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We’ve all heard how Bitcoin mining can generate a passive income. But how about the passive pleasure of running a bitcoin full node?
In this article we share key benefits that bitcoin node operators can enjoy year around with their decentralized home servers.
What Is A Bitcoin Node?
Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer electronic cash system. Like the internet, a single server doesn’t maintain the entire network. Many nodes across the globe are running the Bitcoin software simultaneously, ensuring its integrity.
What are these nodes doing?
They each have a complete record of the Bitcoin blockchain starting back at the genesis block, the first block mined by Satoshi Nakamoto.
Additionally, these nodes announce transactions initiated by the users of Bitcoin.
What’s The Difference Between Bitcoin Miners And Bitcoin Nodes?
Those familiar with how Bitcoin works are likely familiar with miners. However, nodes and miners are distinct cogs in this elaborate machine.
In a very simple way we could summarize:
Wallets: Creating transactions
Miners: Verifying transactions and adding blocks to the blockchain
Nodes: Validating the blockchain and storing it
Miners use energy from the real world, validate and package transactions into blocks, and add them to the entire blockchain through a process known as ‘proof of work’.
Nodes, on the other hand, don’t need much energy at all. They simply keep a record of the blockchain as it grows. The requirements to run a node are low – No special hardware requirement, no high energy bills, or hot computers making noise all day.
While mining isn’t for everyone, everyone should consider running a bitcoin node.
Nodes Protect The Bitcoin Network From Disaster
There are two main reasons why anyone should run a bitcoin node: philosophical and practical.
Let us begin by discussing the philosophical reasons. It is essential to realize that the Bitcoin network becomes more robust with more nodes.
Imagine Bitcoin is a network of computers, all communicating with one another. Some computers are creating transactions, some are validating that those transactions are legitimate, and some are storing and recording the entire blockchain ledger as this transpires (the first and last actions are performed by nodes, the second performed by miners).
Now, let us say that you use bitcoin every day in your home country but don’t have your own node. Also, let us imagine the hypothetical scenario where all bitcoin nodes and miners of the whole network exist in a city called Pompeii.
One day, a volcano erupts and engulfs Pompeii in ash, and all the nodes and miners go offline. All your bitcoin has now disappeared because there is no longer a Bitcoin network.
However, if you had a single node that recorded the entire blockchain, then even when the volcano erupts, everyone that used bitcoin would thank you for having a record of all transactions beginning from 2009.
You will be a hero because your record of the blockchain allows everyone to verify their rightful ownership of their Bitcoin.
Of course, this is a rather unlikely scenario as bitcoin nodes are already distributed across the entire planet.
Nonetheless, it illustrates how every person who runs a node contributes to the health and safety of the whole network.
Decentralized Networks Need Users To Run Nodes
Perhaps you’ve asked yourself once, who controls the internet? The internet was designed to be ultra robust, or even anti-fragile, meaning it would grow even stronger if attacked.
But today, the internet is not fully decentralized. Countries such as China and North Korea run their own version of the internet using unique infrastructure, root servers and payment providers. The Chinese internet is not the same that Americans access.
Now in the case of Bitcoin, decentralization can be enhanced by running bitcoin nodes. Each node has a vote on protocol updates and in case an update has a negative impact can refuse to update.
Imagine numerous governments would conspire and attempted to outlaw Bitcoin and shut down all nodes in their jurisdictions.
It would be crucial to the network’s security to retain a sizable number of nodes outside of such areas in order to preserve the Bitcoin network and continuity of the system.
Another example is a severe bug. A critical mass of nodes would need to keep the network going while the vulnerability was patched if a flaw in the coding brought down a large number of nodes.
When the bug is fixed, the afflicted nodes may re-join the network.
Practical Reasons To Run A Node
Beyond the moral and philosophical reasons to run a node, there are also some practical reasons: Running a node means you have more privacy and autonomy in using bitcoin. A node broadcasts every transaction.
Say you use bitcoin, but you use a non-custodial wallet service to store and operate your bitcoin. Even if you hold your private keys, you use another company or service node to broadcast your transactions. This third party knows your IP address and everything about your transaction.
With your node, you can broadcast your transaction to the network, increasing your privacy while sending bitcoin. This also gives you the capability of querying the blockchain, understanding your transaction’s status, etc. Running a node gives you complete control and autonomy. In the world of Bitcoin, running a node is a means of taking further control over your own life.
Bitcoin is changing the world. It provides freedom, property rights, and autonomy to those who use it. Not only does running a node help keep this network alive, but it also allows any person interested in the benefits of Bitcoin to further enhance their journey towards independence.