What are blockchain nodes? How do they work?

What are blockchain nodes

What are blockchain nodes? How do they work?

 

Be it educational institutes or the internet; Blockchain is a shared absolute ledger everywhere. But do you have any idea who shares this ledger? Who maintains the decentralized blockchain ecosystem? Along with hashing algorithms, distributed ledger, and cryptography, a significant part of the blockchain world is nodes.

Before understanding the blockchain nodes concept, you should know why you need to know about them. Consider yourself as a soccer fan. You know the rules, and you may have a favorite team and some famous players. Now, you are always excited about a soccer match, and you love watching it. However, did you ever notice what if there was no soccer ground? Where would the players play?

Here, the players are the different blockchain platforms, teams are the other blockchains such as hybrid, public or private, and the playground is the blockchain node. So, in simple words, blockchain nodes help blockchains to run. 

Purpose of blockchain nodes

The primary purpose of developing a blockchain app is to increase your data integrity and offer network credibility. These can be achieved by sharing the same ledger with different systems scattered worldwide.

Blockchain means every block with data is linked cryptographically to the next block. And, if any block is modified, all the successive blocks will be changed as their value/ hash relies on the preceding block. And, if the chain of blocks was sited at one location, a hacker could change all the blocks’ values. But, because it is a distributed network, the copy of the ledger is present on multiple systems and cannot be changed. 

So, if one system is modified, the other systems are accessible to prove the integrity of the data. Thus, the accessibility of systems or blockchain nodes gives blockchain trust and integrity. Without nodes, Blockchain is nothing but a database safeguarded with crypto hashing.

The transactional record saved on the blockchain nodes is the reason behind the absolute audit-ability of data on blockchains. So, having multiple blockchain nodes worldwide helps the network be resilient to all centralized attacks and natural problems.

Even if the whole world is destroyed, you need one blockchain node to get the complete blockchain ledger to the network.

What are blockchain nodes?

The meaning of blockchain nodes differs from one application to another. With reference to a blockchain network, the nodes are electronic devices linked to an IP address network. Usually, nodes are interactive endpoints. So, if a user wants to interact with blockchains, it can be done through nodes. However, not all nodes perform the same function.

Nodes are segregated depending on their specific roles played in the blockchain ecosystem. Usually, a node maintains blockchain transaction records, but not all nodes do that. Different nodes have different roles to play depending on the requirement of the blockchain network.

For example, the Corda Blockchain has two nodes, one to validate transactions and the other for the client. Hyperledger Fabric blockchain needs several roles to render a modular design. It involves nodes for membership service providers, anchors, users, and other entities.

In short, every node has to perform a pre-defined task.

Functions of a node

According to the Blockchain, a node can perform several tasks, but the essential functions are:

  • Acceptance and rejection of transactions
  • Handling the transactions and their validity
  • Working as a communication point
  • Storing the connected blocks

Some standard functions that a node is responsible for doing are:

Handling transactions : All transactions done on a blockchain are transferred to the blockchain network node. According to their roles, some nodes handle consensus algorithms and authenticate the transaction, while others keep the record. Here, the node accepts or rejects the transactions, stores data, and shares them with peers. Sometimes nodes can share this data with other nodes for better synchronization. This is the process of recording transactions in a blockchain network.

Assisting growth : Nodes do not just help with the maintenance of Blockchain, but they are also responsible for its growth. Every new data added in the Blockchain is included in the node’s storage. So, nodes help add Blockchain blocks and sync up to draft a ledger. Block addition and transaction validation is accomplished through a consensus algorithm. 

Access Nodes offer unabated access to the Blockchain ledger. If you have access to a blockchain explorer, say Etherescan, to check transactions on an ETH network, you are dealing with a node. The block explorer is merely an interface to link you with a node and get data from it.

This proves nodes store the data, but which nodes do it. Check out the different types of blockchain nodes available.

Types of blockchain nodes

The word “node” is sometimes interchangeably used with “full node,” but both are different. A full node is a Bitcoin network computer responsible for storing and synchronizing the complete Bitcoin network blockchain.

