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A few years ago, I paid (don't remember now if it was in Bitcoin or fiat) for a subscription to this "Cloudhash" scam. Basically, they claimed that I was "renting" a miner in their big facility, or more likely, they used my money (together with many other customers' money) to buy a bunch of miners that they put into a data center or some sort of facility, and then I could "watch the Bitcoins roll in".

As you can imagine, the amount in my control panel never reached above $2, far below what was allowed to be withdrawn. I never made a single dime. As far as I'm concerned, that was a scam. But does it necessarily have to be a scam? Or is there some way that somebody could legitimate run such a thing and actually pay out any kind of meaningful amounts of Bitcoin to the customers?

I read so many stories of people never getting their miners from China, or getting them so late that they had already become obsolete when they arrived. I realized that the power would go out in my apartment even if I did buy one, got it and hooked it up here. Not to mention the noise and heat generated would've driven me insane. It simply was not practical in my situation (which has not changed) to mine myself. That's why that service seemed so attractive to me, requiring me to do nothing but let them mine for me and I would get at least some coins.

I will say that I was skeptical, but I assumed that I would at least get back the money I had put in. Nope. Not even that.

Is there something which mathematically prevents this from ever working out?

Is there such a thing as a non-scam project that does this? Somebody who perhaps has rented a big basement with free power next to their uncle's nuclear power plant or something like that? Wouldn't it make sense for them to use my amount to buy another miner (or part of one) and then I would regularly get "my share worth" of satoshis?

Or am I pipe-dreaming here? Am I a naive fool who fell for the oldest trick in the book? And you all find it funny that I could ever believe that such a thing could exist?

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If you found yourself in a situation where you owned a machine which, when running, would create a profit for you, what would you do?

  • run that machine
  • set up a business to rent the profits of running that machine to others

The only way the second choice really makes sense, is if you rent it out for more money than you'd expect the machine to make for you on it's own.

Wouldn't it make sense for them to use my amount to buy another miner (or part of one) and then I would regularly get "my share worth" of satoshis?

Mining is very competitive. As a miner you have to minimize your costs to remain profitable, and so I find it hard to believe that any miner which is depending on renting out their hashrate to others will be competitive. There would be a lot of extra work involved in running such an additional operation. Maybe it is possible, but personally I wouldn't bet on it.

If you search around online, you'll find lots of stories of users that have lost money on cloud mining purchases, but are there many that talk about big profits? Not that I've seen at least. That isn't a perfect measure, but it is perhaps telling.

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There are a few legitimate such services, like NiceHash, that let you purchase hashpower from other users. You have to put in your own mining pool credentials on it, and it will mine using your credentials, so it's not exactly that "you just watch Bitcoins accumulate on the cloud hash operator's website".

I can't imagine it being extremely profitable for the buyers. The sellers have an interest to sell for at least what they would earn from just mining on their own, otherwise they'd just mine on their own. You'll probably be running at a slight loss if you tried to use it to just mine regular Bitcoin on a regular pool. I've heard of people buying it to try and take advantage of mining on small altcoins that are slightly more profitable than Bitcoin that the hardware owner might not want to put the effort into researching. Also, sometimes mining pools might buy it to test new features on their pool.

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