A node is a computer that runs the Bitcoin software. Your node is your own version of the Bitcoin blockchain and ruleset. Think of it as your own gateway to the Bitcoin ecosystem. It broadcasts transactions, verifies the bitcoin you receive are legitimate and maintains your privacy by allowing you to participate without reliance on anyone. When you connect your wallet to your node, you are not trusting anyone else to verify your transactions.
A node helps to protect you from bad actors and it also keeps the network decentralised. If you do not have your own, you are trusting in someone else’s node to tell you how much bitcoin you have and to broadcast/receive your transactions for you. Read a more in-depth look at the ‘why’ of Bitcoin nodes here.
Your node, your rules.
When choosing which type of node you want to run there are many things you should consider, first and foremost is your budget and technical abilities. Here are some other questions to answer before making an informed decision.
- What do you need from a node?
- What features are you actually going to use?
- Which wallets you want to connect to your node?
- What hardware does your chosen project support?
- What level of support/community is there?
- Is the project being actively developed and maintained?
Types of node
Bitcoin nodes can come in many forms. Below are the four main categories they fit into and the external links to the projects we have covered.
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- Bitcoin Core - Running the Bitcoin core software on a computer
- Plug + Play - Pre built dedicated node boxes that are ready to roll
- DIY - Build your own node using specified hardware + software