The Bitcoin network runs on nodes which are computers and servers running the Bitcoin software. The software code ensures that each node can connect to other nodes that are also running the Bitcoin software to form a network that transfers information like transactions, blocks, and other data. Through this network of nodes, Bitcoin can securely send digital cash. These nodes are essential for keeping the Bitcoin network running and they fulfill a very important role as they are constantly monitoring the Bitcoin blockchain. Nodes can distinguish between legitimate Bitcoin transactions from fake ones preventing attempts to double-spend bitcoins that have already been spent.
There are three jobs required by the node.
- The node must follow rules. Each node has been programmed to follow the rules set in the Bitcoin software program. By following these rules, the node checks the transactions it receives and only relays them to the other nodes if all the parameters are met.
- Nodes are required to share information with other nodes. While nodes can enter or leave the network and any time, they must share the information they have stored with other nodes on the network. The reason for this is to prevent the entire network from going down if a large portion of it suddenly went off-line.
- Each node must keep a copy of confirmed transactions and fresh unconfirmed transactions for safekeeping and will share the copy with other nodes if their copy isn’t up to date.
Types Of Nodes
While specific rules must be met to become a node, some are in charge of doing certain tasks within the network. Here are the types of nodes that run on the Bitcoin network.
A full node or “archival full node” keeps a complete copy of the blockchain and fully validates transactions and blocks. Most full nodes also support the Bitcoin network by accepting transactions and blocks from other full nodes. The node will also validate these transactions and blocks then relay them to the other full nodes in the network.
This type of node is designed to take up less hard drive space by only keeping track of a certain amount of the blockchain at a time. The node will download blocks from the beginning of the blockchain until it reaches a certain limit then it will proceed to delete the oldest blocks. It is referred to as a pruned down version of the full node.
This type of node is also called a “lightweight node”. It is also designed to save hard drive space as the software only downloads the blockheaders from the Bitcoin blockchain and does not store the entire blockchain. The only task this node has is to verify transactions in the blockchain using simplified payment verification (SPV).
Also known as “miners”, these nodes solve the complex cryptographic puzzles in a process called “mining”. Each miner tries to be the first node to create a new block in the blockchain. They must also prove that they are the one that has performed the required work, this is referred to as “proof of work”. Once the miner has had the network verify the transaction, a new block is added to the existing blockchain and the miner receives a reward of bitcoin for their actions.
This type of node involves holding and locking funds in a cryptocurrency wallet to support the operations and security of the Bitcoin blockchain network. This is known as “staking” and in return, holders are rewarded with cryptocurrency for their active contribution. This is similar to collecting interest from a traditional savings account.
This model is popular in private chain set-ups. Authority nodes are approved accounts that validate transactions and put them in blocks. The process fully-automated and does not require the validator to constantly monitor their computers and keeps computing to a minimum.
Masternodes are best described as a bonded validator system and is a governing hub in the network. This type of node supports the network by hosting an entire copy of the blockchain and validating transactions in real-time. Masternodes secure and stabilize the entire ecosystem and can offer services such as instant transactions, funding, treasury management, and private transactions. In return, the masternode receives a crypto reward.
Anyone Can Run A Node
The Bitcoin blockchain is a decentralized peer-to-peer network where anyone can take part and is encouraged to. The more active nodes running, the more secure the system is. Everything from mining rigs, desktop and laptop computers, and even small personal devices like the Raspberry Pi can support nodes. Running a node is easy, fun, and financially rewarding.