The sanctity of the Bitcoin network depends on people all around the world running their own nodes. There are currently over 10,000 full nodes distributed all over the world.
What is a Bitcoin node?
A Bitcoin node stores the entire history of the Bitcoin blockchain and helps to maintain the consensus parameters of the chain by validating and processing transactions.
Those who run their own nodes are “good Bitcoin citizens” (according to Saifedean Ammous) that ensure the sanctity and continuity of the protocol. It it thanks to node operators that the Bitcoin blockchain is able to continue to operate as it should.
Why is it important to have more nodes?
It is important to have more nodes because the more nodes there are, the harder it is for anyone to change the Bitcoin blockchain.
Nodes are the decentralised resistance against making any changes to the protocol and ensuring that the blockchain can operate under the same parameters ad infinitum.
Perhaps the most significant example of nodes being used to resist any changes to the blockchain would have been Mircea Popescu’s refusal to accept any Bitcoin onto MPEx.
MPEx was one of the first Bitcoin exchanges, and before being sold for 125,000 Bitcoin was extremely significant in maintaining Bitcoin’s current consensus.
Mircea Popescu (after whom the exchange was also named) was extremely insistent, as “the Father of Bitcoin maximalism”, that the nodes that MPEx ran would outright reject any Bitcoin that didn’t have a block size of 1 MB.
How easy is it to set up a node?
Setting up a node isn’t difficult to do, and doesn’t require any special hardware. Anyone can download Bitcoin Core on their computer and start to run a node, although they should be aware that downloading the entirety of the Bitcoin blockchain may take some time.
All that one needs to run a node is a computer (it doesn’t have to be particularly sophisticated – one can even use a Raspberry Pi) and an Internet connection.
There are companies which are focused on helping people to host their own node more easily than ever before.
Umbrel is focused on making it even easier to set up a node than ever before, with a far better UI and UX. They are one of many companies that are seeking to help make it easier for people to run their own full nodes and validate their own transactions.
This is important not only for the sanctity of the blockchain itself, but also for those who want extra security – running one’s own node means that one is not dependent on trusting third party providers to validate transactions, which could be gamified to trick people or could compromise privacy and security.
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