Many of us dabble with Bitcoin but seldom actually get our hands dirty in the nitty-gritty - yet that's often where the benefits lie. Hosting your own Bitcoin node, for example, not only steadies and decentralizes the network, but it can confer greater user privacy and security.
For the less technical among us, however, running a node can be a daunting undertaking. Fortunately, there's a guide for that.
Node.guide outlines the ins and outs of running a Bitcoin node, from which software to use to which pre-fabricated hardware is available, and even how to DIY and build a node from scratch. The site goes into detail on all three options and even lays out a comparison of their basic features, including hardware compatibility and whether they support Lightning.
“I created the guide to first answer the 'why' of running a node,” pseudonymous Node.guide creator “Bitcoin Q&A” told the BTC Times. “It's not always clear to Bitcoin newcomers why running one is important.
“The second reason was to create a single hub that showcased all of the different options and features of each implementation. Currently, the information is very fragmented and unless you know what you're looking for, it's difficult to know where to start,” he added.
In short, a Bitcoin node hosts and syncs a copy of the Bitcoin blockchain. A node validates transactions and blocks and otherwise keeps the network decentralized and operational; globally distributed nodes are the reason behind Bitcoin's 99.98% uptime.
For those looking to disintermediate further, hosting a node confers other advantages such as security and privacy - allowing users to verify their own transactions rather than leave the task to another network participant.
The most common and popular approach to running a node is Bitcoin Core. Running a node using Bitcoin Core is as simple as downloading Core's Bitcoin client on a laptop or computer. Bitcoin Core offers an intuitive and simplistic UI, enabling the user to send, receive, and verify transactions via their own node.
However, the guide does note that to validate transactions using an external wallet that's separate from the Bitcoin Core-provided wallet, the device running the node needs to be operational 24/7.
The latest to jump on the node running bandwagon is business intelligence firm MicroStrategy. After investing almost half a billion dollars in Bitcoin, the firm has confirmed that its faith in the cryptocurrency has no boundaries.
"MicroStrategy has been running a full node of Bitcoin Core version 0.20.1 for over a month now. We are thrilled to do our part to support the growth of the #Bitcoin," tweeted MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor.
For Bitcoin Q&A however, it’s MicroStrategy’s actions, not words, that matter most.
It's great that big corporations are raising awareness with nodes, although I'm skeptical as to whether MicroStrategy are actually using their node. That's the important thing, merely having one running doesn't help much.