Why run a node?
Update: Casa Node software is no longer maintained; we recommend looking at other build-your-own node projects.
This article explains why it’s important to run a Bitcoin node:
- Making the Bitcoin network more robust.
- Protecting your investment in Bitcoin.
- Faster querying.
- Strongest privacy available.
- Earning Bitcoin with Sats App and Casa Node.
The most important quality of Bitcoin is its decentralized nature; there’s no single entity capable of controlling or manipulating it. Because of this, there must be some way to maintain its integrity without trusting any single entity to do so. This is precisely what Bitcoin full nodes are tasked with. However, unlike mining, there aren’t direct financial incentives for running a Bitcoin full node—so why should you run one?
What is a Bitcoin full node?
You’ll often hear Bitcoin called a “peer-to-peer” network, meaning it’s decentralized and no third-party is required to ensure its fair use. This is possible due to the use of fully validating nodes.
Each Bitcoin full node keeps its own copy of the Bitcoin blockchain and uses that copy to validate all bitcoin transactions and blocks. Once a node validates a transaction or block, it relays that data to other full nodes so that they can come to a consensus. This responsibility of validating the whole blockchain and enforcing the rules of Bitcoin is what makes a node “full.”
Why run a node?
There are multiple reasons to run a node, depending on your goals. Bitcoin software developers use full nodes for API access to the Bitcoin network and blockchain. In addition, companies that build applications for sending and receiving Bitcoin transactions often run several full nodes.
Some Bitcoiners’ motivation for running a full node is to make the network more robust. The greater the number of full nodes that are used to verify transactions, the more decentralized and resistant to certain types of attacks the network becomes. If you believe in Bitcoin’s ethos of decentralization, running your own node is the best way to support that.
Additional incentives for running a node aren’t as altruistic. Casa’s own Jameson Lopp notes a handful of indirect incentives:
- To have a copy of the ledger that you have validated yourself, rather than having to trust a third party to be honest about the state of the ledger.
- To protect one’s Bitcoin investment by supporting the network.
- To have a local copy of the blockchain for faster querying. Businesses that are parsing the blockchain for specific data will find it is orders of magnitude faster to do so on a local copy than by querying services over the Internet.
- To attain the strongest privacy available. Full nodes don’t query third parties like centralized and SPV wallets.
Still, it’s difficult to convince many people to run a Bitcoin full node without a direct monetary incentive. That’s why Casa is doing more to make running a node easy and appealing.
Lightning Bitcoin nodes
Many nodes today—both built and bought—include Lightning implementations that allow them to send, receive, and route payments along the Lightning Network. While a Bitcoin node validates every transaction, Lightning nodes only validate transactions in which they’re directly involved. Lightning nodes can also serve as watchtowers, opening the door for watchtower services that profit from preventing foul play on the Lightning Network. Lightning Bitcoin nodes’ extra usability vs. Bitcoin nodes makes running a node much more justifiable for the average person.
Casa is the only company that provides an additional monetary incentive for running a healthy node. When Casa Node users connect their node to Sats App, they’re able to earn bitcoin! Users of Sats App with Node Heartbeats can get 10,000 SatsBack per week for getting 5 heartbeats sent. This serves as a direct incentive to maintain a high node uptime and strengthen the network.
Design and UX
Other common complaints we hear among would-be node operators are clunky UX and poor design. There are guides for building your own Bitcoin full node, but this process requires solid technical expertise, and strong design isn’t a focal point of DIY setups. Casa Node 1 took this issue head-on with streamlined designs that make using a Bitcoin Lightning node incredibly simple. Casa Node 2 boasts a new and improved interface that takes easy and efficient node operation to new heights.
Bitcoin loses much of its original purpose if the network ever becomes too centralized, so the importance of full nodes will remain as long as Bitcoin itself does. In the near future, we’ll continue to see hardware developments drive better node performance. In the longer term, we should see additional incentives for running nodes that come in the form of both monetary incentives and third-party integrations that increase usability. As a massive leap towards the latter, Casa Node 2 will integrate with BTCPay Server to allow customers’ Casa Nodes to act as eCommerce gateways.
Get a node now!
Casa Node 2 is now available for pre-order as a part of all paid Casa memberships.