Each node serves as a network communication point. There are various types of nodes, and each type is responsible for a specific set of functions.
Within a network, nodes can have a range of duties, but the majority of nodes are responsible for tracking and verifying network transactions. Some nodes also function as network communication hubs, relaying and forwarding network requests and data to other nodes, miners, and validators.
What is a Blockchain Node and How Does it Work?
A blockchain node's primary responsibilities include broadcasting and validating transactions. A node receives a transaction from a user and broadcasts it to the rest of the network. The transaction is examined by each node in the network to confirm that the sender has the funds available and is authorized to transfer them.
The fact that each node controls the transactions contributes to the security of the network. A transaction can only be authorized if 51% of nodes confirm it. A malicious actor is unlikely to take control of 51% of a blockchain network with hundreds or thousands of nodes. If you are considering investing in a cryptocurrency, it is always good to investigate how its nodes work so that you get a better idea of how secure it is.
After the nodes have validated the new transactions, they are grouped into blocks. Each new block is added to the blockchain according to the rules of its consensus mechanism, which are enforced by a set of nodes known as full nodes.
Types of Blockchain Nodes
Blockchain nodes are classified according to the functions they perform. The types of nodes are:
Archival full nodes - The entire blockchain database is stored and maintained by archival full nodes. They are the most common form of blockchain node and have no defined storage limit. Authority nodes, mining nodes, staking nodes, and masternodes are the several types of archival full nodes.
Pruned full nodes - By pruning the older blocks, pruned full nodes store data or blocks on the hard disk. Such nodes must first download the complete blockchain to their hard drive and then remove older data block by block. They continue to delete older blocks until the storage only contains the most recent transaction information, up to the limit.
Masternodes - Masternodes are full nodes that cannot add new blocks to the chain. These nodes only validate and record the transactions.
Light nodes - A light node only downloads and stores block headers. Because it stores only essential data, it requires full nodes to operate and is designed to perform fast and easy transactions.
Lightning nodes - A lightning node creates an off-chain network for users to connect to, allowing for off-chain transactions. Transactions are processed before being sent to the main blockchain. On congested blockchain networks with slow processing and high transaction costs, these nodes are useful. Lightning nodes allow almost instantaneous transactions at low cost.
Mining nodes - Mining nodes are essential parts of blockchains that use a Proof of Work consensus method, such as Bitcoin. To approve transactions on the blockchain, these nodes have to solve complicated mathematical problems. These problems require very sophisticated computing devices and a large amount of electricity. As an incentive, after a mining node has finished solving the problem and adding block transaction records to the blockchain, it is rewarded with some freshly minted tokens.
Authority nodes - An authority node is one who has been chosen by the organization or community responsible for a blockchain. It can be found in blockchains where nodes have to go through a vetting process. Blockchains that use a proof-of-authority mechanism, for example, only use approved nodes managed by node operators who have provided identifying information.
Staking nodes - Staking occurs when a staking node locks up cryptocurrency funds as collateral. Staking nodes are chosen by blockchains that use a Proof of Stake system to confirm transaction blocks. A staking node can consist of a single user or a staking pool, which is a group of users who pool their crypto assets to increase the chances of being chosen to confirm blocks.
Super Nodes - Super nodes are a less common form. They are meant to perform specific tasks. For example, a blockchain can deploy super nodes to maintain network regulations or to perform an upgrade.
Once you know what a blockchain node is, creating one is easier than you might think. There are simply a few steps to take:
- Obtain the necessary node hardware. While it is possible to run a node on your computer, this can impact performance, so many node operators run their nodes on dedicated devices.
- Download and install the blockchain node software on your computer.
- Run the software every day. You don't have to run it all day, but there may be a minimum requirement set by the blockchain.
The function of blockchain nodes is analogous to that of servers on the Internet. A solid understanding of blockchain nodes is essential whether you are a developer or a user. Nodes play a vital role in the security of the blockchain. Creating a node is one of the best solutions for those who want to support a crypto project.
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