What is Bitcoin mining?

Bitcoin mining is the process of using computer hardware to do intensive computational operations (hashing) for the Bitcoin network in order to validate transactions; the hashrate of miners is how the Bitcoin mining network processing power is measured.  Miners collect transaction fees for the transactions they confirm and in turn are awarded bitcoin for each block they verify [called a coinbase transaction].

The benefit is that when miners validate transactions, they are securing the transactions in a block. Using a hash that is created from the transactions in the previous block, miners check the next block’s hash to verify it. Once verified, blocks link together forming an immutable blockchain. This process is called Proof of Work.

How hard is it to mine bitcoin?

The way the Bitcoin protocol works, it adjusts the mining difficulty every 2016 blocks, or around every two weeks. The reason for the adjustment is to keep the rate of blocks mined consistent. If more computational power is put toward mining, it makes the difficulty go up and makes mining harder. If for some reason miners leave the network and computation power decreases, mining becomes easier until the next difficulty adjustment.

There are many different miners located in various locations across the world. The distribution of miners globally is charted on the Bitcoin Mining Hashrate Distribution chart.