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Every time I turn on the Bitcoin client it takes days to catch up with the block chain.

Are there alternatives to getting it trickling through the peer-to-peer network? Can I just download it somewhere? Wouldn't this be ideal for distribution via BitTorrent?

If so, how do I import it into the Bitcoin client?

My client would still be validating this data (can it?), and it is all signed and proof-of-worked, so there is no real security problem here, is there?

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Apparently this does not speed up the time it takes to import and validate the block chain much, because the cryptographic calculations are the bottle neck, not the network I/O. But still, downloading everything first and validating later reduces the time you need a working network connection. Validation can be done offline, too. –  Thilo Nov 27 '11 at 23:16
    
Good question! I was going to ask "How long is it supposed to take to download all blocks from the transaction history?". Short answer is: the times it takes to download a 1.4GB file, plus a bit more to get the latest blocks from peers. –  rds Feb 18 '12 at 15:49
    
@rds Now over 21GB... –  Basic Dec 16 at 23:14

6 Answers 6

up vote 23 down vote accepted

You can download the blockchain nightlies handled by tcatm (one of the Bitcoin core developers and operator of bitcoincharts.com). Unpack and copy&replace blkindex.dat, blk0001.dat files into C:\Users\"username"\AppData\Roaming\Bitcoin for Windows 7, and run bitcoind with -rescan option. Than it will take only couple minutes to download up to latest block. Be aware that manually copied blocks won't get verified.

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The -rescan option doesn't verify blocks. It only checks for transactions that affect your wallet. It shouldn't take very long, not more than 10 minutes or so. (And you must do this if you use the nightlies. Otherwise you won't show or be able to spend any Bitcoins you received in blocks you didn't download from the Bitcoin network.) –  David Schwartz Sep 9 '11 at 8:34
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Are those .dat files portable? Or only work on Windows 7? –  Thilo Sep 9 '11 at 8:58
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it should be interchangeable, bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=26044.0 –  Serith Sep 9 '11 at 9:10
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The only issue would be if you compiled the client yourself and used a different version of BerkeleyDB. Otherwise, it should work on all platforms. –  David Schwartz Sep 9 '11 at 9:11
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This is to report a rotten link :( –  bytebuster Feb 24 '13 at 9:53

This was an issue with versions of the client prior to 0.3.24 -- once the vast majority of the network switches over, the block chain downloads should proceed as fast as your CPU and network connection can handle.

There are places you can download the block chain, but the client doesn't provide a way to accept the block chain in any form other than from the network. If you're starting from nothing, it will generally take about 10 hours to process the whole block chain. Most of it isn't transfer time, it's CPU time validating all the hashes and signatures.

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+1 If it really takes 10 hours to validate the chain when reading from a local file, then I guess I have to give up on the idea... Is there a way to know which versions everyone is on? –  Thilo Sep 9 '11 at 7:58
    
Watch your CPU usage while you sync up. Unfortunately, the client can't really take advantage of multiple cores as it catches up. The right ultimate solution is for most people not to run the client but to instead run a lighter piece of software that only does what they actually need. –  David Schwartz Sep 9 '11 at 8:02
    
@Thilo You could "divide" it. So 10 days, 1 hour each. –  Pacerier Jun 17 '12 at 18:32
    
A lot of people want to use Armory as their bitcoin client, which really makes the idea of using a light bitcoin client impossible, unfortunately. I submitted a request to etotheipi to add in an option to Armory to load the blockchain from a server, and he said it's something he might do in the future, but it's pretty low on his list of priorities. –  Evan Lynch Jun 3 at 6:15

A good start of downloading block chain is here http://sourceforge.net/projects/bitcoin/files/Bitcoin/blockchain/

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This is the correct answer. "Bitcoin-Qt/bitcoind version 0.7.1 and later supports a special import feature: If the file "bootstrap.dat" is found in the bitcoin data directory, it will validate and import all blockchain data found in that file." The torrents are in the link indicated by Codler. –  Stephan Tual Mar 24 '13 at 2:54

"Bitcoin-Qt/bitcoind version 0.7.1 and later supports a special import feature: If the file "bootstrap.dat" is found in the bitcoin data directory, it will validate and import all blockchain data found in that file."

The official torrent can be found at: http://sourceforge.net/projects/bitcoin/files/Bitcoin/blockchain/

Magnetic link: magnet:?xt=urn:btih:6fe493ba606847eac163baf35aae9db319735482&dn=bootstrap.dat&tr=udp://tracker.openbittorrent.com:80&tr=udp://tracker.publicbt.com:80&tr=udp://tracker.ccc.de:80&tr=udp://tracker.istole.it:80

Thread: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=145386.0

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This is the correct answer. –  Felipe Micaroni Lalli Mar 22 at 7:35

http://bitcoin.network has an up-to-date bootstrap.dat file that can be downloaded directly from their cdn but it's not free.

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