A look at BTC Guild Mining Pool
Please note: This review is based on a relatively small amount of hashing, a few hundred ghs. The stats outlined in this review may not apply to larger miners. We hacked our antminer S1’s to mine nine pools concurrently, letting us run proportional power across a wide variety of mining pools. This review is part of our series of bitcoin mining pool reviews.
Update: 6th January 2016 – BTC Guild stopped mining in late June 2015, and shut down completely in December 2015
We thought we would have a look at one of the longest established mining pools from from North America. BTC Guild opened in 2011, and in it’s time generated nearly 32000 blocks. They started as a PPS pool in the start, but dropped this in early 2014, opting in favour of PPLNS after giving both options. It has recently readjusted some of its shift and payout settings to adjust for a falling market share, but currently holds about 5% of the daily bitcoins found.
Ozcoin operates using a Pay Per Last N shares reward system (PPLNS), with a 2% fee, although they share transaction fees which reduces this a little. They also merge mine Namecoin, which you can send to your wallet or sell on an exchange to effectively reduce the fee a little further. Signing up and setting up your workers is straight forward, although you need to manually create all but your first workers, unlike some other pools that auto create them. As soon as you connect your miners, and visit the various pages, your stats will begin to show. They also have EU and US based servers.
Working out your earnings is relatively straight forward. The day is split into ten shifts of 1.6 hours, and as a deterrent to pool hoppers, blocks found are not applied to your current shift, just those last ones. So depending on how the luck is, you can either find several blocks within this period, or none, and it takes a full 16 hours mining to throttle up to full earnings, and at the other side if you stop mining, you have 16 hours where you can continue to get some residual earnings.
You can set an auto payout amount of over 0.01 in bitcoin or namecoin. You can manually withdraw lower than this. Up until fairly recently, you could only request a manual payout at 0.001 and they charged a 0.0005 fee, but in the last few weeks announced a change to this structure, charging just 0.0001 to withdraw your coins and reducing the minimum amount. This makes it a lot more attractive than it was before for smaller miners. You can also lock your bitcoin address down for security, as well as setting up idle worker alerts. One thing I like in particular is the ability for you to export into excel a wide range of stats from the settings screen, meaning you can go over your stats in detail offline.
The pool owner maintains a very active thread on bitcointalk and is active on reddit too. The pool has a loyal base of users, many who seem to have been there for years, and despite some concerns recently that the pool may shut down with the bitlicense rules, it now seems to be here to stay, with miners rallying to it, and the hashing rate holding steady at about 14 petahashes. The UI is also very nice when compared to the older mining pools, with clear data and stats, but lacks the realtime elements of some of the newer mining pools on the block.
So in conclusion, BTC Guild is a solid mining pool. I mined with some leased mining from March – September, and suffered no downtime, and on my own hardware occasionally since. They are regularly finding blocks, have a really active and responsive admin. The main downfall is the payout system, as with a shrinking slice of the overall market, and worsening luck, I have had several times where I wasted an entire mining session and got nothing for it. So while there is the chance of higher rewards than PPS pools, equally there is a chance of finding less.
Adapting to a changing mining landscape
One of the oldest mining pools still in operation, BTC Guild has adjusted to a new reality, and still accounting for 5% of the overall mining market