What are Nodes in Crypto? | Blockchain Nodes and More

By Onose Enaholo
Updated 24 May 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Bitcoin operates through a decentralized system that doesn’t rely on banks. Instead, it uses a network of computers called nodes and miners to manage transactions.
  • The most recent version of the Bitcoin network is kept up to date by crypto nodes. They ensure that everyone abides by the guidelines established by the network by routinely verifying and approving new transactions.
  • On the other hand, crypto miners create and suggest new blocks to be added to the existing blockchain.
  • Blockchain nodes keep a complete copy of the shared ledger. They are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the stored information. Developers use nodes to create blockchain-based applications.
  • Certain hardware, software, and network requirements must be met to set up a full blockchain node.
  • Running and maintaining blockchain nodes can be challenging, time-consuming, and require significant financial investment. There are many technical considerations involved.

What are Nodes?

In the world of cryptocurrency, a node is essentially a computer or group of computers that support a crypto network by verifying transactions and maintaining the blockchain, which is a digital ledger. A node may be regarded as an information transfer point. Across many different cryptographic ledgers, information is distributed among networks of nodes.

Nodes play a crucial role in Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), which stores cryptographic ledgers across many different, unconnected computers, ensuring the ledger can’t be corrupted simultaneously. Any user or application that wants to communicate with the blockchain can do so through nodes. 

What are Nodes Used for?

Nodes play a crucial role in the functioning of blockchains. They’re responsible for validating, recording, and broadcasting transactions on the network while ensuring that the blockchain runs smoothly and rejects malicious transactions.

Additionally, nodes carry out each blockchain’s consensus mechanism, a procedure that verifies and establishes transactions. Proof-of-Work (PoW) and Proof-of-Stake (PoS) are the two most commonly employed techniques. To carry out crypto mining, miners rely on nodes, sometimes called “mining nodes.” In order to solve difficult mathematical problems and produce new blocks, this technique makes use of cutting-edge gear and software. 

As a digital substitute for traditional wallets for holding Bitcoin, certain nodes can also perform the functions of crypto wallets. Because of these characteristics, nodes are a crucial part of DeFi (decentralized finance). This new idea directly provides financial services and goods to customers without the need for middlemen. DeFi uses blockchain technology to offer various financial products in the cryptocurrency market.

Who can Run a Node?

An administration in conventional finance centralizes transaction networks like Visa or PayPal. But in most cryptocurrencies, nodes in a blockchain network do not need validation from the top of the system because they use consensus mechanisms to check and verify one another. This implies that anyone may create a node by installing the blockchain application on their computer from any location. An Initial Block Download (IBD) procedure that permits node synchronization to the network on the first run is necessary to set up a new node.

Even if the download could demand a lot of storage, a few straightforward methods can be taken to reduce the amount of space needed. As an alternative, nodes can run in the cloud, which outsources storage and processing resources, by connecting with a cloud service provider and setting up the required software. After downloading the whole history of the Bitcoin blockchain, new blocks are added around every 10 minutes. On the official Bitcoin website, you can find comprehensive instructions on installing and running a Bitcoin node on various operating systems.

What is a Blockchain Node?

Blockchain nodes play a vital role in building and maintaining a decentralized network. They are responsible for ensuring that the transactions on the blockchain are valid and that there is no cheating or double-spending. A node is simply a device running the software of a specific blockchain. It can be anything with an IP address, such as routers, modems, switches, servers, or printers.

Achieving consensus on a decentralized network is essential for maintaining its integrity. The nodes play a key role in this process. They ensure that everyone on the network agrees that transactions are valid. They help make the blockchain secure by achieving consensus among users. In short, the nodes are the moderators of the blockchain network and are crucial for maintaining its security and integrity.

What is a Bitcoin Node?

Nodes play a crucial role in ensuring the security and integrity of the Bitcoin network. They help prevent fraudulent double-spending by constantly monitoring the blockchain’s transaction history. Any computer running the Bitcoin software and joining the Bitcoin network is considered a node.

