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Jul 185 min read

What Is A Bitcoin Node?

If you are new to the land of Bitcoin, you may have heard specific terms such as miners, nodes, transaction fees, block rewards, and mempool. Hearing Bitcoiners speak in these terms can be a bit disorienting at first. It is as if you are visiting a foreign country where everyone speaks a different language.

Essentially, they are, and the best way to pick up the lingo is to immerse yourself in the Bitcoin culture and learn what these words mean. Have you heard the term bitcoin node before? If not, that is ok. I will try to break it down what it means in the simplest way possible.

What a Bitcoin node is at the root of it is a device that ensures the transactions on the Bitcoin network abide by the rules of what a Bitcoin is. You can think of a Bitcoin node as the referee and scorekeeper of the Bitcoin blockchain. If the transaction doesn't follow the rules, it will be rejected and won't be included on the blockchain.

If a transaction passes the test, it is included in the next block and is good to go. A Bitcoin node also shares this information with other nodes so they can confirm the same information your node just confirmed.

A Bitcoin node also keeps a full copy of the transactions completed on the network since its inception on January 3, 2009. EVERY SINGLE TRANSACTION. This is 13 years' worth of transactions that have been kept track of dutifully without fail. This is amazing if you step back and think about it for a second.

The more nodes in the network, the more robust and decentralized Bitcoin becomes. This makes Bitcoin more resilient to attacks from state actors and other entities trying to take down Bitcoin in the future. It is said that there are roughly 47,000 nodes in operation today. This number may be on the conservative side, but needless to say, it is a lot and growing all the time.

Imagine if everyone in the world was running a Bitcoin node. Bitcoin would be impossible to kill because to kill Bitcoin you would have to rid the world of every single copy of the Bitcoin ledger. Bitcoin is a revolutionary technology that anyone can get access to TODAY.

How Can You Build Your Own Node Today?

If you are thinking about creating your own Bitcoin node, you are in luck. It is straightforward to do. You can build one with off-the-shelf parts or buy a done-for-you node from multiple vendors.

The simplest way to run a Bitcoin node is to grab a laptop and go to Bitcoin.org to download the node software to your computer. Once the initial block download (IBD) is completed, your node will be fully synced to the Bitcoin blockchain.

Here is the minimum set of requirements for your laptop to become a Bitcoin node:

  • Desktop or laptop hardware running recent versions of Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux.

  • 7 gigabytes of free disk space

  • 2 gigabytes of memory (RAM)

  • 1 TB hard drive

You can't go wrong running Bitcoin core on your laptop. Bitcoin Core user interface is very simple and easy to understand. It's not pretty, but it will get the job done. A word of advice it is best to run this software on a computer you won't be using daily to protect your computer from the malware that could infect your computer and expose information about your node or Bitcoin holdings.

If you are looking for plug-and-play solutions, a few companies sell nodes ready to go.

Start9 is a company that offers a plug-and-play node ready for primetime. You can purchase a node for $485 today.

Nodl is another excellent company to take a look at.

MYNODE is another great company to check out as well.

The Bitcoin Machines is a beautiful plug-and-play node that is worthy of putting on display :)

If you like building your node from scratch, go with Umbrel. They provide a list of parts you can order from Amazon and begin running a node in 5 mins. It is simple to set up and has a great user interface. If you want to build your own node, here is what you will need:

Raspberry Pi 4

1TB+ SSD

SSD Enclosure

16GB+ microSD

Power Supply

Ethernet Cable

Case

Once you acquire the necessary hardware, Umbrel will walk you through the steps. Honestly, it's so easy a caveman could do it, in my opinion.

Hopefully, this article piques your interest in wanting to run a full node and help the Bitcoin network get more robust and more decentralized! If you have questions, feel free to reach out! I love helping people start their Bitcoin journey!

If you found this article helpful, please consider contributing! It helps greatly and allows me to do what I love most, write about Bitcoin! Any amount is truly appreciated.

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