Six Reasons Why You Should Run Your Own Bitcoin Node

Let me explain quickly that a Bitcoin node is any computer which runs a piece of software (Bitcoin Core) that has some important jobs:

Your Bitcoin node needs to keep a copy of the entire Bitcoin blockchain. It has to connect with other nodes, forming a network of communication, which propagates transactions (transactions are kept in a “mempool”, i.e., the queue of transactions waiting to be included in the next block, and thus added to the blockchain). It needs to check that all additions to the blockchain are valid, and reject those that are not valid. It will provide details about the blockchain — such as balances — to other types of software that ask, like wallets. And it will provide a copy of the blockchain to any new node that wants to join. The new node then independently checks that every transaction in the copy it receives is valid. It does not actually “trust” the connected node.

To run a node, you download Bitcoin Core software, and then let it copy the blockchain from other nodes, and your node verifies each block itself. You then leave it on, and new blocks are received roughly every 10 minutes (the blocks contain transactions taken from the mempool). Your node will check if the block is valid, and if so, add it to its copy of the blockchain.

A dodgy block gets rejected, not because everyone else rejects it, and not because everyone copies their neighbor, but because the block is invalid according to the rules contained in the Bitcoin Core software, and everyone else that is running the same software will also reject that dodgy block.

Your Bitcoin wallet does not keep a copy of the blockchain, and is usually separate from Bitcoin Core (although Bitcoin Core does have a wallet feature). Your wallet just holds your keys. It has to ask a Bitcoin node, “Hey Mr. Node, this address of mine, does it have any bitcoin in it?” Technically that’s not quite accurate, but this is sufficient for now.

Running your own node means you don’t ask other people what their copy of Bitcoin Core is doing. It’s your own copy of Bitcoin Core, and you don’t need to trust other people. Your wallet can ask YOUR copy of the Bitcoin blockchain (making the digital connection between your wallet and node is the technically challenging and critical part, not just running the node — an article for another day).

So with the preamble done, let me next explain why it is important to run your own node:

Reason 1


When your wallet tells you your bitcoin balance, it asks a RANDOM public Bitcoin node what balance each of your addresses contains. It then gives you the results, and you see your total bitcoin in that wallet. Even empty addresses which you haven’t used get queried. Surveillance companies run some of these nodes. “What the Hell?” Yes, it’s true.

You are telling a random entity, possibly a surveillance company, your IP address (which can be used to identify you), and that you have a Bitcoin wallet, and ALL of your current and future addresses you’ll use within that wallet, and all the balances of all those addresses, now and later. Providing this information to surveillance companies is dangerous for many reasons. For example, this data can be leaked intentionally — to the government when requested — or unintentionally (to hackers). Governments may target Bitcoiners with heavy wealth taxes or confiscation, as the US government once did for gold with order 6102 in 1933, and hackers may target you to extort or trick you out of your bitcoin.

Reason 2

You can confirm for yourself trustlessly that you are receiving real bitcoin.

For example, when you sell something, a technically sophisticated buyer could potentially manipulate which node your wallet connects to. They could send you counterfeit bitcoin, and your wallet would think it’s received real bitcoin because the malicious node lied to your wallet. Granted, this is very unlikely, but the fact that you can prevent it by running a node makes the development of this kind of attack not interesting or fruitful. What actually happens with this attack? The scammer somehow gets your Bitcoin wallet to read the wrong blockchain from a malicious node. He moves supposed bitcoin on THAT blockchain, not the real one, and your wallet thinks you’ve been paid.

If you get scammed in this way, you may accept this counterfeit as final payment, and may send goods in exchange for the fake bitcoin. One day, when you connect to a genuine Bitcoin node, your wallet will show that you never in fact received bitcoin. Your balance will be lower than what you thought it should be, because the fake transfer never existed on the real Bitcoin blockchain.

You can prevent this by connecting your wallet to a node you trust, but even better is to connect to your own node. “Don’t trust, verify,” is the Bitcoiner’s mantra.

Not doing this is kind of like accepting gold as payment, and asking a random person to use their XRF analyser to check if the gold you received is real. You don’t know if that random person is on the side of the buyer, or if they are honest.

You might ask, “No trust? Wait, aren’t I trusting Bitcoin Core when I download it? How do I know THAT’s not fake?” Yes and no. There are ways to verify that the software you downloaded is genuine, but that’s not for this article.

