I'd be interested to know if the bitcoin network has ever been down. By "down" I mean that a client would not be able to synchronize with the network to obtain data like the txs in the mempool or recently mined blocks.

My guess would be that this would be extremely rare due to the decentralized architecture, but it'd be great to know for sure. If there have been downtimes, I'd be interested to know how frequent these have been and how long they have persisted.


4 Answers 4


A bitcoin node could be down or (extremely rarely as you say) all its peers could be down... but the bitcoin network could not be considered down; you could still synchronize by connecting to different peers manually using fallback nodes or even have your own list of nodes.

The only way for the bitcoin network to be down is if all the nodes+miners are down which would be nearly impossible even with a few dozens of nodes (current estimate is 6000+ nodes). However, in the very beginning, when there where 1 or 2-3 machines it was possible (see example in @Murch's answer, where that early on, there was only one node on the network: Satoshi's).

  • I arrived here via googling similar to the question's title. I see here a couple of security vulnerabilities [1] listed as reasons for downtime. Is that true; does mining (and if so, transactions) stop when there's a security vulnerability? [1] CVE-2010-5139 and CVE-2013-322
    – stevec
    Jan 3, 2023 at 11:58
  • 1
    When issues like that occur there is instability in the network. It is not really downtime. The network is still functioning but the state has forked... when the fork is resolved we have a single state again for the system. During this instability some transactions could be reversed (some double spends might happen) but nothing more than that.
    – karask
    Jan 3, 2023 at 16:10

Yes. In the very beginning of the Bitcoin project there were long gaps between blocks that suggest that no node was mining/online at all. E.g. between between Block 27 and 28 there was a 8h34 pause.

Block 27: 2009-01-10 06:56:13
Block 28: 2009-01-10 15:30:57

I would guess that in the later years, there was never a time when you wouldn't have been able to get blocks from another node, except if you had been disconnected from the Internet yourself.

The only likely possibility that I see today for nodes to be online but unable to synchronize with the blockchain would be if the internet were to be completely disconnected between continents or nations for a time, also known as netsplits.

Silly thought: Even then, synchronization and confirmations could be achieved with largely increased latency when the blockchain data/transaction submissions would be transported via physical media e.g. pigeons with a USB stick. You shouldn't trust zero-confirmation transactions while being split-off, though. ;)

  • Satoshi Had a power Outage? Feb 24, 2016 at 13:19
  • @Frankenmint I'll ask him, next time we meet.
    – Murch
    Feb 24, 2016 at 13:40
  • when you do...make sure you have him send me that 142 thousand BTC that he owes me from doing some work for him back in 2010.. he can pay me @ this address: 1BitcoinEaterAddressDontSendf59kuE Feb 24, 2016 at 13:48

The closest thing I can think of is the March 2013 fork. While the network wasn't down per se, you couldn't use it reliably until the issue was resolved.


Yes, the Bitcoin Network has been down two times in the past. Once in 2010 for around 9 hours, known as the Value overflow incident where a block contained a transaction that created 184 billion Bitcoins for three different addresses. The network was soft forked to not allow any more than 21 million Bitcoins ever.

And once again in 2013 for 7 hours, known as the March 2013 Chain Fork, where a block that had a larger number of total transaction inputs than previously seen was mined and broadcasted. While Bitcoin 0.8 nodes were able to handle this, some pre-0.8 Bitcoin nodes rejected it, causing an unexpected fork of the blockchain. A new released a version 0.8.1, forked directly from 0.8.0 solved this issue without any harm to the network.

Depending on whether you call these incidences a network outage or not Bitcoin would have an uptime of 99.99% since its creation as of the time of this writing, and 100% uptime since 2013, meaning the Bitcoin network has never been down or unavailable since 2013. These levels are unmatched even by the largest tech companies in the world.

See https://www.buybitcoinworldwide.com/bitcoin-uptime/

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