When you are starting out in Bitcoin mining, you will often hear the term difficulty used. The difficulty does not refer to how hard or easy it might be to get started in the field. Rather, it refers to the difficulty of finding a hash that is below the target value, which is a 256-bit number, when proofing work. The difficulty often changes. It can increase or decrease based on several factors, which are discussed here.
How the Difficulty Increases and Decreases
When more miners join the network, the block creation rate will increase. With the added miners, it means the average mining time is going to decrease. When the mining time decreases, the difficulty of mining, or of finding a hash below the target number, is going to increase. As the difficulty increases, the block creation rate will decrease, and the average mining time will go back to normal. The average tends to be about 10 minutes per block. Then, as more miners join the network, the cycle starts again and continues in this fashion.
As new and more powerful mining devices are utilized to mine for Bitcoin, it can become more difficult to mine them. However, the difficulty of mining the cryptocurrency is regulated and purposefully changes over time, so that it never becomes too easy or too difficult to mine. The difficulty is recalculated approximately every two weeks, which is the time that it takes to get through mining about 2016 blocks. The difficulty is then adjusted based on how long it took for the preceding 2016 blocks to be mined.
In most cases, the difficulty is going to increase because there are more miners and more computing power involved. However, there are some rare instances of a decrease in the difficulty of mining. These do not happen very often, though.
When someone is starting out and investing in a mining system for Bitcoin, it is important to consider the current difficulty. This can give you a better idea of what type of machine you will want to have. By checking the difficulty, it also becomes easier to come up with an estimate of just how much your share of the rewards will be until the difficulty is next adjusted. Of course, with the constant changing of the difficulties, it can become hard to know where the difficulty is going to be over the course of several months.
This is especially true with the advent of the high-quality Bitcoin mining devices that are available today. These devices add more computing power to the network, and those who are using the machines can expect to have more profit. However, with the added power, it also means that the difficulty of mining the Bitcoins is going to increase. This is a perpetual cycle, and those who are going to be getting into mining Bitcoin need to be aware that they will need to have the best machines they can buy, and they need to be willing to upgrade those machines to stay competitive and to make money with mining.