You might then ask, “Aren’t I trusting the developers that the genuine copy is behaving as I expect?” Actually yes, unless you write the software yourself, or read the code, or pay someone to read the code — but then you are trusting them. There has to be some level of trust, but the idea is to keep it to a minimum. (Just saying that might get me in trouble with the Bitcoin mob, shhh!) Most people (me included), can’t and won’t read the code, so there is some element of trust. The trust is that hundreds, maybe thousands, of developers’ eyes are going over the code looking for errors and problems before it is released. It’s not easy to make changes to Bitcoin Core, and this is a feature, not a bug. Using the gold XRF analyser analogy, you are probably not going to build one from scratch to check whether or not your gold is real, and that’s okay.

Reason 3

Defend the Bitcoin rules from unwanted changes — like scarcity or block size.

If a group of “powerful” people banded together, as they did in 2017, and decided to try to change the rules of how Bitcoin works (for example, by increasing the block size), you can choose to not upgrade your node to the new system and keep your current node. If you are more than the minority, there will be a pool of people running the unchanged Bitcoin Core and a pool of people running the changed version — a fork. This is how Bitcoin Cash was born. The new version was unanimously rejected, but those who lost the war kept running their nodes and mining bitcoin cash as well. Those who owned bitcoin then also owned bitcoin cash. For a given address, there was one balance on the Bitcoin blockchain, one balance on the Bitcoin Cash blockchain.

If you weren’t running your own node at the time, you had no say in this war. Your wallet might have connected to a Bitcoin Cash node and someone might have paid you in bitcoin cash instead of with bitcoin. You then might have given up your goods in exchange for coins that didn’t meet the monetary policy you preferred.

Reason 4

If you run a node, and leave it on 24 hours a day, this helps the network.

The more nodes that are running, the faster transactions can propagate for everyone, and the harder it is to shut down Bitcoin. In order to kill Bitcoin, every single copy of the blockchain must be destroyed.

Reason 5

Be an “Uncle Jim”.

In the future, it may be too challenging for EVERYONE to run their own node, but we don’t want people trusting random nodes. I imagine there will be a technical person in every social “circle of trust” (“Uncle Jim”) for people to connect their wallets to. This tiny trade-off is far better than connecting to random public Bitcoin nodes.

If you learn to run your own node, then YOU also become a kind of human node, because you could one day help someone else to run and use their own node.

Reason 6

Coolness factor and street cred.

Running your own node is super cool, and gives you a great appreciation of the power of Bitcoin. You’ll probably end up buying more.


Hopefully, it is clear now why you should run a node. There are various ways. If you want individual help, see here. For the computer illiterate, help is available at

This is a guest post by Arman the Parman. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.


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Latest Umbrel Update Further Improves Bitcoin Privacy, Self-Sovereignty

This week, open-source Bitcoin and Lightning Network node developer Umbrel released a significant update to its operating system, bringing a list of notable improvements to its wallet and UX, plus several additions to its celebrated Umbrel App Store. 

The Umbrel App Store was released December 2020 and has brought single-click installation of some of the most popular Bitcoin apps since then. This latest update brings the addition of Samourai Server, a explorer and LNBits.

The Umbrel v0.3.3 operating system update also allows users to easily connect to an external wallet to monitor and send transactions. This update also integrates the latest versions of Bitcoin Core (v0.21.0) and LND (v0.12.0).

About The Apps

Samourai Server is an exclusive, Umbrel-only app that runs both Samourai Dojo and Whirlpool out of the box, and provides easy, step-by-step instructions to the user so they can effortlessly connect their Samourai wallet. This represents the highest-level of privacy that you can achieve as a Samourai Wallet user, because you no longer have to trust its servers with any of your data. Also, with Whirlpool, your Umbrel can now mix your bitcoin at any time. 

Mempool is the self-hosted version of the Bitcoin blockchain explorer. It brings all of the features of to your Umbrel app, allowing you to use your Bitcoin node as a full-fledged explorer, visualize the mempool and get on-chain fee estimates. 

See Also

Bitcoin development nonprofit Brink has awarded its first fellowship to Gloria Zhao, who will work on package relay for Bitcoin mempools.

