Ethereum mining is best done by joining a mining pool so that there is a steady stream of Ether's into your wallet and in this guide we will show you a step by step process to do just this. In our "How to Mine Ethereum on a Windows PC" we showed you how to install all the software to get your computer mining with its graphics card and failing that, with its CPU. However this isn't the whole process, as when you mine on your own the chance of finding a block is incredibly small considering the total amount of hashing power in the network - so the best option is to join a mining pool to smooth the volatility of returns - you can read about the benefits of joining a bitcoin or ethereum mining pool here.
1 - Making sure you have an Address
Step 1: If you have gone through our guide here on how to set up your computer to mine ethereum you are most of the way there - in fact all you need is an address which you can get from the EthDev wallet - which is basically a nice interface to doing exactly the same process. The reason you need a wallet or address is to tell the pool where to pay your money! You don't need to sync the blockchain - the mining pool provider will do this for you!
2 - Connecting to a Pool
Step 2: Once you have an address you need to start ethminer - and if you haven't installed this you can do so by following the section.
2.1 Now you need to download Ethminer which makes your GPU or CPU run the hashing algorithm that is integral to securing the Ethereum network through proof of work. You can download this here and be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page to get the right version - the latest and most up to date one is right at the end.
2.2 Click on the download and click install. Your firewall can cause issues but just click allow if it does so - the same is true of windows that doesn't recognise or approve the software - tell windows its ok when asked. Click through the installation process until Ethminer is installed.
2.3 You need to open up another command prompt as in step 4 - so your going to get two scary looking boxes. Simply click right click on your already open command prompt in the taskbar at the bottom of the page and click on command prompt in the menu that appears. A new command prompt should open with C:\users\username>. This is the wrong place to look for ethminer so you need to tell it the right place to find it.
2.4 Type "cd /" into the newly opened command prompt which should look like this "C:\users\username>cd /" and then press enter. You should now see "C:\>", You have just used the "cd" command or "change directory" command to make command prompt look at the C:/ drive - not your user file.
2.5 Type in cd prog and then press the tab button. This should look like this "C:\>cd prog" and then press "tab" which will automatically complete the phrase for the closest fit found in the C: drive just like autotext does on your Iphone. After pressing "tab you should see C:/> cd "Program Files" and press enter which should give you a new line saying C:\Program Files>.
2.6 Type in cd cpp and then press tab and then enter. This is taking you into the newly installed Ethereum Mining software folder. And this should look like this after pressing tab C:\Program Files>cd cpp-ethereum and pressing enter gives you C:\Program Files\cpp-ethereum>
Step 3: Now that you have an ethereum address and you have installed and got Ethminer up and running you need to tell ethminer what to do - and this basically means telling ethminer to connect to your mining pool and telling the mining pool where to send your mined altcoins - your address.
Step 4: Choosing an Ethereum mining pool can be a bit tricky and you can look at our guide here on how and why to pick them. For the sake of argument we have chosen nanopool which have this connection here:
You need to first add your address to this - ours looks like this 0x154230ed91d1e711e56b9c0f88b5ba5fd2b0503f (so if you are feeling generous tip us some ethereum for this guide!)
You should end up with something like this.
Then you need to type into your Command Prompt box from step 2 the following:
ethminer.exe -F http://eth1.nanopool.org:8888/0x154230ed91d1e711e56b9c0f88b5ba5fd2b0503f -G
Now you are connected and mining you should start receiving ethereum to your address. However this depends on what you are mining with - if its your CPU it will be tiny, and if its your graphics card it will be a lot more as Ethash was designed to be mined on GPU's. You can check out graphics cards here and see how much they mine, their efficiency and profit ratios!
Good luck and if there are any problems type a comment in at the bottom of this article and the community will help you get started! And that said if anyone has any ideas to make this guide simpler please let us know and we'll update it as soon as possible! And if this is too difficult you can always follow our other guide on how to cloud mine ethereum - the no hassle easy method to mine ethereum!