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What are nodes in a peer-to-peer network?

Nodes are an essential part of any blockchain network. Every network has different types of nodes, but generally speaking, all nodes. They ensure the decentralization, security and transparency of the network by validating user data and keeping its historical record true and unaltered.

Let’s dive deeper into the world of blockchain nodes. 

Consider Bitcoin nodes for the sake of example. Bitcoin has thousands of nodes checking transaction data and storing their own record of the network’s history. There are two main types of nodes. full nodes and light nodes . The full ones hold, in real time, the entire copy of the blockchain, while the light ones (which are the majority) only keep certain recent parts of the blockchain without which they could not function, but not the full copy of it.

Full nodes are vital to the network because they are the guarantee of the network’s integrity. They keep the entire copy of the blockchain intact, from the first transaction made with the Genesis block in 2009 to the most recent one. This copy of the blockchain is constantly growing, and at the moment its size is almost 350 GB. Although it only reached 1 GB in February 2012, from 2014 the growth started to be exponential.

There are also mining (or validating) nodes and non-mining nodes. Mining nodes run additional software that works to add new blocks to the blockchain and in this way the network issues new bitcoins into the network economy. The process of mining and validating data is explained in a previous lesson. Miners earn it as a reward for their work in securing the network by verifying and validating transactions within it.

Bitcoin and many other networks are designed so anyone can run a node. Networks like Solana, Ethereum, Oasis, and others all have different specifications required to run a node. Every node is not equal. But public decentralized networks make the specifications required to run a node publicly available to anyone who is interested. 

Sometimes running a node requires a bit of technical expertise, but many software teams are working to make node maintenance as simple as possible for Bitcoin, Oasis, or any other network. Obviously, for those who are passionate about the technical field and want to learn as much as possible about blockchains can complete the Do-It-Yourself process to running a node. Other users should explore simpler node solutions.