Bitcoin Difficulty: A Complete Overview

The foundation of Bitcoin lies in its extensive mining network. Ultimately, they verify transactions and therefore maintain network security.

However, what you may not know is that this process is extremely energy intensive as miners compete with each other for block rewards. The energy required to verify them is known as Bitcoin difficulty and is an essential part of the network.

That is why, in this article, I will be covering Bitcoin mining difficulty and why it is so important. So without further ado, let’s jump right in.

What is Bitcoin mining difficulty? 

Bitcoin mining difficulty is the measurement of how much computational power it takes for miners to find the target hash for transactions. In other words, it measures the difficulty of processing Bitcoin blocks.

Simply put, miners are specialized computers that verify transactions to ensure they are valid. This prevents fraud and manipulation. Miners compete to verify these new transactions to receive the block reward.

The greater the computing power of miners the more likely they are of processing the transaction. Therefore, this process determines the difficulty. The more computing power it takes to mine the higher the difficulty and vice versa.

Why Does Bitcoin mining difficulty adjust?

Ultimately, the Bitcoin difficulty adjusts so that the average interval between blocks remains constant as the network hash power fluctuates. This creates a steady production of new Bitcoin. Without it, the inflation rate of Bitcoin would fluctuate dramatically.

Not to mention, the higher the difficulty the more secure the network. This is because it takes more computational power for bad actors to manipulate transactions in what is known as a 51% attack.

In other words, the cost of hijacking the consensus mechanism by holding the majority of the computational power increases.

How often does Bitcoin difficulty adjust?

Overall, Bitcoin difficulty adjusts every two weeks. This equates to every 2016 block. The difficulty time is adjusted based on a 10-minute interval.

If blocks process below 10 minutes then the mining difficulty is increased, whereas if they process above 10 minutes it is decreased.

Why does mining Bitcoin get harder?

Generally speaking, mining Bitcoin gets harder as more miners enter the network and the mining technology improves. In Bitcoin’s early days’ mining was primarily done using consumer-grade hardware such as PC CPUs.

Not to mention, fewer miners were competing for blocks therefore the overall difficulty was lower. As time progressed, more and more miners entered the network with more specialized equipment.

New computers known as ASICs were released with vastly greater computing power. In turn, the difficulty has been bid up over the past decade.

What happens to mining difficulty once the last Bitcoin is mined?

Once the last Bitcoin is mined there will be a shift in block rewards from new Bitcoin being produced to rewards coming solely from transaction fees.

Although difficulty may decrease as miner revenue also decreases due to fewer overall block rewards (denominated in Bitcoin). This will likely be offset by the improvement in mining technology allowing more efficient transaction processing at lower costs.

If you want to view this article in a more visual format then please check out my video below:


As you can see, Bitcoin difficulty is an essential part of the network. It maintains a constant rate of block production while also ensuring network security.

Since its inception Bitcoin’s difficulty has continued to increase and this will likely continue with the development of technology. I hope you found this article useful and thanks for reading it.

Want to know why Bitcoin’s price fluctuates so much? Click here to read my previous article.