Full nodes enjoy great significance as they vote on proposed changes made to the network. If over 51% of full nodes disagree with a proposal, it is avoided. It sometimes leads to a hard fork, as happened with Bitcoin Cash Fork in 2017.

There are various types of full nodes. Take a look at different full and lightweight nodes.

Light Nodes: Light nodes don’t have complete blockchain copies. They only have block headers, saving the download time and storage space of users. Such nodes rely on full nodes to work and help with Simplified Payment Verification.

Archival Full Nodes : They are also called “Full Nodes.” These nodes work as the spine of a blockchain network. They host the complete Blockchain with every transaction stored in their database. They validate blocks and handle consensus.

Pruned Full Nodes : Such nodes save hard disk storage space for users by pruning the old blockchain blocks. Such nodes will have to download the complete Blockchain from the start. And, then it will delete blocks starting with the oldest. So, if the size limit of the operator is 250 MB, it will hold a transaction of 250MB.

Mining nodes : Crypto mining can be done using nodes to develop a new block. The proof-of-work is used here. To achieve this role, miners should be a full node or collect data from other nodes to know the current blockchain status. 

Authority Nodes : They are used for a decentralized network. The development team decides the number of authority nodes needed, and the community votes. They form the same role as full nodes.

Master Nodes : These nodes don’t add blocks to a blockchain. They only authenticate and store transactions. Running a masternode helps users share rewards of the network. For this, you should lock some amount of money in the network’s token. DASH network uses masternodes.

Lightning Nodes : Lightning Nodes are different from all the other nodes mentioned till now. They establish a link between users out of the Blockchain to enable off-chain transactions. It lowers the network load and helps with cheaper and quicker transactions.

How do a miner and a node differ?

A miner should run a full node to choose authentic transactions to develop a new block. Only a full node can determine if a potential transaction is accurate according to the transaction history of the Blockchain. So, a miner is always a full node.

A node, on the contrary, doesn’t need to be a miner. A device can have a full node to receive, store and broadcast all transaction data (as a server) without creating new transaction blocks. Here it works as a pass point with a directory, while a miner is the same, but it also aims to develop new transaction blocks.

How do node services perform?

Blockchain node-as-a-service is offered behind the scenes so that users don’t have to run it. These services provide an API key that allows you to read and write from the Blockchain. They also offer access to Ethereum test nests and Mainnet.

Some service providers provide dedicated nodes and handle them for you, while others offer load balancers to dispense activity through nodes.

All node services can easily be integrated with a single line code change. Often, node service providers run several nodes to let you access full and archive nodes and clientele-specific methodology in one API.

Advantages of using a Node Service

The significant advantage is that you don’t have to spend your time and effort managing and maintaining nodes. So, you have all the time, resources, and money to focus on developing your product instead of taking care of the infrastructure.

Running your own nodes is a costly affair and using node service helps you manage it well. Things like upgrading and scaling nodes to the recent version can prevent you from spending your products’ resources.

Steps to Setup and Run a Full Node

To run a full blockchain node, you should follow these steps:

  • Selecting a blockchain (for instance, Bitcoin)
  • Acquiring the software and hardware required
  • Executing the node

The basic thing required to run a node is suitable hardware. It includes a small computer such as Raspberry Pi. You can run a full node in three ways:

  • Hosting a node in Cloud
  • Running a node on any device with adequate hard disk space and RAM
  • Use a node solution or develop one from the base.

Then all you need to do is monitor and maintain the node.

Conclusion

The role of a node in Blockchain is the same as the role of a server on the internet. So, if you want to be a developer, blockchain architect, blockchain consultant, or blockchain UX developer, it is imperative to understand the concept of a node.

For instance, blockchain architects should use blockchain nodes to develop streamlined solutions using node ability, computation power, and more.

Hence, you should choose a suitable blockchain certification course and become an expert to develop a career. Sofocle Labs offers universities and colleges to integrate the content into elective courses. Choose to be a professionally certified blockchain expert and explore this unique world of blockchain technology.

 

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