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The Different Kinds of Bitcoin Full Nodes

In the bitcoin network, full nodes are the enforcers of consensus rules. A full node (short for “fully-validating bitcoin node) is a computer running the bitcoin software that validates all transactions and blocks that are sent through the network, ensuring that only valid transactions and blocks get added to the full node’s local copy of the blockchain and forwarded to other bitcoin nodes. But not all full nodes are created equal. There are several different kinds of bitcoin full nodes, and the kind of full node you run will make a difference in not only how much value you’re able to get from your full node but also how much value you can provide back to the bitcoin network.

Pruned selfish full nodes

A pruned node is a full node that “prunes” raw block and undo data by deleting it from disk. This is done to save disk space. A selfish bitcoin node is a bitcoin node that does not upload new blocks or transactions to other bitcoin peers. These nodes will only download and validate blocks locally.

Users of pruned selfish full nodes are able to get the benefit of using their own full node to validate new blocks and verify that their transactions have been included in the most difficult valid blockchain while also saving hard drive space by deleting unnecessary data.

Archival selfish full nodes

An archival node is a full node that stores a complete copy of the bitcoin blockchain data on disk. With this data, the archival node operator can make queries against the blockchain to find information pertaining to particular transactions or addresses. To make advanced queries, a full blockchain index can be built from the complete blockchain dataset.

Pruned network full nodes

A network node is a full node that uploads or “relays” bitcoin block and transaction data to connected peers using either or both of the IP “clearnet” and Tor. Network nodes can limit the amount of data they upload per day to save bandwidth. A pruned network full node will download and verify new blocks before relaying them to peers. Since pruned nodes do not store a complete copy of blockchain data on disk, they are unable to upload copies of archival block data that they do not have.

Archival network full nodes

An archival network full node is a node that can upload complete copies of archival block data to peers on the bitcoin network. Archival network nodes are useful for bootstrapping new full node peers or helping SPV wallets discover the balance of their addresses.

Economic full nodes

Economic nodes are full nodes that accept bitcoin in exchange for value. These are the nodes that actually give bitcoin monetary value. Without nodes that are willing to accept bitcoin in exchange for valuable goods and services, bitcoin would be worthless.

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