Bitcoin Core is the most popular software implementation of a full node. Each node, like a ledger, holds the complete history of the Bitcoin blockchain and participates in the network’s security through the consensus mechanism. However, determining the exact number of active Bitcoin nodes is difficult because some users may connect privately to avoid detection or counting.

Bitcoin Nodes vs. Ethereum Nodes vs. Cardano Nodes

A Bitcoin node is critical to the blockchain network. As per the latest statistics, there are over 11,500 Bitcoin nodes, increasing monthly. It is worth noting that counting the precise number of Bitcoin nodes is not easy, as some nodes are inactive, and others run privately. Running a Bitcoin node can be a useful way to enhance security and privacy. Ethereum nodes function similarly to Bitcoin nodes, but there are more Ethereum nodes than Bitcoin ones.

Running an Ethereum node requires technical know-how and comes in fast, full, or light modes. To run an Ethereum client on an HDD, you need at least 8MB of bandwidth, 4GB of RAM, and a 2-core CPU. On the other hand, running a full Bitcoin node may require less power. Cardano nodes are gaining popularity, and they serve as the backbone of the Cardano network. The Cardano topology differs from Ethereum and Bitcoin because it doesn’t store transaction copies on each node. Instead, a leader among a group of nodes verifies and validates the transaction.

The 7 Types of Blockchain Nodes

Sometimes, the terms “node” and “full node” are used interchangeably in Bitcoin discussions, but they have different meanings. A “full node” is a computer that holds a complete copy of the Bitcoin network’s blockchain history and synchronizes it with the rest of the network. In addition to full nodes, lightweight nodes do not hold the entire blockchain. Let’s take a closer look at both types of nodes.

Archival Nodes

When people use the term “full node,” they usually talk about an archival full node, the most important type of node in a blockchain network. Archival full nodes are servers that store the entire blockchain, including every transaction recorded in their databases. These nodes are responsible for verifying blocks and ensuring agreement among network users. Archival nodes can be categorized into two subtypes: those that can add blocks to the chain and those that cannot.

Light Nodes

If you don’t have enough storage space or processing power to run a full node, you can use a lightweight node, also known as a “light node.” These nodes only download block headers, which contain a summary of each block in the blockchain rather than the entire blockchain. This means they take up less storage space and are faster to sync with the network. However, lightweight nodes don’t validate transactions themselves and instead rely on full nodes to do so. They’re typically used for Simplified Payment Verification (SPV), which allows users to confirm that a transaction has been included in a block without downloading the entire blockchain.

Mining Nodes

In the crypto-mining world, there are two types of nodes: full and light. Miners of either type compete to be the first to solve a complex math problem, which proves that they have done the necessary work to create a new block in the blockchain. This process is known as “proof-of-work”. Full nodes can perform this task independently, as they have a complete copy of the blockchain. On the other hand, light nodes rely on full nodes for information about the current state of the blockchain. It’s worth noting that running a mining node can be costly in terms of electricity expenses.

Pruned Full Nodes

A pruned full node is a type of node that saves hard disk space by deleting old blocks in the blockchain. To start, it needs to download the entire blockchain. Then, it removes blocks, starting with the oldest ones, until it only has the most recent transactions up to a certain size limit. For example, if the limit is 250 MB, the node will keep only the most recent 250 MB of transactions. This makes it easier and faster for the node to operate and takes up less storage space.

Lightning Nodes

Lightning nodes differ from the other nodes described here. Instead of acting as a relay for Bitcoin transactions on the blockchain, lightning nodes enable off-chain transactions between users. These off-chain transactions take place without requiring verification from the Bitcoin network, which means they happen faster and with lower fees. A typical lightning transaction on the Bitcoin network costs only a few satoshis, a tiny fraction of a penny. This technology reduces the burden on the Bitcoin network and enables faster and cheaper transactions.


