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What are Bitcoin Nodes and How to Use Them?

What are Bitcoin Nodes and How to Use Them?

When we see “Bitcoin” on the news, what does it actually mean? Most people are referring to Bitcoin as the cryptocurrency. They monitor BTC prices and make predictions. However, it is important to understand that Bitcoin is much more than just a cryptocurrency. Bitcoin is a blockchain network, a protocol, and a software. 

In this article, we are going to dive more into Bitcoin as the network and talk about one of the most crucial components of its network infrastructure — Bitcoin nodes. Why do you need to know about Bitcoin nodes?

What are Bitcoin nodes?

Crypto nodes are elements of underlying blockchain technology that store, synchronize and transmit information on the network. Without nodes, Bitcoin would unlikely to exist as we know it today. 

Nodes consist of two parts: the hardware (an actual physical device) and the software (set of rules that each node has to follow). Your personal computer and smartphone can also be called nodes as they run applications and connect your device to the Internet by following the instructions the apps provide. 

Unlike your smartphone, which transmits different types of data, Bitcoin nodes are designed to work exclusively with the data related to BTC transactions. 

These nodes, represented by computing devices, are connected to the Bitcoin network. They process blocks containing BTC related data — displaying both historical as well as the current state of the blockchain. Each block must be verified to be added to the chain. 

Nodes have to come to a collective agreement that all the transactions present in the block are correct. The process is performed according to a specific consensus algorithm, which, in the case of Bitcoin, is Proof of Work. 

bitcoin nodes - What are Bitcoin Nodes and How to Use Them?

Additionally, Bitcoin nodes contain a copy of the blockchain, therefore they constantly synchronize information between each other and guarantee transparency and security to the network. Thanks to this, when a new block is added, it is validated by each individual node.

Bitcoin node types 

Let’s talk about what types of Bitcoin nodes there are, how they differ and that role they play in the block verification process.

Full nodes 

Full nodes process new transactions. They store the entire blockchain history and therefore they recognize all instructions encoded by the Bitcoin network. However, to be added to the pool of transactions, each one of them has to be verified by several full nodes. 

After being placed in the pool, a transaction is then picked by miners. They compete against each other to create a new block and broadcast it to other nodes. Unlike full nodes, miners are capable of proposing new blocks. 

The block must be verified by full nodes yet again in order to be added to the chain. A consensus is reached when the block is validated by a sufficient number of full nodes and its copy is added to the database.

Light nodes

Light nodes are a more compressed version of the Bitcoin network, as their main role is to process block headers. They are not required to store the full history of the Bitcoin network. 

This also means that light nodes cannot work alone, therefore they are utilized in tandem with full nodes. Light nodes can be easily accessed via a mobile device, for instance by using a mobile wallet. 

Other types 

There are other types of blockchain nodes on the Bitcoin network, each of them programmed to follow specifically allocated rules with the aim of making Bitcoin a faster and more secure network. They  include:

  • archive nodes: they store the full history of the blockchain;
  • lightning nodes: nodes of the lightning network, which are designed to boost transaction speed and decrease costs;
  • pruned nodes: store the full blockchain history but only up to a certain amount. They stand in between full and light nodes; 
  • mining pool nodes: these nodes use mining activity to mine new blocks.

Final thoughts

Bitcoin nodes are a crucial factor in guaranteeing the ability of the Bitcoin network to work in an optimized manner. 

GetBlock blockchain node provider can offer easy and fast access to Bitcoin nodes via its shared and dedicated node options. Many Web3 developers and crypto enthusiasts are already utilizing Bitcoin nodes hosted by GetBlock to build efficient decentralized applications.