Tuesday 25 August 2015

Wondering if that tx will ever get confirmed? This site tells you how much to pay to get the job done fast.

Wonderful though the bitcoin protocol is, decentralised currencies have their drawbacks. In recent weeks I’ve experienced the anguish of making a simple transaction to Bitstamp, only to find it took 12 hours for a single confirmation. No one thought to tell me the network was under attack from a crazed spammer intent on causing mayhem by choking miners’ processing queues.

Read also: Clogged - the anatomy of a bitcoin attack 


A ten-minute confirmation took 12 hours while the network was under attack, and customer support was not helpful

At times of peak usage, real or malicious, the bitcoin network struggles. New transactions don’t make it into the next block and end up getting delayed. This is a real issue right now; although on average blocks are only something like a third full, random variation means that sometimes they’re overflowing - let alone when some kind soul decides to flood network with tiny transactions. Now come January 2016 this will hopefully be fixed with a hardfork to 8 MB blocks, since the Chinese didn’t like the idea of 20 MB blocks

Usually that’s not a massive issue, but if you want to send funds quickly and reliably you may need to increase your transaction fees. Not much, since the standard fee of 0.0001 BTC is used by almost everyone. But miners typically include more profitable transactions first (as well they should, because Capitalism). Grease their dirty palms and they’ll squeeze you in at the front of the queue. But how much should you hand over? No one likes paying too much for a bribe.

Chris, the kind chap who runs the website Cointape, has got the answer. Based on unconfirmed transactions and recent blockchain activity, the site calculates the minimum fee you need to have your transaction processed quickly.

If you can’t be bothered to do the maths based on the suggested fee per transaction byte, just double the standard tx fee to 0.0002. That’ll get you by unless something really weird is going on, and for the sake of $0.03 you don’t have to get your calculator out.

comments powered by Disqus