One of the most frequently asked questions among people with or without experience in cryptocurrencies is about how many Bitcoin nodes there are. The answer, of course, is difficult to determine exactly. However, there are fairly rough tools that can determine the close number.
These include an important variety such as Crawly , Luke.dashjr , Bitnodes , among others. It should be noted that they have different figures, which is understandable given the lack of precision when compiling this information.
An important aspect related to the nodes is that they play an important role in the development of the Bitcoin Blockchain network. In simple words, a node is a computer connected to other computers following rules and sharing information.
Why can’t the exact number of Bitcoin nodes be determined?
As already highlighted, determining the number of Bitcoin nodes that exist in the world is difficult. Some of the reasons that many of the people who have nodes, are particular. Some of them stop using them for a while or permanently. Others have dynamic IPs and, in the same way that happens with mining equipment, when they are restarted, they appear with another address.
In the latter case, many of the counted nodes are likely to be just one node whose storage is reset multiple times. In that sense, only an approximate rather than a real figure can be determined. That is the reason why different portals have different numbers posted.
To get an idea of what a node is, in a nutshell, it is a peer-to-peer network. It is responsible for hosting and synchronizing a copy of the entire Blockchain of the cryptocurrency in question, in this case Bitcoin. Therefore, they are essential elements for the blockchain to remain in operation.
Another aspect to take into consideration when determining the number of Bitcoin nodes that exist is their type. There are so-called “full nodes” and “light nodes”. Also, within the first there are some subcategories. The former are a copy of the complete Blockchain network, the latter are a partial copy of it.
Guardians of the Blockchain
The Blockchain, both that of Bitcoin and that of the vast majority of cryptocurrencies, is decentralized. In other words, it does not depend on a central entity like a bank behind it to operate the accounting books. Instead, it works by the consensus of thousands of computers scattered around the world. The latter applies to those that work with the Proof-of-Work protocol.
At this stage, the role of the nodes appears. Those should be considered as the gatekeepers of the network, since they supervise the validity of the transactions. By possessing a copy of the complete Blockchain, they are able to verify that the transactions are not fraudulent.
Consequently, they are responsible for avoiding the double spending of bitcoins that have already been previously spent. This is one of the most important tools for the existence of cryptocurrency. The important thing about the case is that the node compares the information of a transaction with the Blockchain data it contains and compares it with that of other nodes.
The greater the number of Bitcoin nodes that exist, the more secure and reliable the network becomes from hackers.
Types of nodes
As already highlighted, there are two main types of nodes, the «full nodes» and the «light nodes». The latter perform similar functions, but their operation depends on the former. Its installation requires less download and storage capacity. This is because only the block headers are required to be downloaded.
This last feature does not make it mandatory to download a complete copy of the Blockchain as in the case of full nodes . Another fact about light nodes is that they are limited to verifying transactions using a simplified payment verification (SPV).
As the Bitcoin full nodes that exist have already been highlighted , they are divided into several categories or subcategories. The first consists of the prunes full nodes. This category downloads the blocks from the beginning of the chain, but once a certain limit is reached, it deletes the information of some already processed blocks. This way, it takes up less space on your hard drive.
There are also other divisions such as mining nodes, staking nodes, authority nodes and master nodes. Some of these work for protocols like proof-of-stake and proof-of-authority.