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Why you should run your own Bitcoin node

There are many reasons why you should run your own Bitcoin node. You’ve probably run across the mantra, “Don’t trust, verify” while falling down the Bitcoin rabbit hole. Even though full nodes are vital to the functioning of Bitcoin, many don’t know what it is. The Bitcoin network is made up of thousands of nodes that verify every single transaction on the blockchain. Be one of them!

What is a full node?

A full node is a computer participating in the Bitcoin network in several ways:
  • Validates blocks and transactions.
  • Has a local copy of the whole blockchain.
  • Relays blocks and transactions to and from other nodes.
  • Serves data to lightweight clients (such as mobile wallets).
Only a tiny minority of all Bitcoin users run their own. A rough estimate lands at ~40,000 active nodes today, of which ~16,000 are reachable.
why you should run your own bitcoin node

It’s completely voluntary and not a requirement to have one to be able to make transactions. But doing so comes with a few personal benefits and helps strengthen the Bitcoin network.

Why should I run a node?

Protect your privacy

Running a node keeps your wallet balance and transactions private. Most wallets don’t keep a local copy of the blockchain, especially not mobile wallets, since it’s too big. Instead, they connect to a node to fetch only the relevant blocks and transactions. If you don’t run your own node, info about your wallet balance and transactions could leak. The owner of the providing node can track your balance and spending habits. That could be tied to you personally if you’re not careful.
run your own node

Remove the need to trust third parties

Having a node means you don’t have to rely on or trust someone else when sending or receiving transactions. Every transaction you make is validated and relayed through a node: if not yours, someone else’s. By having your own, you can be sure that the transactions you receive are valid, confirmed and mined into a block. An unknown node owner will ill intent could try to defraud you by providing misleading information.

your node vs third party

Make Bitcoin more decentralized

By running a node, you’re part of the global Bitcoin network, making it more resilient and stable.
If an illicit actor wants to attack Bitcoin by making malignant changes to the source code, they’d have to convince many to install the software. It’s very hard to accomplish and becomes harder the more people there are who run nodes.
More nodes equal higher resilience against regional outages, government bans, or other causes for many nodes going offline simultaneously. Broad global distribution is crucial.

How can I get started?

In recent years, significant advancements have made it much easier to run a full node. From being inaccessible to all but the most technically skilled and dedicated, to become simple to set up for anyone who’s reasonably comfortable with computers.
My recommendation is to start with Umbrel OS. It’s the easiest option and comes with a beautiful interface and plenty of features bundled in one nice package. You could install it on a Raspberry Pi or buy a plug and play setup from Bitwater.
Bitcoin and Lightning Node

If you want to go deeper and have more control, check out great alternatives like RaspiBlitzmyNodeRoninDojo, or Bitcoin Core (the OG option). Just be aware that you need some more expertise on Linux if you want to run one of those.

Start thinking

Most of my understanding and appreciation for Bitcoin has come from just trying things. I’ve transacted on different platforms, configured hardware wallets, set up full nodes, and more. By using Bitcoin as a tool and not solely a financial investment, you form a deeper understanding of how useful, powerful and revolutionary it is, so better get started today!

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