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Are there any studies into the size of the blockchain scaling over time?

Hi folks, I have a theoretical question. Since the blockchain stores all bitcoin transactions, does this mean that it is ever-increasing and will never, ever stop gobbling up disk space?



Yes, the blockchain itself will keep increasing forever. On the other hand, one does not need to store the entire blockchain to use Bitcoin. It is possible that later version of Bitcoin will start pruning old, spent transactions to keep local disc storage smaller.


No. If a car is heading North on a highway that ends in five miles, will it run off the end of the road? Of course not.

A car going North on a highway now will not go North on a highway forever. The driver will turn the steering wheel before it runs off the end.

To get a "yes" answer, you have to assume the car has no driver. But then you're asking a question about an absurd hypothetical where a car speeds down a highway with no driver.

  • Zen answer is best answer.
    – Colin Dean
    Jan 31 '13 at 21:59
  • 2
    And this is the same answer whenever someone talks about something being "unsustainable". Most of the time, they mean you can't go on forever in a straight line when you aren't going in a straight line anyway. Jan 31 '13 at 22:04
  • In your metaphor, what is the blockchain equivalent of 'turning the steering wheel'? Mar 15 '13 at 22:25
  • @shanusmagnus: It's awfully hard to predict the future. One change could be using a distributed storage scheme to store the block chain so that fewer copies are needed. It could mean a pruning/compression scheme. It could mean such a fundamental change to the Bitcoin protocol that prior blocks are no longer needed. Mar 15 '13 at 22:30
  • I think maybe the OP has the same struggle that I do, which is understanding which problems (like the blockchain scaling problem) are already addressed in the current protocol, and which problems can potentially be addressed, but will require protocol modifications, and community action to 'bless' those protocol modifications. It sounds like you're saying this problem is one of the latter type? Mar 15 '13 at 22:37

The short answer is that old, spent transactions can be pruned, meaning the part of the blockchain that has to be stored to run a node doesn't have to grow forever.

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