How to mine cryptocurrency on hard drives?

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14.09.2021
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Plotting 2021

The crypto boom led to an inevitable shortage of video cards in some world regions, as enthusiastic miners went on a panic-buying spree. However, today the market is forecasting an acute shortage of HDD and SSD due to a new crypto player – the Chia token, which can be mined using hard drives.

Crypto fans decided to turn to crypto mining on their own equipment, as it doesn’t require large energy costs. And although mining on hard drives is not as popular as mining on video cards or ASICs, it allows to get coins without noise and dust, as well as without the round-the-clock hum of coolers.

Today we will tell you how to mine cryptocurrency on HDD and SSD, which models are suitable for mining, how to mine Chia cryptocurrency step by step, and how to calculate the benefits of this process.

General principles of hard drive mining

All miners remember January 2021, when video cards ran out on retail shelves. Then many wondered: what else can you mine on, besides the GPU?

And here the Proof-of-Capacity (PoC) algorithm, created in 2014, crossed the minds. It marked the beginning of a new type of crypto mining on hard drives.

Proof-of-Capacity work algorithm.
Proof-of-Capacity work algorithm.

The peculiarity of the PoC algorithm is the use of unnecessary physical memory of the device. Solutions for generating a new block in the blockchain are recorded on the free drive space, which triggers mining on HDD.

The mining community calls this process "plotting". A plot is a piece of memory on a device to store Chia or another currency. Once placed, it must be “cultivated”. The cultivation or plotting process involves expanding the plot to a certain size.

Thanks to the PoC algorithm, the developers have significantly reduced the power consumption of mining. Moreover, hard drives don’t require large investments, which is especially important in the context of fluctuating crypto rates.

Compared to GPU mining, HDD farms are characterized by:

  • low cost;
  • energy efficiency;
  • noiselessness;
  • easy setup that doesn’t require special knowledge.

But, of course, there are also negative aspects. The first and most important is the small number of available crypto coins. Today, you can mine Chia, Burst, Sia, Storj, and FileCoin on your hard drive. And the list ends there.

Moreover, a hard drive is not everlasting, it tends to wear out. But at the same time, a used hard drive is more difficult to sell than a video card.

And yet many people, despite the shortcomings, delve into mining on HDD and SSD.

What hard drives are suitable for mining?

When choosing a hard drive, it is important to pay attention to several parameters:

  • The amount of internal memory of the drive. This factor directly affects the level of mining profitability: the more memory, the higher the profit.
  • Spindle speed. This setting affects how quickly the computer can retrieve data from the hard drive.

The most suitable drives for mining cryptocurrencies today are:

Toshiba HDWD130EZSTA Seagate ST8000 AS0002 Western Digital WD Red Seagate ST10000 VN0004

Memory: 3 TB

Spindle speed: 7200 RPM

Cache: 64 MB

Cost: ~$100

Memory: 8 TB

Spindle speed: 7200 RPM

>

Cache: 256 MB

Cost: ~$155

Memory: 6 TB

Spindle speed: 7200 RPM

Cache: 64 MB

Cost: ~$250

Memory: 10 TB

Spindle speed: 7200 RPM

Cache: 256 MB

Cost: ~$500

How to mine Chia on HDD and SSD in 2021?

To mine Chia coin, you need to go through four main steps.

Step 1: Install Chia program

To find the program you need, go to the Chia official website and download the latest blockchain version. Don't panic if the process takes a long time.

After installation, create your own wallet, which will store Chia you mined. Select Generate New Private Key and 24 words will appear on the screen. Be sure to write them down and keep them in a safe place, as this phrase is used to access your wallet.

Stage 2: Start forming the plot

Go to the “Plots” tab and click the “Add a plot” button. To form one plot, you need 356.5 GB of free hard disk space. Wait for the process’s completion.

Stage 3. Start blockchain synchronization

After you have formed the plot, the synchronization of the Chia blockchain begins. And again you have to wait.

Stage 4. Start farming

Farming (as the project founders call the mining of the XCH cryptocurrency) will start automatically after synchronization.

It’s worth noting that with two drives and one plot, the production of one XCH coin can take from 2 to 8 years. So using a primitive computer assembly is pointless.

The main goal of Chia farming is to build plots in parallel. To get a tangible profit, a miner needs to optimize his equipment to create the maximum number of plots. In this case, one can be built for about 3-4 hours.

You can estimate how much XCH you can earn with a given hard drive using Chia calculator.

When using a calculator, the units of measure may seem strange to you. MiB (mebibyte) and GiB (gibibyte) are based on the degree of two rather than ten. Therefore, a mebibyte is 1,048,576 bytes, and a gibibyte is approximately 1.07 gigabytes. Without going into details, the values given in MiB and GiB are slightly higher than GB and MB.

Chia calculator

Profitability from hard drives mining

Now the payback of hard drive mining is almost negligible and is interesting to users who hope for coin’s large-scale growth.

So, with the current price of assets and the purchase of hard drives for $2000, you will be able to recoup your costs only in 3 years. Every 3 TB of free space on the HDD will bring about $9-10 per month.

It’s simply impossible to talk about some kind of extra-profitability with such numbers unless you got a bunch of hard drives for free.

Final words

Mining on a hard drive requires smaller investments since an HDD or SSD is much cheaper than an ASIC or a video card. Mining on hard drives also doesn’t require complex cooling systems and removal of hot air from the room, and, of course, it consumes less electricity.

However, this process has several drawbacks. First, there is a limited number of coins to mine. Second, used hard drives are much more difficult to sell. And sometimes their further sale is simply impossible since the high mining load leads to their premature failure. For example, Chia's continuous farming cuts the shelf life of a 512GB hard drive from 5 years to 40 days.

Summing up, it should be said that mining on HDD and SSD will be profitable only in a few years when this method gains momentum. At this stage of development, plotting cryptocurrency using hard drives will not bring tangible income.

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