As discussed in this question there is a news report today saying that researchers have found illicit files and information stored in the blockchain.

In today's Bitcoin world, who needs the full block chain? With mining pools and online wallets looking like the norm (is this true?), do many people at all download the entire chain, or at least large portions of it? I'm sure that researchers will download it in full, but what are the other use cases? Does it extend at all to any casual users?

  • I really have not much of a clue of how exactly the technology works behind the scenes, but at the point where you (the user) don't decide yourself which parts to download (which you would have individually checked as legal before, of course), there is always the possibility that you could get illegal content by chance, even if you don't download the entire chain. Of course, if some mechanism could be derived to prevent such kind of misuse in the future, it would be enough to once find all such illegal content and always specifically exclude it from downloads.But I'm unsure if this is solvable
    – SK19
    Mar 20, 2018 at 20:59

2 Answers 2


Running a full node (downloading the blockchain) allows a user to interact with the network, without having to trust any other network participant.

For some users, this may not be important, but for many users it is very important. For example:

  • You are a business, and you need to ensure that txs you send and receive are in fact being communicated across the entire network.
  • You run an exchange, and want to make sure large deposits are not going to be double spent or orphaned
  • You hold a large amount of cryptocurrency, and want to maintain security and privacy of your funds
  • You live somewhere with heavy financial/economic restrictions, so access to webwallets, etc is banned outright. So to interact with the network you have to run your own node.
  • You are a believer in the philosophies behind cryptocurrency, and want to run a node just to help the network grow and remain robust.

This is not an exhaustive list, I'm sure there are more reasons than I have listed. In general it is important that users remain capable of running their own nodes, as otherwise they will have to trust someone else to do so for them.

  • You're answering why someone may want to run a fully validating node, but that doesn't imply storing a copy of the blockchain. Mar 21, 2018 at 1:28
  • @PieterWuille fair point, but even a pruned node must download the blockchain and then prune, correct? I interpreted the question as being "why full node? versus SPV / webwallet /etc."
    – chytrik
    Mar 21, 2018 at 3:58
  • Given that the question worries about "a copy of the blockchain" and illegal data in it, I'm not sure. A non-validating client may also download the whole chain (for privacy), and a validating one does not need to store it. Mar 21, 2018 at 16:58

Solo miners and pool operators need a copy of the entire blockchain in order to verify new transactions against the transaction history.

  • That's incorrect. You don't need a copy of the full blockchain in order to fully validate new transactions/blocks. Look up pruning mode. Mar 21, 2018 at 1:27

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