With LNbits, users can onboard their friends and family members to the Lightning Network relatively easily by hosting their wallets directly through Umbrel, without them having to worry about running a Lightning node or managing channel liquidity. 

Most Bitcoin and Lightning wallets have their own unique procedures for connecting to a personal Bitcoin node, and there isn’t a standard protocol. Some require additional steps, such as installing Tor, and some don’t, but the process isn’t obvious to most non-technically inclined people. The new wallet connector in Umbrel v0.3.3 provides easy to follow, step-by-step instructions for connecting most of the popular Bitcoin and Lightning wallets, like Electrum, Wasabi, Zap and BlueWallet. 

Combined with the seven apps that launched with the Umbrel App Store a few weeks ago (BTCPay Server, Specter Desktop, Sphinx Relay, RTL, Lightning Terminal, ThunderHub and BTC RPC Explorer), this latest update further solidifies that one-click install financial self-sovereignty is no longer a far-fetched dream with Umbrel.


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Are You Running a Bitcoin Node?

“Are you running the numbers?”

This is what Bitcoin Core developer Andrew Chow is trying to find out in a new survey. 

Sponsored by a grant from MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative, Chow crafted the survey “to get answers from people who are not current users” about why they don’t run a Bitcoin Core full node, the wallet software which simultaneously keeps a record of Bitcoin’s transaction history and connects users to other peers in the network.

Bitcoin full nodes are like servers so, if you’re not running your own to broadcast transactions to the wider network, then you’re relying on someone else’s.

Moreover, a full node offers users complete control over what encoded rules they want to follow, as well as the ability to independently verify a variety of network data. The popular Bitcoin memes “One node, one vote” and “Run the numbers” demonstrate that these principles of self-verifiability and freedom of choice are core principles for Bitcoin’s most fervent followers.

In short, running a full node is the ultimate exercise in financial self-determination in the Bitcoin realm.

So that’s why Chow launched the survey, which runs until March 2, to give developers an “idea of the biggest barriers facing people who might want to run a node but currently do not.” The inspiration came from a conversation with fellow developers about the removal of a little-known wallet feature for Bitcoin Core.

“Several months ago, a few other Bitcoin Core developers and I were discussing the removal of a feature called zapwallettxes. The main question that we had was whether anyone actually used it. This basically led to the general sentiment of wishing to know how users actually use Bitcoin Core,” he told CoinDesk in a direct message.

Bitcoin Core usage survey

The survey’s first questions establish the basics: where are you from, how’d you find the survey, do you run a Bitcoin Core full node?

If the respondent replies that they do run a node, the survey follows up by asking if they use the Bitcoin Core wallet and if they ever have in the past. If you do run a node, the survey will continue to grill you over the specifics of your use: how often you update, what other software/hardware you use, why you run a node, etc.

If you don’t run a node, the survey asks you what wallet you use if you own bitcoin and what barriers have kept you from running a node, be they technical complexity or otherwise.

How many Bitcoin nodes are there?

Measuring the total number of active nodes on the Bitcoin network is tricky, because some nodes may choose to be open to connect to any other node (a “listening node”), while others may choose to keep their connections closed and private (a “non-listening node”)

Still, one of the more accurate metrics comes from prolific Bitcoin developer Luke Dash Jr., whose data estimates there are roughly 83,000 Bitcoin Core nodes currently active (and just over 1,100 or so of Bitcoin’s other few software versions).

This is long shy of the 200,000 Bitcoin nodes that were running back at the peak of 2017’s market cycle, according to the same data, but still more than the 40,000 or so that were operating in the aftermath of March 2020’s historic sell-off.

Active Bitcoin Nodes Since 2017
(Shuai Hao/CoinDesk Research )

Source: Luke Dashjr

Better-than-expected response

So far, the survey has 600 recorded responses, which is more than Chow and his peers projected for the early stages of the survey, which will run for roughly five more weeks.

Chow said he plans to publish the data he collects once it’s fully analyzed, adding that “there are no plans to act on the results.” Bitcoin’s development is distributed, after all, so coordinating around specific changes for the diversity of users in the survey isn’t practical.

“Instead [the answers] will help us when there is a question about how users behave. There could be direct changes as a result of the survey, but that depends on the results. The survey is being conducted as more of an overarching ‘what are our users doing?’ rather than trying to figure out some specific feature or detail that we should be doing.”



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