What are Nodes?

Nodes are increasingly becoming a contested subject within blockchain debates. Technically speaking, nodes are a critical component of any blockchain infrastructure. If there were no nodes, data on the blockchain would not be accessible.  

But how is this working? 

A blockchain’s infrastructure is built on blocks of data. These blocks of data are stored on nodes, and a full node is a device that registers the log of transactions of the blockchain. Nodes are vital to maintaining the integrity of a blockchain. More simply, a node is just a copy of the blockchain that exists on any device. 

Nodes fall into two categories: full nodes and light ones. While the first type represents a complete list of every single transaction that occurred on a blockchain, the latter is only a partial log. A good example is Bitcoin nodes, where a full one would contain every single block that has ever been created on the network since 2009. A lightweight node may include blocks that were created in the past few months. Light nodes are connected to full nodes in spite of their data limitation.  

What are nodes for? 

Nodes keep the integrity of the blockchain for a specific digital currency. A complete blockchain log can be held even if only one node is running it. This can increase risks like hacks, power failures or systemic crashes. Blockchain-based cryptocurrencies usually contain more than hundreds of nodes – the more nodes a cryptocurrency is running on, the safer it is.

Much has been said about blockchain transparency and safety given the technological infrastructure it is based on. The fact that it is a distributed ledger and thousands of copies of a blockchain are scattered on the network to different users makes it impossible to delete a copy of it. But the nodes are the mechanism that makes it impossible for any government or organization to shut down a blockchain or alter any information completely. 

Every crypto enthusiast needs to understand the underlying mechanics of a node as it’s what fuels the blockchain and its one-of-a-kind technology. Nodes are the essence and the foundation of the technology allowing a blockchain to function and carry out different tasks.  

Do you want to find out more about the blockchain? Read our crypto dictionary series and have all blockchain related terms explained! 

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