Full Node vs. Light Client: What’s the difference?

2 min read

So you’re just getting into cryptocurrency, and you’re looking for an easy way to get involved, right? Downloading the entire blockchain may seem like a daunting task, but luckily you have other options! We’re here to explain the differences between a light client and full node! Check out our video or read below for all you need to know about a full node vs. light client!

A full node contains a full copy of the blockchain, while a light client is referencing a trusted full node’s copy of the blockchain. This allows users to transact on the blockchain without downloading an entire copy of the blockchain. And this is no small file. The entire history of the blockchain has to be downloaded, and for Bitcoin this is about 27GB.

Obviously, if you have a device that doesn’t have that kind of memory or processing power, a full node isn’t really an option for you. Instead you’re probably going to use a light client. Most mobile wallets are light clients, as most cell phones don’t have the memory to run a full node. Downloadable light clients are also available for computers.

You may be thinking that light clients are the best way to interact with the blockchain, but there are some benefits from running a full node too. Full nodes help process or validate transactions, so if you’re interested in mining, you most likely have to be using a full node. Full nodes also contribute to the functionality of a network. By running a full node you’re helping support the network.

If you’re a beginner, I definitely recommend getting acclimated with a light client. It’s just going to make your life easier, and who knows maybe you’ll get interested in mining and make the leap to run a full node! While full nodes are the backbone of the network, light clients allow great accessibility and ease of use.

WTF IS is our series where we explore some of the most frequently asked questions about blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and the technology surrounding these fields. Looking to get acquainted with blockchain? Then WTF IS is the perfect series for you!

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