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A Guide on the 10 Types of Blockchain Nodes

One of the most unique and attractive things about cryptocurrencies is definitely the fact that they’re decentralized. This decentralization is fueled by blockchain nodes.  Blockchain nodes make up the foundation of a blockchain network, and you can not access a blockchain’s data without one of these blockchain nodes. In fact, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that nodes are the blockchain

Breaking the concept further to you, let’s discuss what a blockchain node is and what are the different types of nodes in blockchain. 

What is Node in Blockchain?

Before we discuss ‘what are the different types of nodes in a blockchain,’ let’s have a brief overview of what a blockchain node is. Tech savvies know the term ‘node’ in computer science simply refers to a device that participates in a larger network. In the crypto world, a node is an essential and fundamental component of the blockchain network. 

In layman’s terms, a node is one of the computers that collectively run the blockchain’s software. It enables the blockchain to validate transactions and keep the network secure. Blockchain nodes communicate with one another, and keep the network decentralized.

While a single node can theoretically run the entire blockchain, all of the blockchain being stored on a single device will make it extremely vulnerable to things like power outages, hackers, or systemic crashes, not to mention the fact that the blockchain will then be very much centralized. The more there are nodes on a blockchain, the better the network’s decentralized nature is.

How Do Blockchain Nodes Work?

Another thing you need to know before we get to blockchain node types: how do these nodes work? You might be aware that blockchains are distributed ledgers that record the entire history of transactions on a specific network. It is a series (chain) of blocks containing transactions that have been agreed upon by everyone in the network as legitimate. 

Now, these data blocks are stored on nodes. These are similar to small servers; the primary function of blockchain nodes is to ensure that network transactions and blocks are valid and adhere to protocol rules.

When a user sends a transaction, a node receives it and broadcasts it to the rest of the network. The transaction is checked by all network nodes to ensure that the sender has the funds available and is authorized to send them. Once the transaction is validated, blockchain nodes add it to the newest block, which is later added to the chain. 

So blockchain nodes are responsible for the formation of a blockchain and the final settlement of transactions.

Consensus Algorithms

A consensus algorithm is a procedure that allows all blockchain network nodes to agree on the current state of the distributed ledger. These algorithms are intended to achieve reliability in a network with many users or nodes. There are several types of consensus algorithms, such as Proof-of-Work and Proof-of-Stake.

What is the Purpose of  Blockchain Nodes?

The different types of nodes in blockchain ensure data integrity and network credibility. Blockchain nodes keep a complete copy of the distributed ledger and are responsible for the data’s reliability. Also, developers use these nodes to create blockchain-based applications. 

Furthermore, assigning a unique identifier to each node in the network makes it easier to distinguish one node from another. Depending on the blockchain, there may be an infinite number of roles that the different blockchain node types play. However, the basic functions of a node are as follows:

  • Managing transactions and ensuring their validity
  • Transaction acceptance or rejection
  • Serving as a conduit of communication
  • Keeping track of the cryptographically linked blocks

The primary reasons why different types of nodes in blockchain are integral to its working are:

Maintaining the Blockchain

Nodes help to maintain and grow a blockchain network. Transactions are validated and broadcast to the network by nodes. The ‘pending’ transactions are picked up by a miner or mining pool and added to the blockchain’s universal ledger. Each data block in the blockchain is added to the storage of a node. Once validated, nodes add the new block to the previous series of blocks. All nodes on a blockchain are linked to one another, and they constantly sync to exchange the most recent blockchain data with one another. 

Validating a Transaction

To validate transactions, blockchains, including Bitcoin, use different types of blockchain nodes. On one hand, there are some nodes that participate in the network’s consensus algorithm to validate the transaction. Meanwhile, some others are only responsible for keeping the transaction record. Corda, for example, has two blockchain node types: one is required to validate transactions, and the other is required to store information for clients.

Accessing Information

All of the data stored in a blockchain network can be accessed using nodes. You can view network transactions and transaction details, and verify the records. With Etherescan, for example, you can track transactions on an ETH network. And while doing so, you will be dealing with a blockchain node.

