The general definition of a Bitcoin node is any computer connected to the Bitcoin network. But in reality, everything is not so simple, and it is not enough just to connect to the network from time to time to participate in it.
According to Coinmarketrate.com, the node has several functions depending on its type, for example, saving the history of transactions made on the network since its creation. But nodes can also validate and validate transaction components.
For example, the Bitcoin node network rejected a block that was confirmed by miners because Bitcoin’s reward per block was higher than the current 6.25 BTC standard. So it’s quite a big responsibility to make sure that the miners comply with the rules. The rules are pretty simple:
A transaction cannot be executed twice. Blocks and transactions must follow standard formats. Block rewards must exactly match the current consensus.
Different types of nodes
- Full node
A full node is a node that supports the entire blockchain, allowing, for example, new nodes to load it in turn. But this is not their only function, because, as described above, the role of nodes is to verify that incoming blocks correspond to the consensus of the network. If this is not the case, then prevent them from being added to the blockchain by rejecting them. It should be noted that only one node needs to detect the anomaly in order to reject it, even if all other nodes in the network consider the block valid.
- Light node
Light nodes also allow you to verify network transactions without having to download and update the entire blockchain. They use a function called SPV (Simplified Payment Verification) for special verification of certain transactions. They rely on full nodes that allow them to access the data needed for verification, and therefore depend on them and their reliability. This system still allows for more accessible participation in the network without having to go through a centralized service.
Why create your own Bitcoin Node?
It’s true, it sounds quite complicated, requires the potential availability of a machine working at home or financing a server, so why do it?
There are many arguments in favor of owning and managing your own Bitcoin node, whether it is a full or light node. First of all, independence, which the light node does not have. Owning your own node means, first of all, that you have access to the Bitcoin network and can confirm your transactions.
Moreover, Bitcoin is, first of all, the idea of financial sovereignty, the embodiment of a way of storing and transferring an asset that cannot be compromised, stopped or controlled. Peer-to-peer network without a trusted third party or central authority, freely used currency. And this network relies on miners who, for a fee, ensure the security of transactions and protect Bitcoin from attacks. But it also relies on all full nodes: we have seen the role of these nodes in the network, which can be seen as countering miners and their potential centralization.
- Using as a wallet
Perhaps not everyone knows this, but we can also use the Bitcoin node as a wallet. For those who use software or store their Bitcoins on exchange platforms, it is usually recommended to turn to solutions that allow you to control private keys. As a rule, these are hardware wallets (Trezor, Ellipal, Ledger…), some programs (with caution) or just sheets of paper. Therefore, there is a solution to manage them on your full node, but beware of configuration errors, as the loss of your coins is possible.
- Control over your data
In addition, your means of access to the Bitcoin network contains a lot of personal information about your transactions. It is enough to analyze this data to create a profile if you do not regularly change your public address. Using your own node is a guarantee that your data will be managed in a way that is convenient for you.
In conclusion, it should be noted that the Bitcoin network does not yet have a sufficiently large number of full-fledged nodes to guarantee high-quality decentralization. Most of the transactions and, consequently, information passes through a small number of nodes.
Bitcoin Nodes Network
Today, at the time of writing, according to the Bitnodes website, there are 16,202 public Bitcoin nodes.
The number of Bitcoin nodes in real time. Source: BitNodes
They are spread all over the world, with a dominant presence in the USA and Europe. This figure is not very impressive, but it applies only to public nodes, which excludes from the calculation all nodes protected by firewalls or, for example, refusing to open their ports. Therefore, it is actually impossible to determine the number of Bitcoin nodes that exist on the planet.
Various Ways to Create a Bitcoin Node
Today, there are various ways to create your own Bitcoin node. The process has been simplified, and even “plug and play” solutions have appeared. Here are a few of these solutions that seemed relevant to us.
In order to set up your Bitcoin node using Bitcoin Core, you will need to confirm at least these functions necessary for its operation:
- Your hardware has and runs on one of the latest versions of one of these operating systems: macOS, Windows or Linux.
- At least 200 GB of available memory (500 GB or even 1 TB is recommended to make it comfortable) with a write speed above 100 MB/s.
- Internet connection exceeding 50 Kb/s.
- 2 GB of RAM.
Ensure that your node is available on the network for at least 6 hours a day, but continuity is preferable if possible. Considering this, you can use, for example, Raspberry Pi 3 or 4 with a 500 GB solid-state drive, which is quite suitable for your purposes.
One of the disadvantages of using Pi, and even more so its version 3, is the slow synchronization with the Bitcoin blockchain. You will need patience, as it may take several days, and possibly weeks! But using a Raspberry Pi is a way to easily run the machine 24 hours a day without overspending energy.
And this is not the only solution, as the community also uses the Rock64 or Odroid board, which is considered more reliable than the Raspberry 3. But version 4 has recently been released, which improves its capabilities, in particular, at the level of download speed, which allows you to divide the duration of synchronization by 2-3.
Do you want to have your own full-fledged node connected to the Bitcoin network, but the installation and configuration work is scary? The Nodl team has a plug-and-play solution for you, which will allow you to easily participate in the network without unnecessary hassle.
Of course, you have to pay for this: you will have to pay $500 plus shipping, which is much more expensive than, for example, Raspberry and its SSD. However, Nodl offers a very simplified configuration, since the synchronization and use of the node is carried out through a web interface. Synchronization is not performed before delivery, and you will have to download the Bitcoin blockchain yourself, which can take a long time, several days.
Once this is done, you will have a full-fledged Bitcoin node in your hands, and you will be able to use it at your discretion, for example, to manage wallets on hard drives.
This is probably all to have an idea of what a Bitcoin node is, about the different types of nodes and how to create your own node is finished.
The creation of a network of independent nodes is necessary for Bitcoin, and its development should be a priority for those who are interested in it. Do you want to participate in the development of Bitcoin? Create your own complete node.