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Since full nodes must store the entire blockchain, and it seems to currently be 9 gb in size, it seems that sooner or later, it will be too large to handle ( if 9gb isn't already absurdly large ). Is there no provision to ever restart the chain? Certainly it can't just keep growing for all time?

It seems to me that sooner or later, a second genesis block will have to be created and unspent transactions will need to be converted from the first generation, then new transactions to the first genesis rejected, before finally discarding the first chain once all unspent transactions have been converted.

  • For perspective, hard disks currently cost about USD 0.05 per GB. At current bitcoin prices, the cost of storing the blockchain is about 10 standard transaction fees. So compared to other expenses of using bitcoin, this is negligible. – Nate Eldredge Jun 29 '13 at 13:22
  • Instead of discussing that it is not necessary, it would be nice to have a plan in the case it is necessary. Not because of storage per se, but also because of buggy transactions and the eternal need for backwards compatibility. – mahler Nov 24 '13 at 11:32
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That's probably not gonna happen. The only way restarting the block chain without losing the distribution of coins would be by hard coding all the unspent outputs from the moment of the reset in all Bitcoin clients.

If you say

Certainly it can't just keep growing for all time?

Why can't it? If the block chain grows at a slower pace that the price of storage, which can be predicted by Moore's law, why would it matter? Also, Bitcoin will probably evolve to a situation where not every user will have to keep in sync, but will use a service wallet or another payment network backed by Bitcoin so that it doesn't need the data.

Also, old blocks can be compressed when you don't use them, so the blockchain size can be reduced a little if it becomes really big.

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    As I mentioned in my question, miners could convert unspent transactions to the new chain during a transition period so they would not all have to be hard coded in the clients. I also see no reason to believe that the rate of growth will stay less than the rate of growth in compute and storage ability, and even if it does, it seems very wasteful to continue to carry a huge and useless history forever. At some point that waste has to exceed the effort required to start a new chain. – psusi Jun 28 '13 at 1:47

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