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What Are Blockchain Nodes?

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VOC, Voice of Crypto, Blockchain Technology

In the late 2000s, the first blockchain was created by Satoshi Nakamoto (identity still unknown) to serve as an alternative to how traditional financial systems handle transactions. This is only one among the many other use cases of blockchain technology.

blockchain is a peer-to-peer distributed ledger that contains thousands of blocks of data. This distributed ledger records transactions automatically between its numerous users, eliminating the need for a central body or arbitrators like banks and others.

The distributed nature of blockchains means they are completely decentralized and open for all to see. This means that any participant or user has access to the information stored on the entire blockchain. This is an important feature by way of transparency.

Each block of the chain contains data that directly references the contents of the block before it. This allows any user of the blockchain to trace and find the details of every last transaction that has ever been performed on the network, down to the first-ever transaction.

The Framework of Blockchains

What makes blockchains stand out from other kinds of technology is their decentralization. This property is made possible by the fact that blockchains do not exist in any single place.

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Instead, they are distributed across multiple clusters of computers, called nodes.

Nodes prevent any one user from ‘cheating’ or manipulating the data on the blockchain. If a Blockchain didn’t have nodes, a single hacker could break into the system and steal a lot of money or do even worse damage to the system.

A node is the fundamental component of any blockchain-based network. These nodes are similar to small servers. All nodes in a blockchain are connected to the others. They continually share data about the current contents of the blockchain so that the state of the entire network remains unchanged unless all its nodes agree.

Nodes, therefore, are the framework of any blockchain. Here are a few takeaway points about nodes

  • Every node in a blockchain is connected to the others
  • A node can accept or reject a new block, depending on whether the credentials or timestamp of the new block is valid. This is instrumental to the security of the network.
  • When a node successfully accepts a new block, it updates all others. This keeps the information about the state of the blockchain synchronized across all nodes.

Consensus Algorithms

Blockchains have no central body overseeing the transactions performed by their users. And yet the data in any blockchain is considered completely secure. This is made possible by special protocols pre-built into them. These protocols are called consensus algorithms.

Consensus algorithms are easy to understand. They are simply protocols through which all the nodes of a blockchain network come to a mutual agreement about the current state of the network. This continual agreement about what the blockchain’s ‘true state’ is, is achieved by node validators.

Types of Blockchain Nodes

We understand what nodes are at this point. We understand that nodes are the components that make-up blockchains and that they are computers within the network that continually receive, share and update information.

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It is also important to know there are different kinds of nodes. All of them with different characteristics. Below are some of them.

Light Nodes:

Light nodes are also known as lightweight nodes. These nodes do not hold full copies of the data on the blockchain. They save up storage space by downloading only select information called block headers. These nodes depend on full nodes to function and are used for simplified payment verification (SPV)

Pruned Full Nodes:

A pruned node as its name implies, is one that saves space by cutting off older blocks in the blockchain. This kind of node starts by downloading the entire copy of the blockchain and then deleting old blocks one by one, starting with the oldest. It continues until only select nodes that contain the most recent transactions remain.

Mining Nodes:

These nodes can either be full or light nodes. They try to ‘prove’ that they have completed the work required to create a new block. This is where the term ‘proof of work’ comes from.

Authority Nodes:

These nodes are used by networks that aren’t fully decentralized. Authority nodes perform the same function as full nodes in decentralized networks. In consensus algorithms like the Delegated proof of stake system, the network’s users vote on which authority node gets to validate each new block.

Master Nodes:

Master nodes are similar to full nodes as well. The only difference is that master nodes are unable to add blocks to the network. They only serve to verify and record transaction information.

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Lightning Nodes:

These nodes aren’t like regular nodes. They only serve as connectors between users outside the blockchain, allowing off-chain transactions. This helps to reduce the load on the network and keep transactions cheap and fast.

 

Jim Haastrup is a freelance blockchain and metaverse writer. He helps founders, investors, startups, crypto, and blockchain enthusiasts connect with their audience and win investment through the written word.

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