Best guess/calculation?

I transferred some bitcoins to my new wallet after generating an address. This was this morning, and have had my bitcoin wallet syncing all afternoon (5 hours), so far it has downloaded 1.5GB of data and maxed out my 3G broadband quota for the month :-(

It is also really slow towards the end, sitting at 80% now and ticking over verrrry slow. Is this because the latest blocks contain more transactions (as doesn't every block contain history of all transactions before it?).

Will that mean future new bitcoin users are going to have to deal with a huge download size/ sync quota?

  • The "history of all transactions before it" is just a single number so that has no effect on performance. The issue is likely that newer blocks contain more new transactions. May 28, 2012 at 18:49
  • 3
    The issue is that the most recent checkpoint is on block 168,000. For all blocks past there every signature is checked at block download time which takes a lot of CPU time and really slows the download. If you didn't reach block 168,000 (92%) yet, then you'll find it will slow even more when you do. May 28, 2012 at 20:04

5 Answers 5


My current Bitcoin folder, May 28th 2012, is 2.16 GB. Of which maybe 60MB is data personally to me like my wallet, addresses, logs and transaction history. So basicly you will have to download a little over 2 GB for being in sync with the network.

To answer your second question: I think yes. Bitcoin exists out of a long chain with blocks containing all the transactions that were ever made. So the longer Bitcoin lives and the more it is used, the bigger this block chain will grow and the more data every user will have to download before they can use the Bitcoin client safely.

EDIT: blockchain.info charts the pure blockchain size here: https://blockchain.info/charts/blocks-size

If this growth rate stays the same, bitcoin can get in trouble...

  • thanks guys, very helpful- all of you! (not up to 92% yet!! eek)
    – Nick
    May 29, 2012 at 10:51
  • Check the chart I added. That's the raw blockchain size, of course, there's always indexes and some other redundant information added to it. May 29, 2012 at 23:12
  • @StevenRoose Having to download the entire transaction chain is very time-consuming; that's like me having to download all transaction history of all bank customers before I can deposit or withdraw funds from my bank. I hope Bitcoin addresses this in the future, it's just not practical.
    – SAFX
    Apr 12, 2013 at 20:42
  • @SAFX You are right and I'm sure the bitcoin developers are thinking a way out of this method. For now, you can always use clients like Electrum wallet, which does not require you to download the whole chain. Apr 15, 2013 at 9:43

You Bitcoin wallet doesn't take up too much space, it's the data about the block chain that is taking up all the bandwidth. Bitcoin relies on everyone keeping a copy of the block chain, to prevent any scams.

The standard client uses checkpoints, positions in the block chain, to know which blocks are considered safe and immutable by the developers, meaning they won't be checked as scrumptiously. The newest blocks are validated more thoroughly, to prevent malicious injection of data.

If you have a bandwidth limit, know that Bitcoin should only do this operation once - you're downloading the whole history of operations on Bitcoins after all. After that the downloads will be more managable.

The future Bitcoin clients could be operating as "lite clients", which will download far less data, but currently only alternative clients support that. It will also be possible that there will be clients developed that will use the Overlay Network, meaning they won't have to download basically anything at all, but again, the standard client does not support that.

If you want to operate on Bitcoins without downloading any data, you can try using some eWallets - they are basically websites that offer to host your Bitcoin needs. Some of them charge a small fee, and if they go down you will lose all of your coins, but on the other hand it provides a lot of flexibility and no need for downloads.

All in all, the standard client does require users to go through a bit of pain at the beginning, but after that it is mostly clear sailing. You can always try using an eWallet, but then you are entrusting the safety of your coins to someone else.


I use the http://electrum.org bitcoin client as the block chain is hosted on a server and so you don't need to download it every time you open it. It also has some really cool security functions if you lose your local wallet file.


MultiBit currently requires about 30Mb

However, that is because it is a lightweight client. It only downloads the transaction headers for the blockchain and keeps only the transactions associated with your particular private keys. As such it can ignore the vast amount of transaction data as being irrelevant.


This is going to be date and transaction relative. For example if you setup a wallet today (June 5m 2017) it is about 120GB and most of that is from the last 4 years and moreso in the last several months all due to increasing amounts of transactions. This is both a strength and weakness in the sense that the best way is to have all transactions yet it's not practical for many to have 120GB+ of the transactions stored locally.

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