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What are Blockchain Nodes and how do they functions?

21 Sep 2022 By : Rohit Khandelwal
Southeast Asia’s Lar

Key Takeaways

  • A blockchain node is simply a computer-based device that participates in a blockchain network. 

  • Blockchain Node maintains the blockchain and validates a transaction.

  • A node is not always a miner.

A node is a point of intersection or connection in a data transmission network. In a network where all devices are accessible, these devices are all considered nodes.  Any type of device, mainly PCs, laptops, or servers, can serve as a node. The specific definition of each node is determined by the sort of network to which it relates.

The term "node" in computer science simply refers to a device that participates in a bigger network. In the context of crypto and blockchain, a node is one of the computers that run the blockchain's software to validate and record the whole history of transactions on the network.

What is a Blockchain Node?

A blockchain node is a computer-based device that participates in a blockchain network. It runs the blockchain protocol's software, which allows it to validate transactions and safeguard the network. Blockchain nodes exchange information with one another. The network becomes increasingly decentralized as the number of nodes increases.

Nodes are an essential and fundamental component of the blockchain network, which is the decentralized ledger that is utilized to maintain any cryptocurrency. The main function of a blockchain node is to validate the legality of each following batch of network transactions known as blocks. Furthermore, assigning a unique identification to each node in the network makes it easier to differentiate one node from another.

How Do Nodes Work?

Blockchains are distributed ledgers that record the whole history of transactions on a certain network. It is a chain of blocks of transactions that have been agreed to be legitimate by everyone in the network.

If you’ve ever wondered where the blockchain exists, it’s among the nodes. It simply means that the blockchain consists of nodes, and each node has a duplicate copy of the transactions. When a new set of transactions (a block) is added to the blockchain, it is broadcast from node to node so that each of them may update their own databases in the same way.

You may have heard the terms "distributed" and "peer-to-peer" in reference to blockchain networks. This is because nodes are responsible for maintaining the database of past transactions in a distributed manner, validating each other's transactions on the network.

Each blockchain has its own set of procedures for reaching an agreement. In some blockchains, the transaction can be processed with the approval of just one validator node. However, some decisions require the consent of the full committee of nodes.

When a miner seeks to add a new block of transactions to the blockchain, the block is broadcast to all network nodes. Nodes can accept or reject a block based on the validity of signatures and transactions. The new block of transactions that a node accepts is saved and stored on top of the blocks.

Functions of Nodes

In a nutshell, nodes do the following:

  • Maintains Blockchain: Nodes save and store transaction blocks (blockchain transaction history).

  • Validating a Transaction: Nodes determine if a block of transactions is genuine and then accept or reject it. 

  • Accessing Information: This transaction history is broadcast and disseminated by nodes to other nodes that may need to be updated with the blockchain transaction history.

Nodes vs. Miners

Nodes and miners are frequently confused with one another. However, they are often not exactly the same thing. The main difference between the nodes and miners is that miners need a full copy of the transaction history.

A miner must always operate a full node for validating transactions in order to generate a new block. Because it lacks access to the whole blockchain history, it cannot decide what proposed transactions are legitimate based on the current blockchain's transaction history.

A node, on the other hand, is not always a miner. A device can function as a complete node by receiving, storing, and broadcasting all transaction data (much like a server) without initiating new blocks of transactions. In this situation, it acts more like a passing point with a directory, whereas a miner does the same but also attempts to produce fresh blocks of transactions.

How do nodes protect the blockchain?

Nodes can be online or offline. Online nodes receive, save, and broadcast all of the most recent blocks of transactions from and to other nodes, but offline nodes do not. When an offline node returns online, it must first catch up with the rest of the blockchain by downloading all blocks added to the blockchain while the node was offline. 

The Ethereum blockchain is being synchronized by an Ethereum node. A full blockchain may potentially function on a single node, but because it is kept on a single device, it is particularly vulnerable to power outages, hackers, and systemic breakdowns. The more complete nodes a blockchain runs on, the more resilient it is to such disasters. 

When blockchain data is scattered over so many devices, a corrupt organization will find it difficult to wipe out all of this data at once. Even if a huge number of nodes fall offline and are rendered inoperable as a result of a worldwide catastrophe, a single node can conceivably keep a full blockchain operating. Even if all nodes fall offline, it just takes one node with the whole blockchain history to re-enable access to all data.

Who can run a node?

Some blockchains have thousands of nodes operating at the same time. Anyone can run a node simply, with a little technical knowledge, and it does not require a lot of resources. First, to get started, they need to purchase the necessary hardware. Although you can operate a node on your computer, this can have an impact on performance. Hence, many node operators run their nodes on dedicated devices.

Then, after meeting all the hardware requirements, download and install the blockchain node software on your PC and run the program. Many cryptocurrency and blockchain enthusiasts volunteer to run nodes. They do this to help the blockchain community, its development, security, and integrity, but also because it is their pastime and makes them feel like they are a part of the project. 

Your hardware and internet connection are the most crucial aspects of establishing a blockchain node. Blockchain nodes also upload a significant quantity of data, so verify your internet plan's upload restrictions to avoid any problems.

Conclusion

Nodes are essential to the operation of a blockchain network because they ensure data integrity and transaction history. Blockchain networks provide monetary incentives like mining or staking to encourage users to run full nodes. Mainly due to the incentives, users help and maintain the project as much as they can.

However, keep in mind that running a full node incurs costs and risks. While there are various available instructions, creating them may be too difficult for those new to blockchain and programming.

One of the unique characteristics of cryptocurrencies is that they are decentralized. They handle transactions without the use of a central authority, which means they do not require the services of a bank or payment processor. A network of blockchain nodes, on the other hand, validates transactions and secures the network.

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