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Different Types of Blockchain Nodes – A Guide

Different Types of Blockchain Nodes – A Guide

Learn about different types of blockchain nodes, their functions and how they uphold network security and decentralization in a clear concise...

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One of the most unique and attractive things about blockchain is the fact that they’re designed to be highly decentralized. This decentralization is fueled by blockchain nodes. Nodes make up the foundation of a blockchain network to function. In fact, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that nodes are the blockchain

In computer science, a ‘node’ typically denotes any device, be it a computer, smartphone, or other hardware, connected to and participating in a network. You can consider a node, in the context of blockchain, more or less similar but one that takes on a more specific role. While both involve participation in a network, in blockchain, nodes often carry the responsibility of validating and relaying transactions, ensuring the integrity and security of the entire system.

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 a Blockchain Node?

In a blockchain network, a node is a computer, server, or operator that runs the network’s client software, validating commercial transactions according to the established protocol, often in exchange for rewards. Blockchain nodes communicate with one another to maintain a decentralized network. Their interactions are built on a trustless and permissionless foundation. This means nodes do not need to trust individual participants, nor do they require permission to participate. Instead, they rely on cryptographic proofs and consensus mechanisms to validate transactions and ensure the network’s integrity. Typically, nodes are incentivized to act in the network’s best interest rather than engage in dishonest behavior.

How Do Blockchain Nodes Work?

How Do Blockchain Nodes Work
Source: Freepik

Blockchains are distributed ledgers that record the entire history of transactions within a series of blocks on networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Each block contains transactions that the network universally recognizes as legitimate. These blocks of data are stored across nodes. The fundamental role of these blockchain nodes is to validate both transactions and blocks providing a multi-layered and iterative attestation to the correctness of data and conforming to the network’s protocol rules.

When a end-user initiates/sends a (payment) transaction on a blockchain network, a node receives it and broadcasts it to the rest of the nodes. The transaction is verified by network nodes to ensure that the sender has the funds available and is authorized to send them. Once the transaction is verified, the nodes finalize and add it to the newest block, which is later appended to the chain. Depending on which network you are talking about, this process may slightly vary, but the above description offers a simplified overview of the transaction and block confirmation process facilitated by nodes.

What is the Purpose of Blockchain Nodes?

Different types of node in blockchain networks narrow themselves to three main purposes: maintenance, validation, and accessibility.

In terms of maintenance, a certain type of nodes would be responsible for keeping copies of the ledger in sync and storing encrypted data of past transactions. Some of these nodes serve as storage containers of the blockchain, allowing users to access and retrieve information from the network. They are completely transparent and accessible to anyone, providing an important point of reference for users and analysts among others.

When it comes to validation, another type of blockchain node use consensus mechanisms to ensure that all nodes remain in sync and that transactions are executed based on majority agreement. This means that nodes are algorithmically programmed to accept or reject proposals, with authenticated proposals being added to the blockchain, copied, and distributed network-wide, and unauthenticated proposals being rejected. By achieving consensus, all nodes are able to reflect the true state of the network. They also process new blocks as they are added to the blockchain, allowing for scalable growth of the network.

Another set of blockchain node serve as a gateway between third-party applications and a blockchain network. It offers an interface for querying data, submitting transactions, and obtaining real-time updates. By providing this bridge, these nodes simplify blockchain interactions, making the technology more accessible to developers, businesses, and applications. Overall, the role of each types of nodes may slightly differ according to each network, but it cannot be overstated that all these nodes play a central role to establish the security, reliability, and accessibility of blockchains.

Why is it Important to run a Blockchain Node?