List of Different Types of Blockchain Nodes

1. Full Node
2. Pruned Full Nodes
3. Archival Full Node
4. Authority Nodes
5. Miner Nodes
6. Staking Nodes
7. Masternodes
8. Light Node
9. Lightning Nodes
10. Super Nodes

Types of Blockchain Nodes

There are different types of nodes in blockchain, and they provide different functionalities. However, not every device in a blockchain network is a node and serves the same purpose. There are two main types of nodes in blockchain. These two blockchain node types are:

  • Full node: These types of nodes in blockchain contain a copy of the blockchain’s history, including all blocks created.
  • Light node: These types of blockchain nodes only download the essential data from processed transactions. They are used as wallets and connect to full nodes.

When we get into a bit more detail, the many types of nodes in blockchain include:

1. Full Node

In a decentralized network, full nodes act like servers. By storing a copy of the blockchain, they primarily maintain consensus among other nodes. They also ensure the correctness and verification of data on the blockchain. Before any upgrade or improvement is implemented, the network ensures that all full nodes are ready for it. These nodes are thus included in the governance of a blockchain. While there are different governance models, a blockchain is usually upgraded or improved only after a majority of full nodes agree to it. Bitcoin Core is the most popular client and software implementation of full nodes.

2. Pruned Full Nodes

Pruned nodes are blockchain node types that perform nearly all of the functions of a full node. The only difference is that the pruned nodes do not have a complete copy of the blockchain. This type of node must first download the entire blockchain from the start. Then it deletes blocks. The process begins with the oldest. And it continues until the node only retains the most recent transactions up to a predetermined size limit. For example, if a node operator sets the size limit to 100 MB, a pruned full node will only hold the most recent 100 MB of transactions.

3. Archival Full Node

An archival full node inherits the same capabilities as a full node. But it also creates a historical state or an archive. This means that archival full nodes are responsible for storing and maintaining the entire blockchain database. This type of node is useful for querying historical blockchain data that full nodes do not have access to. Archival full nodes have no set storage capacity.

4. Authority Nodes

An authority node is one that is chosen by the organization or community in charge of a blockchain. They are used to authorize new nodes to join a blockchain network. They can also manage other nodes’ access permissions in case they want to reach a specific data channel. Consensus algorithms that are not fully decentralized, such as Delegated Proof of Stake and Proof of Authority, use authority nodes.

5. Miner Nodes

A mining node is a node designed specifically to carry out the mining process. With Proof-of-Work, for example, the first mining node to solve a mathematical problem receives the right to confirm a block of transactions. Mining nodes use mining equipment and software to solve complex computational problems in order to mine new crypto and generate new blocks to add to the blockchain. A mining node can be made up of a single miner or of a mining pool.

6. Staking Nodes

Staking nodes are nodes that use the Proof of Stake consensus model to verify the validity of transactions in blockchains. Staking occurs when a staking node locks up cryptocurrency funds as collateral. The system then uses one of the staking nodes at random to process transactions and record them on the ledger. A staking node can be made up of a single user or a staking pool. To validate transactions, staking nodes use significantly less energy than miner nodes.

7. Masternodes

Masternodes are full nodes responsible for maintaining the blockchain ledger and validating transactions. However, they can not add new blocks to the blockchain. In general, masternodes are more powerful than regular nodes. Depending on the nature of the event, masternodes may also assist other events on the blockchain. These include managing voting events, providing protocol execution, and enforcing the rules of the respective blockchain.

8. Light Node

As mentioned before, these blockchain node types can only download and store block headers. Simply put, they provide only the information required to support daily activities or faster transactions. They are not involved in the block validation. Simplified Payment Verification nodes (SPV nodes) are another name for these nodes. Full nodes are required for this type of node to function. They save users a significant amount of time and storage space.

9. Lightning Nodes

Lightning nodes are used to reduce transaction latency to a bare minimum. Lightning nodes are computers or software that connect to the main blockchain and the Lightning Network. This allows for instantaneous transactions while lowering transaction costs because the network load is reduced.

10. Super Nodes

A super node is, in essence, a publicly visible full node. It communicates with any node that chooses to connect with it. A dependable super node typically runs continuously, sending blockchain history and transaction data to multiple nodes. It can be used to set or maintain the rules of a blockchain, implement a protocol change, and so on.

Conclusion

So that was a wrap on our exclusive guide to the different types of blockchain nodes.  As we know now, nodes are critical to blockchain security. Businesses and developers must be aware of the nuances of the different types of blockchain nodes to create cost-effective and fast decentralized blockchain applications. Further, the knowledge assists users in making informed decisions based on their needs.

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