Masternodes differ from full nodes because they can’t add new blocks to the blockchain. Instead, their job is to validate and record transactions on the network. By running a master node, users can earn a portion of the network’s rewards, but first, they must lock up a certain amount of the network’s native token. One example of a network that uses master nodes is DASH.

Authority Nodes

Consensus algorithms that are not completely decentralized, such as Delegated Proof of Stake and Proof of Authority, employ authority nodes. The development team or the community determines the number of authority nodes required and who will manage them through voting. The function of these nodes is similar to that of full nodes in other networks. Their responsibility is to validate and verify transactions and keep the network in sync.

Blockchain Nodes are Essential

A blockchain is a decentralized system powered by a network of nodes, which are essential stakeholders and the devices they use to connect to the network. These nodes work together to carry out the blockchain functions, such as verifying transactions and making decisions about the network’s governance. Nodes are critical to the blockchain’s infrastructure, serving as the source of truth for the network and ensuring that users follow the rules.

Tokens and smart contracts exist within nodes. Any website, wallet, or decentralized application interacting with the blockchain must communicate with an active node. The more nodes a blockchain has, the more decentralized it is, which increases its resistance to attacks and ensures that majority-rule systems are populated.

How Nodes Help Secure the Blockchain

Nodes play a crucial role in ensuring the security and integrity of the blockchain by keeping the ledger up-to-date with the latest transactions. With many nodes spread across the network, it’s improbable for a hacker to make any unauthorized changes, as it would require simultaneously changing the data on all nodes. Moreover, data remains secure even during power outages, hacks, or system failures because it’s not limited to a single node.

Even during a global crisis, the blockchain network can continue to operate because of the availability of multiple nodes. A single node can restore the entire network in a catastrophic failure. Essentially, nodes are the backbone of blockchain technology, and the network cannot function without them.

Node vs. Miner

Sometimes, people use the terms “nodes” and “miners” interchangeably, but they are different. Miners are specialized computers that use powerful hardware to add new blocks to the blockchain and solve the puzzle to earn new coins. However, not all nodes are miners. Nodes help maintain the blockchain network by storing a copy of the entire blockchain and relaying information to other nodes. While miners are always nodes, not all nodes have the hardware or computational power to perform mining functions.


  • Stores a copy of the blockchain and joins the peer-to-peer network to share data with other nodes.
  • Only needs software to connect to the network; no special hardware or equipment is required.
  • Running a node has no direct financial reward; it is done to support the network and decentralization.
  • Can be a full node, which stores all blockchain data, or a light node, which only stores a subset of the data.
  • Verifies transactions and blocks to ensure network consensus.
  • Can be run by anyone, making the network more decentralized.
  • Uses significantly less energy than mining, making it a more eco-friendly way to support the network.


  • Mines new blocks and confirms transactions on the blockchain.
  • Demands specialized and powerful hardware to solve complex computational puzzles.
  • Receives newly minted cryptocurrency and transaction fees as a reward for successful mining.
  • Must operate a full node to mine and validate transactions.
  • Decides the order of transactions and secures new blocks by solving cryptographic algorithms.
  • Large mining pools dominate mining, raising concerns over centralized control.
  • Requires a significant amount of energy to sustain the high computational demands of mining.





To keep a copy of the blockchain stored and participate in the network peer-to-peer.

Miners validate transactions and build fresh new blocks.


Nodes only require software to get access to the network. 

Specialized gear and powerful computers are needed to tackle complicated mathematical puzzles.


There is no specific financial reward for maintaining a node.

Receives benefits in the form of transaction fees and freshly created coins.

Network Status

 They may be full or light nodes based on how much data they retain.

The ability to mine requires being a complete node.

Role in Consensus

Verifies transactions and blocks as part of the consensus process.

By resolving a cryptographic problem, it establishes the sequence of transactions and generates new blocks.


Because anyone can operate nodes, the network becomes more decentralized.

Concerns regarding centralization arise from the fact that mining is sometimes concentrated in the hands of a few big mining pools.

Power Consumption

Uses much less energy than mining because it doesn’t call for the solution of challenging mathematical puzzles.

