A Bitcoin full node is the equivalent of being your own self-soverign bank.
Validates all the rules of Bitcoin - A full node ensures you are actually receiving the bitcoin you think you are. Not running a full node means you are outsourcing the truth from an external source. It's better to use the source of truth directly.
Increases privacy - If you don't use a full node your transactions need to go through the service meaning they could track transactions. A full node broadcasts transactions directly to the Bitcoin network.
It helps the network - Running a full node increases network decentralization which increases the security of the network as a whole. In addition, if you open port 8333, others will be able to download blockchain data from you.
Your voice - In the event of a hard fork, running a full node is the only sure way to know which network consensus rules you are following.
May take +1 days to sync the blockchain from scratch depending on your hardware specs.
Wallet's send function isn't fully functional until the blockchain is fully synced.
Run online 24/7 to continuously sync new blockchain data or it needs to catch up once back online.
The blockchain uses +321 GB (as of Jun19/2020) of hard drive space and grows roughly every 10 minutes.
Note: You can enable pruned mode to reduce disk space required to as little as 2 GB.
- +321 GB (as of Jun 19/2020) of hard drive space for the standard full node or +10 GB for a pruned node.
- 2 GB of RAM or more.
- Internet plan that can accommodate the initial +321 GB (as of Jun19/2020) download of the entire blockchain and the +20 GB sync per month.
Note: If you open port 8333 your internet plan must accomodate the upload bandwidth used by others downloading data from your full node.
Let's go over the 3 ways you can utilize a full node:
Download the bitcoin core software and use the built in wallet to transact.
Use a wallet that supports connecting your full node to the wallet. You'll need to have Bitcoin Core installed and synced.
Use a wallet that auto-connects to someone else's node. This is convenient but the least desirable as it requires more trust in the company.
Running a full node is easy and can be done on any computer:
- Download and install the Bitcoin Core software.
Note: You can download a full node on Android here.
- Open the program and let it sync the blockchain
Note: It may take a few hours up to over a day to sync and the wallet isn't usable until it's fully synced.
Optional: Port forward 8333 on your firewall if you want to help update other full nodes on the network. (Requires internet plan with high upload cap)
“Bitcoin is the beginning of something great: a currency without a government, something necessary and imperative.”