What Is the Bitcoin Node?

The Bitcoin node (full node) is software that validates transactions and blocks. Almost all nodes help the network by accepting transactions and blocks from other nodes and forwarding them to further nodes. The nodes are continuously synchronizing themselves and updating the status of the entire bitcoin blockchain. This method of decentralized communication is called gossip protocol.

Nodes frequently serve “lightweight” clients (e.g. mobile BTC wallets) by permitting the forwarding of their transactions to the network and informing them of the status of their transactions. If enough nodes did not perform this function, the wallets could not connect to the network through a decentralized protocol, and would have to depend on a number of centralized services (for example, a few major miners).

Bitcoin nodes – 3D vizualization of networkIn contrast to miners, nodes are not economically motivated to function. However, many people and organizations operate them voluntarily. In exchange, they get information on the Bitcoin network status from their own “first-hand” node and do not have to depend on information from third parties. It is desirable to have as many volunteers as possible.

Miners, companies (such as exchanges) and users who are sensitive to their privacy rely only on information from their own nodes, which they operate, and often try to disguise the ownership of these nodes.

Operating a Bitcoin node, however, comes with costs as well as risks. Before we begin considering a node, it is good to grasp the basics of good wallet security and backups of private keys.

Risks associated with BTC nodes

  • Legal: The use and support of Bitcoins in some countries is prohibited by law.
  • Demands on Internet connection: Synchronizing a node with a BTC blockchain requires higher demands on network connectivity and uploading/downloading of data. This results in higher costs, and some Internet providers threaten to block the service.
  • Viruses: Several hackers have entered parts of malicious code into a BTC blockchain. Although they cannot directly threaten your computer, because there are only text messages in the blockchain, some anti-virus programs quarantine the Bitcoin node anyway and obstruct its operation (especially on Windows).
  • Target of attack: Bitcoin nodes drive the entire decentralized Bitcoin network, so those who want to attack the network can focus directly on node operators, whether through hacking or restrictions, etc.

  • Geographical Distribution of BTC Nodes Around the World (source)

Bitcoinoví nadšenci, ktorí používajú vlastný uzol sú preto hrdinami a dúfame že ich bude pribúdať, aby sa celá sieť stala odolnejšou a väčšou.

Thus, Bitcoin enthusiasts who use their own node are heroes and we hope that their numbers will grow so that the whole network is more robust and more resistant.

TIP: Learn about the solution that should help scale and anonymize Bitcoin – Lightning network.

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