Running a Bitcoin Node on your computer or laptop
Help the Bitcoin network by validating transactions and blocks with a full node.
Running a Bitcoin Node is not as hard as you think it is.
If you can install an application on your computer, you can install a full Bitcoin node too.
In this post, I will show you step by step what you need to do to setup a full bitcoin node on your PC.
What is a Full Bitcoin Node?
A full Bitcoin node is a program that fully validates transactions and blocks that is installed on a computer.
A ‘full node’ is a computer in Bitcoin’s peer-to-peer network which hosts and synchronizes a copy of the entire Bitcoin blockchain
Nodes are essential for keeping the Bitcoin network running.
Bitcoin Nodes vs Bitcoin Miners: What’s the Difference?
Both are important to the security of the Bitcoin network but in very different ways.
Nodes are like the security guards on the network, diligently following a set of rules to distinguish legitimate bitcoin transactions from illegitimate ones.
Nodes validate all transactions that occur on the network and ensure that all proposed blocks comply with the protocol rules:
BTC cannot be double-spent under any circumstances.
BTC owner(s) must sign transactions to spend their coins.
The block subsidy cannot exceed a certain amount
Bitcoin miners solve complex cryptographic puzzles in a process referred to as “mining” on the Bitcoin “proof-of-work” blockchain. Miners essentially build the blockchain ledger through the process of solving the cryptographic puzzle (known as the SHA-256 hash function) each time a transaction is announced on the network.
Mines attempt to be the first to solve the cryptographic puzzle, have their answer confirmed by Bitcoin nodes and then appended to the blockchain ledger.
So Full Nodes and Miners are not the same but both are needed to support the Bitcoin network.
How many Bitcoin nodes are there?
There’s roughly 15700+ Bitcoin nodes globally. For illustration purposes, I found this node diagram below.
Each of the nodes here has 8 connections to other nodes which is the default amount of connections that is set in the node client software.
You can see a real time estimates the relative size of the Bitcoin peer-to-peer network on Bitnodes.
Here are the top 10 countries with their respective number of reachable nodes.
Why Run a Full Bitcoin Node?
Full nodes help the Bitcoin network by accepting transactions and blocks from other full nodes, validating those transactions and blocks, and then relaying them to further full nodes.
Running your own node allows you you to not be dependent on someone else’s node confirming your bitcoin transactions when sending or receiving a payment from another user.
Having your own node provides you with absolute certainty and a way to verify your transactions are completed accurately on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Every running node contributes to the security of the Bitcoin network through the consensus mechanism coded into the Bitcoin node software.
The more people running full nodes the better. Nodes are needed to allow Bitcoin to continue to grow and remain decentralized and secure.
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Installation & Setup Instructions
Below are the simple steps to download, install, sync and configure your full bitcoin node.
Step 1) Confirm your system requirements
To run a full bitcoin node, you don’t need a super fast computer but you do need to have enough disk space to hold the entire Bitcoin blockchain and all of the transaction since 2009.
This requires just over 600 Gigabytes of space so to be safe, you should have at least 700 to 1TB of disk space to install. The Bitcoin Core initial synchronization will take time and download a lot of data.
Here are the core system requirements to run a full node;
Desktop or laptop running Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux.
7 gigabytes of free disk space
2 gigabytes of RAM
Fast unmetered internet connection with upload speeds of at least 400kb/sec
Ability to run your node continuously or for 6 or more hours a day
Step 2) Download the Bitcoin Core installation files
Bitcoin Core comes as an executable install file is available for Windows, Mac OS X and variations of Linux.
Visit the link below on the Bitcon.org site and find the right version to download for your specific operating system.
Step 3) Install the Bitcoin node software
Once you download the install file, open it and you should see a Setup Wizard screen that looks like the following.
Once you click next, the setup will prompt you to choose a directory to store the entire Bitcoin block chain and your wallet.
Your firewall will probably block the install from making outbound connections so you will need to allow Bitcoin Core to use all networks.
Once installed, you should see this home screen for the Bitcoin Core application. If all went well, you will see “Synchronizing the Network” in the bottom left corner.
Your node software is now installed and downloading all of the transactions every processed on the network.
Step 4) Initial node synchronization
Depending on your bandwidth and computer processing power, the synchronization can take some time as it has to download a lot of data to your computer. Could take hours or even days depending on your system.
After all of the blocks are synced to your node, you can start using Bitcoin Core as your wallet or you can just let it run to help support the Bitcoin network.
This is a short condensed guide on how to set up a full Bitcoin node on your computer or laptop.
If you want to help the Bitcoin network grow, this is one of the easiest and best low cost ways to contribute and participate.
Let me know if you have any questions I didn't answer in the article above or if I made a mistake.