So, why is it important to run different types of nodes in blockchain? The reasons are many, including:

  • Decentralization: By running a node, individuals contribute to the decentralization of the network, making it more resilient to attacks and censorship.
  • Security: Nodes validate and relay transactions, ensuring they adhere to network rules. By running a node, individuals can independently verify transactions without relying on third parties.
  • Network Integrity: More nodes mean a healthier network with better redundancy, faster propagation of transactions, and a more synchronized blockchain.
  • Empowerment: Running a node allows users to have a say in protocol upgrades or changes like, for instance, which software version or implementation to run on.
  • User Sovereignty: The decentralized and distributed nature of blockchain networks ensures that power is dispersed among its participants. This structure gives individuals control over their assets, protecting them from the whims of any single party or group that might seek to maliciously freeze or confiscate funds.
  • Contribution to the Ecosystem: Active node operators help grow and sustain the blockchain community, signaling support for the network and its principles.
  • Economic Incentives: Many blockchain networks offer rewards or incentives for running various types of nodes – be it for maintenance, or participating in consensus process or for enabling accessibility to the network for third parties and other blockchain networks.
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Types of Blockchain Nodes

  1. Full Node
  2. Archive or Archival Nodes
  3. Validator Nodes
  4. RPC Nodes
  5. Pruned Full Nodes
  6. Authority Nodes
  7. Miner nodes
  8. Master Nodes
  9. Light or Lightweight Nodes
  10. Lightning Nodes
  11. Super Nodes
Types of Blockchain Nodes
Source: Freepik

Let’s start with a quick disclaimer. Remember, the following is a comprehensive list of nodes in blockchain ecosystem but it is up to each blockchain platform to choose which ones they need and which ones they don’t. Moreover, while certain node types have typical functions, these roles can be shifted or shared among other nodes through appropriate adjustments to client configurations or underlying node architecture. Ok here we go!

1. Full Node

A full node store the entire blockchain, enabling them to fully validate transactions and blocks against the network’s consensus rules. Beyond that, full nodes play a key role in propagating this data throughout the network, ensuring timely and efficient distribution of new transactions and blocks. Full nodes though, usually abstain from suggesting new blocks for inclusion in the blockchain. By running a full node, participants can independently and authoritatively verify any transaction in the blockchain’s history without relying on external references. This self-sufficiency ensures that the network remains decentralized and resistant to malicious actors or single points of failure. Ethereum’s Geth is a popular client and software implementation for running full nodes.

Full nodes, further, play a significant role in the governance of blockchain networks. When protocol changes or updates are proposed, the choice of full nodes to adopt or ignore these changes becomes a powerful signal of consensus. By choosing to update their software in response to these proposals, full nodes effectively voice their stance, shaping the direction of the network’s evolution. Their role is not merely passive; full nodes actively enforce the network’s rules. If a majority chooses to adopt a change while others don’t, the latter may find themselves on an incompatible chain, illustrating the node’s pivotal role in realizing governance decisions.

2. Archive or Archival Nodes

An archive node, on the other hand, is a specialized form of a full node that goes a step further in its data retention. Beyond storing the complete blockchain, an archive node meticulously retains the entire historical state of the network, capturing every intermediate state between blocks. This means that for every action, be it a transaction, contract execution, or any other activity, an archive node captures and preserves the resultant change. It’s akin to having a snapshot of every moment in the blockchain’s history, allowing developers to rewind and scrutinize any moment of interest.

For projects that require a deep dive into historical data, or for debugging complex smart contracts, an archive node is an indispensable tool. However, this depth of information does come at a cost, as the storage requirements for an archive node far exceed that of a regular full node, necessitating substantial infrastructure and investment to maintain effectively. Again anyone can run an archive node on permissionless chains.

3. Validator Nodes

Unlike traditional full nodes that primarily validate and relay transactions, validator nodes (also referred as staking nodes in some networks) take a more active role in the block creation process. They are chosen, based on various criteria such as the amount of native cryptocurrency staked, reputation, or other factors, to validate and append new blocks to the chain. By proposing or validating new blocks, these nodes help achieve consensus on the next state of the blockchain. In blockchain networks like Shardeum, validator nodes take on a multifaceted role. When it’s their turn, they individually validate, achieve consensus on, and process transactions in a leaderless manner. Once these transactions are validated, the network aggregates them into batches or blocks. These consolidated groups of transactions are then relayed to archive nodes within the network for comprehensive storage and historical record-keeping.

All said, the above mentioned are based on the assumption that validators act honestly. Should they engage in malicious activities or incorrectly validate transactions/blocks, they face stringent penalties, often termed as “slashing,” which could lead to the forfeiture of their staked assets. As such, validator nodes represent a blend of trust and authority within certain blockchain ecosystems, ensuring network integrity while also fostering decentralization.

