime. 

Unlike Bitcoin that sees block rewards cut by half (50%) every 210,000 blocks, the Ethereum Classic protocol allows for a 20% reduction in block rewards every 5,000,000 blocks. During the last such reduction, the reward reduced from 4 ETC to 3.2 ETC. The next block reduction - from 3.2 ETC to 2.56 ETC - is set for block height 15,000,000. This is expected to be reached around April 2022.

With the tokenomics aiding how Ethereum Classic handles inflation, another thing to note is that this mechanism works within protocol rules of network difficulty. Also called mining difficulty, this is a feature of the mining process that allows for adjustments to how hard it is to find a new block and add it to the blockchain. 

Difficulty increases or reduces with miners, which means it adjusts down if miners reduce and up if the number goes up. All these happen to keep the block generation time within the 15 second limit.

Tip to Mine Ethereum Classic Efficiently for Greater Profits

There's no one-size-fits-all trick to crypto mining, but as our research has shown, there are tips that can help you get it right. To mine Ethereum Classic more efficiently and to earn regular profits from doing so, you need to do two things: invest in a good mining rig, and then join a reputable Ethereum Classic mining pool. The former ensures you have more hashrate to contribute to the pool and the latter will win new block rewards regularly, from which you can earn payouts as per your share of computing power.

Technical Aspects of Mining Ethereum Classic Explained

The technical aspects of mining cryptocurrency can be a bit confusing. However, it should be noted that one can still mine coins without diving deep into the technical nitty-gritty of mining. That's why this section will simplify two key aspects of mining: hashrate and processing power. Find out below, including how much of the latter is needed to mine Ethereum Classic.

Hashrate Simplified for Ethereum Classic

What does hashrate mean?

Hashrate simply refers to a measure of the computing power that a network of miners uses in securing a blockchain. The metric also measures how much computing power a mining device has, and the speed at which a miner can calculate and broadcast the correct block.

How is hashrate measured?

Hashrate is measured in hashes/second, which takes into account the number of calculations possible per second using the given computational power.

Hashrate is often accompanied by common prefixes like K (kilo), M (mega), G (giga), or T (tera).

  • 1Kh/s means 1,000h/s
  • 1 Mh/s means 1,000 Kh/s
  • 1 Gh/s means 1 000 Mh/s
  • 1 Th/s means 1 000 Gh/s, 1000,000,000,000 h/s

Gigahashes per second (Gh/s) stands for 1 billion hashes, terahashes per second (Th/s) for 1 trillion hashes, and petahashes per second (Ph/s) for 1 quadrillion hashes.

Why is a higher hashrate important?

For miners, having access to high hash power means increased capacity to mine for new coins. This applies to Ethereum Classic too, which has seen mining become more difficult and less efficient for devices with a lower hashrate.

A high hashrate for the Ethereum Classic network is also crucial, as this translates to more miners contributing towards network security.

Ethereum Classic suffered two 51% attacks, in 2019 and 2020, because its total hashrate was much lower, allowing bad actors to seize control and execute the attacks. The hashrate has since increased, and more miners are joining the network as the main Ethereum blockchain abandons PoW mining protocols. Currently, Ethereum Classic's network hashrate stands at 8.18 Th/s.

Processing Power: CPU & GPU

In mining, processing power relates to how fast your computer's processor works towards getting new coins. The more powerful your processor is, the more hashrate it's likely to give you.

In the early days, miners relied on the processing power of their consumer-grade computers to mine cryptocurrencies. Therefore, having a good central processing unit (CPU) was enough for one to start mining. 

However, as crypto began to attract more people and miners, the processing power increased. The CPU was now not so efficient and miners turned to the graphics processing unit (GPU). These video cards offered higher processing speeds and continue to work well with mining several cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum Classic.

Some coins, however, needed much higher hashrates, and the industry welcomed field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). These devices offered higher mining speeds with less power consumption than GPUs. But even that wasn't good enough when Bitcoin's network hashrate grew exponentially, leading to the development of even more powerful mining devices, named application-specific integrated circuit miners (ASICs).

ASICs are very powerful and can offer more than 100 Th/s, several times higher than GPUs. CPU mining is now largely obsolete after an explosion in mining difficulty for most coins.

Whether it's GPU or ASIC mining you are considering, you need to note that these devices generate a ton of heat. You need to check on cooling as that can be the difference between profitable mining and loss of equipment due to overheating.

Hashrate needed to mine Ethereum Classic profitably

It is estimated that mining 1 ETC takes about 440 MH/s of processing power from a GPU mining rig. Currently, Ethereum Classic's network hashrate is 8.18 TH/s, which is quite low compared to where it was in January 2020. However, with Ethereum miners set to turn to ETC with the advent of Eth 2.0, the hashrate could see significant growth.

This low hashrate is actually good for prospective miners as it allows for GPU mining, making it attractive to new miners looking to get some quick exposure to mining. You can see ETC’s hash rate over time in the chart below.


Ethereum hashrate chart. Source: TokenView


Pros and Cons of Mining Ethereum Classic

Pros

Supports GPU mining, making it great for solo mining
You earn ETC rewards that can be cashed out or stored for future profit
Dedicated developer team that aims to steer the coin towards global adoption
Will continue to be mineable until all coins are released
Widely accepted and supported on major exchanges, making it easy to sell or trade

Cons

Competition means earnings are likely to reduce
You can lose money if prices crash, as is possible within the crypto market
Potential of new 51% attacks, as network hashrate is still relatively low

DIY Ethereum Classic Mining - How to Get Started

How to get started mining is always the biggest question. Here we look at how easily you can set up a DIY mining operation for ETC, with details on what type of hardware and software is best for Ethereum Classic mining. The issue of cost is key and we tell you what you need to take into account before you start.