The heavy computing needed for mining requires significant energy usage.

Reasons to Run a Blockchain Node

Now that you understand what a node is in the world of cryptocurrency and how you can operate one on your personal computer, you may be wondering why you would want to do so. The truth is, running your blockchain node offers numerous advantages. Here are three advantages to running your node:

Little to No Investment Required

Running a node doesn’t require a lot of fancy hardware or a significant upfront investment. If you want to mine Bitcoin, you’ll need a powerful rig. But to support the cryptocurrency ecosystem, you can easily run a node on any average computer. All you need is a computer with a minimum of 2GB of RAM, a 350GB hard drive, and an internet connection with no limits on data usage.

Access to Governance

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are designed to be decentralized, meaning no central authority controls them. This is why changes to the Bitcoin network require agreement from the majority; otherwise, they won’t happen. That’s where having a node comes in. Running a node allows you to connect to the Bitcoin network and participate in governance by voting on proposals for changes to the system. By doing so, you become a part of the larger crypto community and have a say in its direction.

Make the Network Safer

One of the most compelling reasons to set up your own Bitcoin node is to enhance the entire network’s security. Since Bitcoin is decentralized, the community must actively participate to keep it secure and functioning properly. Nodes are crucial to Bitcoin’s security, and having your own can make the network safer and more secure.

This can encourage more people to join the community, which may ultimately lead to wider adoption of Bitcoin by the general public. Furthermore, running a node can guarantee that all miners and other nodes on the network comply with the regulations in place to ensure the system’s sustainability.

What Do Network Nodes Do?

Nodes serve as the backbone of any network, acting as the gateway for data and the source of its distribution. They perform three main functions: data storage, routing, and forwarding. Data storage refers to the capacity of a computing node to save the data it receives. Routing involves sending data to other nodes within the same network. At the same time, forwarding allows a node to connect to external networks.

Nodes can be structured in a central or distributed configuration, each with different roles and responsibilities within the network. A single node acts as the primary control point in a central configuration. In contrast, every node is connected in a distributed configuration, creating a more resilient system. However, this type of network can be more complex to maintain. Nodes also contribute to two critical network factors: bandwidth and latency, which determine the overall network performance.

Final Thoughts About What Nodes Are in Crypto

The world of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency can seem daunting to newcomers due to its complexity. However, it is important to understand how the system works, as this is the key to why Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are successful. It is best to start with the basics and work from there to make it less intimidating. Understanding concepts like nodes is a good place to start. Once you have a grasp on these foundational concepts, you can begin to tackle more complex ideas. With this knowledge, you can fully participate in the crypto community and take advantage of the benefits of a decentralized monetary system.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Exactly are Nodes in Crypto?
Crypto nodes are devices that participate in a network's communication tasks and are authorized to maintain the distributed ledger. They play a vital role in confirming the legitimacy of transactions on the network, known as "blocks."
Can Crypto Nodes be Profitable?
Due to low fees, running a node might only generate a few monthly dollars in Bitcoin or less. Many participants run Lightning nodes to support Bitcoin's use as a medium of exchange rather than for financial gain.
Which Crypto Nodes are Recommended?
The top 5 recommended nodes for validator roles are Ethereum ($ETH), Solana ($SOL), Cardano ($ADA), Avalanche ($AVAX), and Tezos ($XTZ). Each network has its own set of specifications, rewards, and challenges to consider.
What is a Bitcoin Node?
A node is a computer that adheres to specific rules and exchanges information with other computers. A "full node" is a computer in Bitcoin's peer-to-peer network that holds and synchronizes a complete copy of the Bitcoin blockchain. Nodes are critical for maintaining the cryptocurrency network.
Can You Sell Your Nodes?
Nodes are not typically regarded as assets that can be sold, and no secondary market exists for them. As a result, the cost of a node is frequently non-recoverable.

What are Nodes?

By Onose Enaholo - min read
Updated 24 May 2024
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