4. RPC Nodes

RPC nodes, or Remote Procedure Call nodes, serve as vital access points within a blockchain network. They facilitate external interactions with the blockchain by processing requests and executing specified functions. Developers, applications, and other network participants communicate with RPC nodes to retrieve data, send transactions, or query the state of the network. These nodes interpret and relay these external requests to the blockchain and then return the appropriate responses. While not directly involved in consensus or block validation, RPC nodes play a crucial role in bridging the gap between external entities and the underlying blockchain infrastructure, making the network more accessible and usable for a wide range of applications and services. Their presence underscores the importance of accessibility and user-friendliness in advancing blockchain adoption

5. Pruned Full Nodes

Pruned nodes, in their core functionality, closely mirror full nodes, but they adopt a more storage-efficient approach. Rather than retaining the entirety of the blockchain, they prioritize recent blocks, shedding older data to remain within a designated storage threshold. Initially, a pruned node will download the blockchain, but as it operates, it systematically discards older blocks, ensuring only the most recent data aligning with its set storage parameters is preserved. For example, if an operator allocates 550MB for a pruned node, it will maintain the latest blocks that fit within this constraint, pruning away older data as necessary. Notwithstanding their leaner storage methodology, pruned nodes retain the full-node capability to authenticate transactions and partake in consensus procedures.

6. 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. Such consensus algorithms require a fixed number of authority nodes to function. The number of authority nodes and who they will be is usually voted on by the community or determined by the development team. Other participants in the network will be running lightweight nodes, which rely on the information broadcasted by the authority nodes in order to operate on the blockchain. Authority nodes add a level of centralization to the network in order to increase speed, but they also introduce the possibility of centralized control.

7. Miner Nodes

A mining node (or miner) is a node designed specifically to carry out the mining process. With Proof-of-Work, for example, the first miner to solve a computer puzzle receives the right to confirm a block of transactions. Mining nodes employ high-performance computing systems that includes CPUs, GPUs, or ASICs to solve the puzzles, allowing them to add new blocks to the blockchain. A mining node can be made up of a single miner or of a mining pool.

Miners are one of the different types of nodes in blockchain (either full or lightweight) that attempt to prove that they have completed the necessary work (puzzle) to create a new block on the blockchain. Once a miner has solved the puzzle, they broadcast the solution to the network to be verified by full nodes. If consensus is achieved, the miner is granted the right to add a new block to the blockchain and is rewarded with a pre-defined amount of cryptocurrency coins, as well as any transaction fees associated with the block.

8. 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.

While masternodes do not have the same role as full nodes in adding new blocks, they still play an important role in the operation and security of the network. By running a masternode, users not only contribute to the security of the network, but they also have the opportunity to earn a share of the rewards for their services. To set up a masternode, users must lock away a certain amount of funds as collateral (similar to validator and staking nodes) and ensure that their node is online 24/7. Hosting a masternode on a virtual private server is considered good practice, as it helps ensure the availability and reliability of the node.

9. Light or Lightweight Node

This type of node 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. These types of blockchain nodes communicate with the blockchain but rely on full nodes to provide them with the necessary information. As they do not store a copy of the blockchain, they only query the current status of the chain and broadcast transactions for processing. They save users a significant amount of time and storage space.

10. Lightning Nodes

Lightning nodes are special types of blockchain nodes that allow users to establish a connection outside of the blockchain to facilitate faster and cheaper transactions. They are typically used in networks that leverage state channels, which is a layer 2 scaling solution atop layer 1 blockchains. This setup – both nodes and the state channel client software – work by creating a separate payment channel between two entities, such as a shop and a customer. The entities create a multi-signature address, like a safe-deposit box, to which they both have access. 

The customer deposits funds into the channel and uses them to pay for goods or services from the shop. Each transaction is agreed upon by both parties and happens almost instantly. When the customer is finished making purchases or runs out of funds, the payment channel can be closed and the final balance is broadcasted to the blockchain. This process reduces the load on the blockchain and shortens transfer times because it allows parties to interact directly without the need for each transaction to be confirmed on the blockchain. In addition, the lightning network will search for the most efficient path for transactions, with the least number of intermediaries and lowest fees, to further reduce wait times.