Best Mining hardware for Ethereum Classic

Right now, the most popular hardware for mining Ethereum Classic is the GPU. As noted earlier, CPU mining is obsolete, which has seen miners seek out the best graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD. To understand why GPU mining of ETC is best, let's explain Ethereum Classic's upgrade that changed its mining algorithm.

Ethereum Classic is a proof-of-work coin, whose hashing algorithm relies on miners to secure the network. Initially, the cryptocurrency used the Ethash mining algorithm, which had over time seen the development of ASIC miners. As such, it was easy for one to rent hash power from NiceHash and use it to mine ETC, with some bad actors taking advantage of this to execute double-spend attacks.

However, that changed in 2020 when ETC developers tweaked the algorithm and introduced the Etchash consensus mechanism to guard against the use of specialized equipment in mining the chain.

The changes occurred via the Thanos hard fork implemented in November 2020, with Ethereum Classic making it difficult to mine ETC with ASICs designed for Ethash. It also meant miners could not rent hashing power from Ethash providers like NiceHash to mint ETC coins.

Notably, the upgrade saw a reduction in the size of the network's DAG file. With the size of the DAG decreased, GPUs with less RAM (3 or 4 GB) were able to mint new blocks, which will continue until file size means users need to upgrade.

When it comes to hardware, the best GPUs are those high-end graphics cards that pack decent processing power for mining. Nvidia's RTX 3090, GeForce GTX 1080, and GTX 1080 Ti are top choices. You can also mine using AMD cards, including the Radeon VII that packs up to 105 MH/s per GPU.

You need about 6 of these GPUs to assemble a decent rig that will allow you to mine Ethereum Classic. As such, the cost will depend on the graphics card, with costs varying from as low as $500 to over $3,500.

Other Costs to be Considered

Another requirement for the hardware is RAM, with a minimum of 3GB RAM as noted above.  A power supply unit is another financial requirement you need to factor into the overall cost. For example, a simple 850 watt supply unit like the Corsair HX will set you back $198, which could increase if you need more than one. Other than that, you need a cooling system and a motherboard. Once the rig is set up, electricity costs will apply, with the advice being to ensure you mine in a region that offers cheap electricity to increase profitability.

Start Mining!

You are ready to start mining once the hardware is set up. The next step is to download and install mining software.  There are several software options for ETC miners, but the best ones are GMiner and NBMiner. Other options include Claymore Dual Ethereum, Ethminer, and MinerGate. Ensure the software supports your GPUs and works on your chosen operating system.

Once you have the mining software, join a mining pool and then configure the software to add your pool address and the wallet address through which you'll receive mining rewards. Some of the top mining pools to consider for ETC mining are Ethermine.org, f2pool, MiningPoolHub, Nanopool, and 2Miners.

Mining Solution/Services

Mining is a competition, which means you are constantly challenging to be the first to solve the mathematical puzzle and earn the block reward. But this can be quite complex and thus unprofitable, especially if you decide on solo mining.

Why is this likely to be the case? Successful mining depends on your hashrate, and the higher it is, the higher your chances of winning the block reward. So an individual looking to mine using a simple GPU can still mine ETC but would find it difficult to compete against a large mining farm or pool looking for the same block of transactions. That's why as a miner, you are best placed to mine Ethereum Classic as part of a mining pool.

Mining pools are services that allow miners to combine their computing power and work together to mine ETC. It's different from solo mining, which sees you working alone. Think of it this way - if you start mining and get zero blocks, then your reward will be zero.

In a mining pool, you get a share of the block rewards proportional to the computational power you contribute to the mining process. If you contribute 5% of the hash power, you will receive a payout equivalent to 5% of the 3.2 ETC block rewards that are won (plus transaction fees if the mining pool also shares revenue earned from fees).

Remember that different mining pools offer different payout plans. Many use the pay per share (PPS) plan, which guarantees you regular income whether the pool successfully mines ETC or not. A full pay per share (FPPS) scheme is similar to PPS, only that miners also get a share of the transaction fees.

When looking for a mining pool, consider the pool's joining fees, total hashrate, server locations, and active miners. Also look out for its reputation from miner reviews, with more decentralized mining pools often offering a better option.

If you want, you can also try Ethereum Classic cloud mining, which works well for those not into acquiring hardware or finding cheap electricity to cut on mining costs.

Cloud mining services allow you to buy mining contracts, with the actual mining and running of mining hardware done by a third party. This third party is a mining provider that runs large data centers and rents out their hash power to mine ETC. Just pay for a contract and get started mining.

However, beware of potential risks related to unprofitable contracts and the fact that your contract is time-locked. So, if prices fall significantly and your contract makes no profits, you cannot opt-out of the deal and will likely lose your money.

One of the best ETC cloud service providers is Eobot. While other services exist that cater to several coins, Eobot has distinguished itself as a reputable cloud mining service for Ethereum Classic.

It's easy to access, offers competitively priced mining contracts, and has a great track record on payouts. You can get a contract to mine Ethereum Classic for a year, 5 years, or even 10 years if you wish.

Where to Save my Coins After Mining?

Mining Ethereum Classic is similar to other mineable coins, which means you need somewhere safe to store the mined cryptocurrency. That's why you need to set up a secure wallet for your ETC. There are several wallet options to choose from, but whichever selection you make needs to guarantee you the highest level of security. Our top recommended wallets that you can check out are listed below.

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