Do you ever wish you were around back in the early days of Bitcoin when it was possible to mine thousands of coins on your crappy old home computer? Today it is impossible to mine Bitcoin on a normal computer, no matter how good it is. Today you need an ASIC – a machine specially designed and built just for mining Bitcoin. Even after forking out thousands of dollars on one of those, it is notoriously difficult to even break even. Without one it is pointless even trying.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get involved with cryptocurrency mining using your home computer. It is still possible, and always will be, simply because it is something that people want. The idea of a network’s users maintaining the network themselves and being rewarded for it is the ultimate ideal of decentralized finance and has a romanticism to it which is entirely lost as soon as commercial giants take over. There are also other way, which aren’t quite mining, that you can let your contribute towards running a cryptocurrency network and get financially rewarded, which I will briefly explain towards the end of the article.

There are three ways to mine coins – CPU mining, GPU mining, and ASIC mining. CPU mining uses the regular processor which all computers have. GPU mining uses the graphical processing units of powerful gaming computers. ASICs, as I’ve already explained, are specialized machines built specifically for the task.

If you have a gaming computer or other reasonably high-end machine which comes with a GPU then you should definitely look into GPU mining as it will make you much more than other options.  There are a wide range of different coins that are good for GPU mining, and the best one (most profitable one) will change over time. Because this is about mining on any old ‘normal’ computer, the rest of the article will focus on coins which can be effectively CPU mined – that is coins which either don’t offer any advantage to GPUs or ASICs or which only offer a relatively minor advantage.

CryptoNote Coins

Any cryptocurrency which uses the ‘CryptoNight’ algorithm can be effectively mined with a CPU only on any computer. In fact, they do not offer any advantage to GPUs whatsoever. They also have the added advantage of offering greatly enhanced privacy and anonymity compared to Bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies.

Some of the most popular and profitable CryptoNote coins:

It is very unlikely that you’ll strike it as lucky as those early Bitcoin pioneers and end up seeing your coins increase by so many thousand times over just a few year. But you may have fun, earn a little, and perhaps see your coins grow in value as increasing regulation and government tracking of cryptocurrency makes anonymous cryptos like these more attractive.

Most CryptoNote coins can be mined using the MinerGate GUI Miner. MinerGatte is simple to use software, even connecting automatically to its own pool, and even has support for merged-mining: meaning that you can earn two different coins at the same time. The latest version also has an optional new feature which monitors exchange rates and will automatically switch to mining the most profitable coin. If you have multiple CPU cores you can choose how many to devote to each coin, and it will automatically adjust to run in the background using resources you don’t need; so it won’t slow your computer down or get in the way of other things you want to do with it.

 X11 Coins

Cryptocurrencies which use the X11 algorithm can also be mined with a regular computer. They do offer an advantage to people using a GPU, but it isn’t as great as with Scrypt coins. There are also a couple of coins which offer you the ability to improve your earnings by running a special node which provides services to the network – usually helping to provide anonymous transactions to other users:

  • DarkCoin: The first and by far the biggest X11 coin, Running a DarkCoin masternode and earning from ‘Proof of Service’ can significantly increase your earning. But you do have to have 1000 coins to keep in your node, which is no small investment for many people.
  • XCurrency: The poor man’s version of Darkcoin, also has a 1000 coin requirement for running a node which provides anonymity and content delivery services, but as the coin’s are much cheaper it is a lot smaller of an investment.

 Proof of Stake – PoS Coins

Proof of Stake, or PoS coins, reward users according to their stake in the network. What that means is that the more coins you own, the more coins you can earn simply by having the wallet software open on the computer. They do not do heavy calculation tasks like ‘Proof of Work’ coins, meaning it is totally irrelevant what kind of computer you own – just as long as it can run the wallet and connect to the internet you are good to go. But of course, the nature of the beast means that you need to make a big up front investment in buying coins in order to be able to earn a significant amount.

Proof of Science

Please do check out this related article: How to Mine Cryptocurrency for Science: Distributed Computing Rewards

Proof of Resources – PoR Coins

Proof of Work cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin and also like the CPU mineable coins listed above, reward users according to the amount of a particular kind of mathematical processing they can do. Proof of Stake cryptocurrencies reward people according to how much money they have invested in the network. Many imaginative and intelligent developers out there are working on various other ‘proof of’ algorithms which reward people in different ways and for different things.

One of the most common methods is to reward people according to how much hard drive space they have on the computer running the mining software. Burst was the first coin to take this approach with ‘Proof of Capacity’ – which allows users to ‘mine’ using empty disk space. It doesn’t actually do anything with that disk space, you just have to prove that its there. One nice thing about burst is that you don’t have to keep your computer on 24/7 to be able to mine – which makes it very energy efficient and virtually zero cost.

Upcoming projects such as Maidsafe and Storj aim to provide a way to earn crypto by providing disk space and other resources to a network which will actually make use of them. Storj aims to use this to create a decentralized cloud storage service, whilst Maidsafe has the much grander ambition of creating a whole new, server-less internet infrastructure.

Other people have even more exotic ideas, such as Zennet – which plans to reward people for plugging their machines into a distributed, decentralized supercomputer. I will keep this page updated with new developments as all of these exciting projects, and no doubt more, come into fruition.