11. Super Nodes

Super nodes are an important part of some blockchain networks because they provide additional functionality and support. These nodes are often used to perform specialized tasks that are critical to the operation and maintenance of the network. For example, a blockchain might use super nodes to enforce network regulations or to implement upgrades. 

Unlike full or lightweight nodes, which are more common types of blockchain nodes, super nodes are not as widespread and their roles and responsibilities may vary from one network to another. Despite their specialized nature, super nodes play a vital role in the operation and success of many blockchain networks.


So that was a wrap on our exclusive guide to the different types of blockchain nodes. In the intricate web of blockchain networks, nodes serve as the foundational pillars, each with distinct roles and responsibilities. From full nodes that ensure data integrity and offer a robust transaction history, to mining nodes that fortify the network’s security through their cryptographic endeavors, each node type contributes uniquely to the ecosystem. Other specialized nodes like RPC, archive, and validator nodes further refine and optimize network functionalities, making blockchains more resilient, efficient, and adaptable. Understanding these various node types not only offers insights into the inner workings of blockchain technology but also underscores the collaborative effort that powers decentralized systems. As the blockchain landscape continues to evolve, the harmonious interplay of these nodes remains pivotal in sustaining and enhancing the promise of decentralization.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are the Most Common Types of Nodes in Blockchain?

There are several different types of nodes in blockchain networks, but the three most common types are:

  • Full nodes: A full node possesses a complete copy of the blockchain and ensures every transaction and block adheres to the network’s consensus rules.
  • Archive nodes: An archive node maintains not only the entire blockchain but also every historical state, allowing for intricate queries about any point in the network’s history.
  • Validator nodes: A validator node plays an active role in the network’s consensus mechanism, validating and endorsing transactions, and facilitating the addition of new blocks to the blockchain.

Other types of nodes in blockchain networks include RPC nodes, Lightweight nodes, Super nodes, and miner nodes.

2. What are the Nodes in Blockchain?

In a blockchain network, nodes are computers or devices that are connected to the network and perform specific tasks to support its operation. These tasks might include verifying transactions, maintaining a copy of the blockchain, participating in the consensus process to add new blocks to the chain, or providing additional services or functionality. There are several different types of nodes in a blockchain network. Each of the types of blockchain nodes serves a unique purpose and has its own set of characteristics and responsibilities.

3. What are the Different Types of Nodes in Blockchain?

There are several different types of nodes in blockchains network, including full nodes, validator nodes, archive nodes, lightweight nodes, and RPC nodes.

A full node possesses a complete copy of the blockchain and ensures every transaction and block adheres to the network’s consensus rules. An archive node maintains not only the entire blockchain but also every historical state, allowing for intricate queries about any point in the network’s history. A validator node plays an active role in the network’s consensus mechanism, validating, endorsing transactions, and facilitating the addition of new blocks to the blockchain. An RPC (Remote Procedure Call) node acts as an interface, enabling third-party applications to query and interact with the blockchain without needing to download the entire chain. A lightweight node, often referred to as a “SPV” (Simplified Payment Verification) node, holds only a subset of the blockchain, allowing for faster synchronization and reduced storage demands while still verifying transactions.

4. What is an Example of a Node in Blockchain?

A node in a blockchain is a computer or device that is connected to the blockchain network and is able to participate in the process of validating and recording transactions on the blockchain. An example of a node in a blockchain is validator node which plays an active role in the network’s consensus mechanism, validating, endorsing transactions, and facilitating the addition of new blocks to the blockchain. Another example is archive nodes that maintains the entire blockchain and every historical state, allowing for intricate queries about any point in the network’s history.

5. What is the Role of Nodes in a Blockchain Network?

In a blockchain network, nodes function as the foundational components that store, validate, and propagate transactions and blocks. They maintain the network’s integrity, ensure its decentralization, and play pivotal roles in the consensus process. Each node type, from validator to archive to full nodes, serve specific purposes, collectively ensuring the robustness and security of the blockchain ecosystem.

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