Bitcoin mining pools are a system for Bitcoin miners to pool their efforts and boost their earnings.
This guide explains mining pools, how and why they work, and compares options.
How do Bitcoin mining pools work?
Without mining pools, there can only be one winner per block. The winnings are larger, but earnings are more sporadic and overall less likely.
By joining a mining pool, a miner can earn more smoothly and consistently.
Mining pools work by pooling the hashrate of all participating miners and then paying miners according to the hashrate they contribute to the pool.
Some mining pools will distribute transaction fees, others won’t. Some will take larger or smaller administration fees, will distribute block rewards more or less promptly and have varying reputations.
Your chosen mining pool can make a big difference to ensuring your hashrate is allocated efficiently, so it can be worth comparing mining pools to find the one that’s right for you.
Compare Bitcoin mining pools
All of the following pools are well-known and support Bitcoin mining, and many support other cryptocurrencies too.
|AntPool||A multi-coin mining pool based mostly in China and operated by Bitmain, one of the world’s largest mining equipment manufacturers||Go to site|
|BTC.com||A separate multi-coin mining pool also operated by Bitmain. Mainly based in China but has overseas servers||Go to site|
|Poolin||A prominent multi-coin mining pool created by the founders of BTC.com. Predominantly based in China with an emphasis on tools and features for miners||Go to site|
|SlushPool||The world’s first Bitcoin mining pool, founded in 2010. International and notable for a score-based system where miners accumulate higher rewards over time||Go to site|
|BitFury||The private mining pool of BitFury, a prominent mining equipment manufacturer. Not open to the public||Go to site|
|Bitcoin.com||One of the main Bitcoin Cash mining pools. Offers both BTC and BCH mining||Go to site|
|F2Pool||A well-known China-based mining pool. Offers a wide range of coins and tools for miners||Go to site|
The most popular Bitcoin mining pools
The breakdown of top Bitcoin mining pools as of 10 December 2019, according to Blockchain.com, is as follows.
How to choose a mining pool
There are several factors to consider when choosing a mining pool, including:
- Supported cryptocurrencies: You need to make sure your pool supports the coin you want to mine.
- Total hashrate: It’s generally considered healthier for the Bitcoin network if miners join smaller pools to distribute the hashrate more evenly, and this may affect total payouts, but this is overall more of an ideological preference than a practical one.
- Pool location: Most large pools have servers all over the world, so this is also more of an ideological than a practical consideration.
- Fees: All pools will extract some costs from miners and charge fees of some kind or withhold parts of the mining rewards.
- Security: Some pools have better security measures than others. Look for two-factor authentication and other ways a pool can ensure your funds are safe.
- Tools and features: Some pools will offer useful tools and additional features to help you better manage and monitor your hashrate contributions.
- Customer service, community and documentation: It can be useful to know that you will be able to find assistance with any technical or other issues you encounter.
- Profitability: A lot of factors go into the overall profitability, including fees, mining mode, whether transaction fees are shared with the miners, how well your hashrate is utilised and similar.
- Reward type: One of the biggest differences is reward type. Sometimes a pool will offer different reward types for the same coin with different fees, and available modes will vary by pool and cryptocurrency.
|Mining mode||How it works|
|Pay per share (PPS)||Miners sell their hashrate directly to the pool at an agreed-upon rate, instead of sharing block rewards.|
Miners get paid regardless of whether the pool is lucky enough to get blocks, but the safety is often offset by higher fees.
|Pay per last N share (PPLNS)||This mode sees miners paid based on how many blocks were successfully mined over a period during which they were contributing hashrate to the pool, relative to their contribution.|
|Pay per share+ (PPS+)||A hybrid of PPS and PPLNS where miners get fixed pay for their hashrate contribution, but can also earn additional pay, such as from transaction fees, for contributions over a period of time.|
|Full pay per share (FPPS)||PPS but also shares transaction fees with miners.|
|Score||Miners get paid according to their total contribution to the pool over time.|
How do I join a mining pool?
Join a mining pool by comparing the available options and then visiting the website and creating an account.
Mining pools can make it a lot easier to mine Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and help ensure smoother and more frequent rewards, so it’s an important consideration for cryptocurrency miners.
But getting the most out of mining still means starting with a solid knowledge of how Bitcoin mining works, finding the right mining software and making sure you have the required hardware.
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