Mining Difficulty

1. concept

Mining difficulty refers to the measure of how hard it is to find a new block for a blockchain. It represents the expected hash power required to mine a block. As more computational power (hash power) is used to mine blocks, the difficulty is adjusted proportionally to maintain the average block time.


In Bitcoin's case, the difficulty is adjusted approximately every two weeks (or every 2016 blocks) to maintain the average block time at about 10 minutes.

2. adjustment

Different cryptocurrencies adjust their mining difficulty in different ways, using what's known as the Difficulty Adjustment Algorithm (DAA). Some cryptocurrencies adjust the difficulty over multiple weeks, some adjust it every few days, and some adjust it after every block confirmation.


Bitcoin Cash, for instance, adjusts its difficulty after every block, allowing it to respond quickly to changes in hash rate.

3. importance

Frequent difficulty adjustments are valuable to prevent sudden changes in hash rate from causing extreme block times. If the hash rate increases suddenly, without a corresponding difficulty adjustment, it could lead to very fast block times, known as "turbo blocks". Conversely, if the hash rate drops suddenly, it could lead to long periods with no new blocks, a situation known as a "death spiral".


In November 2017, Bitcoin Cash experienced a period of rapid block production due to its DAA, leading to a temporary inflation of the coin supply.

4. future

As blockchain technology evolves, new methods for adjusting difficulty may be developed. These could provide more stability and security for blockchain networks, and prevent manipulation of block times.


Ethereum's upcoming switch to Proof of Stake with Ethereum 2.0 will eliminate the concept of mining difficulty altogether, as blocks will be created by validators rather than miners.

* All terms and definitions may update as the Cryptionary improves.