Nodes are the backbone of any blockchain network. They record every transaction on the network by creating a time stamped immutable block, that has been verified by the majority of other nodes on the chain.
There are several types of nodes, including full nodes, super nodes and light nodes. In this article, we will look at each type and their function in the blockchain on which they serve.
Full nodes are responsible for validating, relaying, and transmitting transactions. They also guarantee the security and optimal functioning of the network. This is done by maintaining a complete copy of the blockchain’s transaction history.
There are two main types of Full Node; a pruned node and an archival node.
Pruned nodes begin by downloading all blocks on the network until it reaches a certain set limit. At this point, it starts to delete the oldest blocks, only maintaining their headers and block placement. This frees up space on the node to add more recent blocks. A pruned node only holds the most recent blocks that the server size can handle. But in order to reach this state, all blocks on the chain must first be validated and recorded and then their contents pruned to only the header and placement.
Pruned nodes are still considered full nodes and as such can verify transactions and participate in the network consensus..
An archival node is what most people think of as a full node and will have the entire blockchain history recorded on it. As such it can validate transactions and help maintain consensus on the network. The difference between an archival and a pruned node is the amount of space they take up on the node’s hard drive.
Some archival nodes are unable to add blocks to the network, but most can. There are different types of archival nodes that can add blocks to the chain. The two main ones are Mining Nodes and Staking Nodes.
Mining Nodes, like Bitcoin, require node operators or miners to solve complex mathematical problems as quickly as possible in order to create the next block on the chain. These types of nodes are also known as proof of work nodes, because they must complete certain work in order to be able to broadcast the block to the network. Once this block is verified by the full nodes on the network and consensus is reached, the miner earns the right to add his block to the chain. This type of node requires huge computational power in order to solve the cryptographic problems.
Once a miner has had his block added to the chain, he is rewarded with a predetermined amount of coins and fees from the network.
Staking Nodes require node operators to hold or “stake” a certain number of coins of that blockchain in order to qualify as a node. Through a complex algorithm, staked nodes are randomly selected to validate and create new blocks. Each time a staking node is selected to have its block produced, the node is rewarded with coins from the network.
Staking nodes do not require any expensive machinery with large computational powers. One can host nodes on online servers and have their coins or tokens connected to these as proof of their stake in the node.
Staking nodes must be full archival nodes with the entire history of the blockchain recorded on it.
Another type of full node is a supernode. This type of node cannot produce blocks. Its job is to keep a record of all the transactions of the blockchain and validate them. Supernodes help secure the network and for this they can earn a share of the blockchain’s rewards. Supernodes require a certain amount of collateral to be locked away. They are also expected to be online 24/7 and be hosted on a VPN for added security.
LIGHT WEIGHT NODES
Lightweight nodes are a more lightweight version of a full node. They do not store the entire blockchain history, and instead rely on connecting to full nodes to validate recent transactions. They are typically used for mobile or light-resource devices and are useful for users who want to participate in the network and validate transactions, but do not want to store the entire blockchain on their device. They are also useful for users who don't have the resources to run a full node. Lightweight nodes can be considered as a simplified version of a full node, which can be used by anyone without the need of advanced technical knowledge.
Node operating can be complex and challenging and is best handled by experienced operators. If you are interested in running nodes, then it is advisable to consult with a professional node operator like Nodeifi. We can advise you on the best options for you to participate in this exciting area of the cryptocurrency ecosystem.