Prior to mining, miners generate segments of data known as plots that are saved to the hard-drive. The more plots stored; the faster a miner can mine. With every unsolved block, the miner’s hard-drive will search through the saved plots to estimate a timeframe for which it can mine a block if that block has not been found. Once the hard-drive reads through the plots, it will sit idly until the block can be solved. In theory, this means that HDD mining is incredibly power efficient and can be safely done on a laptop, unlike PoW mining.
Disclaimer: The author has no holdings in Burstcoin, nor has he ever personally mined Burstcoin.
The Burstcoin wallet is a web-based java wallet that requires some java knowledge to setup. The setup instructions are fairly vague, and a lot of people have been having troubles setting up everything they will need to mine. Miners will need to edit.BAT and SH files with specific perimeters that are not well documented. Generating the plots requires both significant HDD space, and time. To generate plots for a 2 TB hard-drive, the process could take up to 24 hours based on your computer’s hardware. HDD Mining with less than 1 TB at this point probably isn’t worth it.
I interviewed Magnus Gräsberg on his experience with HDD Mining.
How did you find HDD Mining?
I started mining in the Cloud with GAW and in their forum hashtalk.org I found a topic about HDDmining, after reading it and realizing I had a couple of Tb free, I became interested.
In your opinion, how difficult was it to get started?
I think many users find it hard to get started, and so did I. Now that I have plotted a few hard drives and have been mining for over a month its not really that hard, but for first timers it has a steep learning curve.
How much HDD space did you start mining with?
I started with only a few TB but noticed I did not get any coins so I added a few more TB.
I later found out that my USB 2.0 drivers were to slow. Now I only use internal hard drives and usb 3.0 drivers and I am currently using 8 TB of HDD space.
Have you ever mined any other coins on another algorithm, if so, what algorithms?
I was pretty late in the game on mining, I started with a few USB miners mining SHA256 with only a few GH before I discovered Cloud mining.
How would you compare HDD Mining to other algorithms that use computer power rather than space in terms of power efficiency and profitability?
I have not calculated the power usage of my computer since its on 24/7 anyways. I guess I figure it out next bill I receive from my power company.
Did you run into any complications while HDD Mining?
When I started I did not correctly configure the plotting files, and I wasted space by overlapping them. But other than that, no complications.
While Mining or directly after mining, did your hard-drive(s) experience any damage or noticeable under-performance?
I have not had any problems with any of the drives, although I have only mined for a little over a month.
Do you think HDD Mining will become popular based on your experience?
If they could make the software more easy to use I think a lot more people would use this type of mining.
Overall, what do you think about HDD Mining and its implications for the future?
I think as difficulty increase that ordinary people will not be able to keep up as you need a lot of free space to even get into the game.
After interviewing Magnus and researching the topic further, I have concluded that the risks of damaging hardware are minimal with this type of mining. PoC mining possesses little risk to damaging Hard-drives or other components of computers. In theory, incorrectly configuring the plotting files could overwrite saved files on your Hard-drive, or delete drivers which allow the Hard-drive to operate smoothly. If the drivers become damaged, nonsolid state storage such as a standard hard-drive could become damaged beyond repair. It is very important to backup all of your files prior to PoC mining in case you do something wrong.
Other than the risk of damaging drivers, the heat associated with running a PC 24/7 could damage laptops as they typically do not have the same heat dissipation capabilities as a desktop. If you are going to HDD mine with a laptop, be sure to monitor your system’s heat as excessive heat can destroy components of your laptop.
With the current difficulty increasing daily, you will need at least 4 TB of HDD space to efficiently HDD mine, also, if you are mining with less than 10 TB you should use a pool rather than attempt to solo mine blocks. If HDD mining were to become popular, it would first need to simply the process of getting started for users with less technical experience. Even following the instructions step by step, it is very easy for users with minimal Java experience to mess up and configure something wrong. If the Mining algorithm picks up in popularity, the difficulty will quickly outstrip the capabilities of a typical miner to keep up. It is unlikely for any miner to have more than 10 Tb on hand prior to starting PoC Mining. You will need to do your research to figure out of it would be profitable to purchase additional HDD space to mine this coin.
In theory, any hosted cloud storage server with Java capabilities would be able to PoC mine Burstcoin. While this would potentially make it easier for miners to PoC mine, they might run into additional complications while trying to configure plotting files on cloud space. If the algorithm picks up significantly, it might be possible to see hosted storage specifically built for PoC mining, though this also brings the potential of Ponzi schemes and bad business practices.
While HDD Mining is currently viable, the process needs to be simplified for miners with less java experience. Setting up the required files and software is difficult even for seasoned PoW miners. If the algorithm picked up significantly, the difficulty would quickly rise and make PoC mining unfeasible for any average miner, very similar to the way that ASICs made PoW mining un-profitable for GPU miners when mining SHA-256 and Scrypt based cryptocurrencies.
In conclusion, if there is a significant opportunity for a person with average hardware to make a large profit, that opportunity will quickly be removed by increasing difficulty, thus making it harder for the average miner to profit. While the PoC algorithm is very interesting, I believe that SHA-256, PoS, and Scrypt based cryptocurrencies will continue to be favored until the process of PoC mining is highly simplified.
Special thanks to Magnus for participating in the interview!
What do you think about HDD Mining? Comment below!
Images via Burstcoin and Shutterstock.