Putting your computer to work, but not yourself – Hacker Noon

In recent years, there’s been a trend for students with some technical knowledge and a computer set-up to make an income by mining cryptocurrency in their dorm rooms.

Mining took off in 2010 and became a popular way to make money for limited effort. Initially the domain only of crypto hobbyists, it rapidly gained wider attention and attracted tech-savvy students living in college accommodation. With access to an unlimited supply of free electricity, those willing to learn the skills necessary to set up a rig and mine cryptocurrency could set about making a substantial side-income from the easeful office space of the bedroom.

But things have changed, and the money is no longer so easy to make. These days, mining is so competitive that it has become the preserve of a just a few industrial-sized companies. It is no longer profitable for a “dorm miner”, even operating within a “mining pool”, which is a kind of syndicate of individual miners. Take the example of bitcoin, now mined using specialised processors, known as ASICs, which are many thousands of times more powerful than a standard computer. They are also expensive, require huge amounts of power, and are not reusable for other computing tasks — and so not reusable in your average student’s gaming computer.

Other cryptocurrencies can still be mined using more standard hardware. The greater the processor power of the computer rig, the better your chances of a successful return on your efforts, but this pushes the hardware investment costs too high, alongside the electricity cost of running the processors and the fans needed to keep them cool. The setup costs offset most if not all of the profits that are achievable, then, and it’s an arms race to keep up with the hardware used by others mining in competition.

It’s not an encouraging scenario, but if you are thinking of giving cryptocurrency mining a go, check out a range of online mining calculator tools and thoroughly research the best currency and hardware setup for your circumstances.

While cryptocurrency mining is no longer profitable, computer leasing — enabled by the same blockchain technology — is starting to take off. It allows you to rent out your computer power in a sharing economy that’s built with a distributed network of computers. If you have previously mined cryptocurrencies, you will have a suitable setup. Even if you haven’t, if you are a student or average home gamer, the chances are that you have hardware with the potential to generate passive income in its idle time, and you are less likely to fall foul of college authorities or parents by pushing up the electricity bill. Your desktop or laptop, and even your tablet and smartphone, can be put to work, as long as you can keep them powered up and have a half-decent Internet connection. You will need to have some familiarity with cryptocurrency, because that’s how you’ll receive payment.

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