In this article, we answer the questions:
- What is a (full) Bitcoin node?
- How can anyone run a Bitcoin node?
- What are the benefits of running a Bitcoin node?
What is a (full) Bitcoin node?
Very simply put, a node is your computer, mine, and that of anyone in the world who wants to participate in the Bitcoin network by validating transactions and blocks. Participation is voluntary and absolutely democratic: as long as there is an internet connection then people from any background, geographical areas, status or gender can access and contribute to the free and open Bitcoin system. This is what makes it decentralized among other features.
How Can anyone run a Bitcoin node?
Download Bitcoin Core
There are a few options but I want to describe here the original and only software whose code is based on the one developed by Satoshi Nakamoto: Bitcoin Core. This will also verify transactions and blocks and can be downloaded from bitcoin.org; not to be confused with bitcoin.com which is BitcoinCash, a hard fork of Bitcoin BTC.
Bitcoin Core 0.18.0
Only a few days ago, developers published the new version 0.18.0 of what it’s also called a Bitcoin Core full client. A new version is released roughly every three months and for the first time, this includes interaction with hardware wallets Ledger, Trezor, Digital BitBox and KeepKey allowing users to achieve a higher level of security.
System requirement for download
Minimum requirements on any operating system are a disk space of 5GB, Memory RAM of 256MB, Upload of 10MB/day (300MB/month) and download of 150MB/day (5GB/month). One time 195 GB download is required the first time you start Bitcoin Core.
Now you’re ready to access the full blockchain
After installation, you will have to wait until the initial synchronization of the entire Bitcoin blockchain is done, which may take several days depending on your bandwidth and the number of connected Bitcoin nodes.
Benefits of Running a Bitcoin Node
It might require a bit of technical knowledge and the need to learn the different commands to perform or view a list of transactions, to generate new addresses, etc, but the result to use your own node is that more privacy and higher security are guaranteed, lower fees are required and if you’re really in a hurry and need to speed up the transaction you can do so by simply adding a higher fee in the settings.
This is something that cannot be done if you’re storing and using centralized wallets or exchanges where you do not have the freedom to control the speed and security of your assets. Running a node ensures that your Bitcoin transactions are verified and sent to whoever you’re transacting with, putting the power to send uncensorable money across the world in your hand while contributing to the security, growth, and strength of the Bitcoin network itself.
And more benefits
Along with these reasons, you are now fully contributing in keeping the decentralized Bitcoin network alive thus bringing us closer to a future where governments and other authorities cannot stop the process and cannot interfere with the ownership of your finances.
Your own financial independence will, yes, require a bit more technical expertise but it will be worth the freedom to send the quantity of money you own anywhere you want at any time of the day/week and without censorship. Trust is established by the network without the need of any third party guaranteeing or verifying a transaction.
If you’re running a node it does not mean you’re also mining bitcoins. We will discuss the mining feature another time.