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According to my understanding, the ledger/blockchain is stored on every computer (node) that partakes in the network. The beauty of this system is that it is decentralised and backed up by every single participant in the network. Furthermore, the security of the blockchain comes from there being so many copies, as long as there are many copies, then it's unfeasible for anyone to try to "hack" it, as too many other people have copies which would be automatically checked against your fake one to reveal the deception. On average a new block is created every 10 minutes. Right now there is a limit of 1 MB per block. So, if the limit isn't changed, then the growth rate is limited at:

  • 1 MB every 10 minutes (on average)
  • 6 MB every hour (on average)
  • Approximately 144 MB per day
  • Just a bit over 1 GB per week
  • A bit less than 4.4 GB per month
  • A bit less than 52.6 GB per year

How is it feasible for someone with capped internet to participate in the blockchain network as it starts to grow over time? For example, the Internet in third world countries is limited, expensive and slow. Are there any solutions out there or research being carried out which resolve the scalability problem which is currently an inherent property of Bitcoin?

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    I don't see why you think there's a problem. The growth rate is constant (assuming the block size doesn't change). And Internet speed is going up while storage costs are coming down. Why would you think it's not sustainable as is? – David Schwartz Oct 9 '17 at 9:25
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    ​Thanks for the response. I think that what you have described best fits a model scenario where all blockchain participants are living in a developed country but it is unsustainable for those who are not. On my trips to Southern Africa, I have found that the cost of data and hard drive storage is very high unlike in Europe - I should have perhaps added this point to the question. – methuselah Oct 9 '17 at 19:04
  • I don't see how that changes anything. If those people can't participate today, how is it a scalability problem? And if they can participate today, why wouldn't you expect their storage costs to continue to come down too? – David Schwartz Oct 9 '17 at 19:06
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    Unless of course we are envisaging the Bitcoin as a digital currency better suited for those in developed countries. If a node is unable to host the full blockchain, I suppose that it will need to depend on another one with the full transaction history. In the long run, won't we see a loss of "financial sovereignty" and "reduced security" in these regions? – methuselah Oct 9 '17 at 19:06
  • Perhaps it isn't best described as a "scalability problem". Wrong use of words. I guess what @amanusk described below would apply in such scenarios. And as he has also declared, the real scalability problem is how many transactions can take place every 10 minutes. – methuselah Oct 9 '17 at 19:11
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SPV clients are thin clients that do not need to hold the full blockchain. They use other nodes on the network to validate transactions. SPV clients are available for Android and require a lot less disk space. Of course it is more secure for you and for the network to run a full node.

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    This is an incorrect use of the term scalability. What you're trying to say is that there is a capacity problem. Scalability is about how the resource costs of a system increase with increased capacity, and in the case of Bitcoin, scalability is terrible because of the points made in OP's question: every participant needing to see everything means that increased capacity comes at a huge cost factor. – Pieter Wuille Oct 9 '17 at 20:26
  • I see. I was not aware this is refereed to as a capacity problem. Removed it as it is not directly related to OP's question. – amanusk Oct 12 '17 at 17:01

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