When online backup provider IDrive tried their hand at mining bitcoin with a slew of servers at their disposal, they thought it might serve to be an additional way to bring in revenue.
How wrong they were.
The company says they own 3,000 servers, but for the bitcoin mining experiment, 600 were used (each with a quad-core processor clocked at 2.8GHz). The idea was to get the servers to mine the digital currency during the off-peak hours of 3AM-4PM (as most people tend to back up their systems during the night).
Using the assumption that the servers would run at 100 percent processing power around-the-clock, along with the linear increase of mining difficulty.
Our study projected a year of mining at 100% processing power 24/7 and the assumption that the difficulty of mining (the calculating of hashes) would increase linearly. (We also assumed that there would be no additional charge for operating our servers consistently at full power for an entire year.*) Since mining bitcoins is designed to take a certain amount of time to ensure legitimacy, as more people get involved and more power is added, the cryptography is made more complex to slow down the process. Therefore, as time progresses, more power will be needed to mine (and, thus, more airflow for cooling is also necessary). As a result, it will take more energy to mine fewer bitcoins, with the energy needed consistently increasing.
The result? A total of one year to bring in about $550, or 0.863 BTC, at the current exchange rate. But because IDrive would not be able to mine during peak hours, the actual gains from mining off-peak would be about 0.4315 BTC, or $275.
With reference to security, the company said:
Our servers are not currently optimized or configured to mine bitcoins. Running bitcoin software on our servers would require installing the bitcoin daemon on each of them as well as re-opening parts of our network infrastructure (that we’d previously locked down) to enable the bitcoin network to periodically access and talk with our servers. We do continuous network security audits to ensure that we don’t have any areas of our network open that do not need to be. Opening up our network for something non-essential, like bitcoin, seemed like an unnecessary security risk.
“In the end, we learned a lot about the interesting process of bitcoin mining, however, for us, the pros did not outweigh the cons,” the company said. “So, IDrive decided to stick with that we do best.”
It’s a reminder that bitcoin mining has gone past being a simple hobby. It, for a while now, has been big business. No longer are the days when an ordinary computer could generate bitcoins without hassle.