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Light Node Meaning

Oct 13, 2023 | Updated Oct 13, 2023
A light node is a blockchain component that stores limited or lightweight information rather than a complete copy of the network. Light nodes simply act as communication endpoints.

What is a Light Node?

A node is any device or computer connected to a blockchain network, responsible for transmitting information about transactions and blocks within the network. Nodes regularly update each other with the latest information added to the network. Some nodes contain a complete copy of the protocol, while others contain only limited information. The ones storing limited information, information regarding previous blocks, are known as light nodes.

A light node (lightweight node) is a crucial component of a blockchain network that stores only the block headers. A block header is typically a detailed summary of a particular block, or the information used to identify a specific block on a blockchain. Light nodes require significantly less resources, such as storage and download capacities, to function. Thus, they can operate on devices, like smartphones, with limited memory and space. 

Light Node Vs Full Node

A full node, also known as a fully validating node, is a blockchain component responsible for storing and validating transactions. Every full node within a network contains a complete copy of the network. That is, they download a duplicate or reduced copy of the blockchain that contains all its histories, including blocks, timestamps, and transactions. They are also responsible for enforcing consensus rules and transmitting information to other full nodes.

Light nodes, on the other hand, are lightweight versions of the full nodes. They are typically smaller in size and contain only partial information about the network. In addition, they cannot function independently and rely on full nodes to relay information about the blockchain.

Functions of Light Nodes

Light nodes are simply pieces of software connected to full nodes to further validate information stored on the blockchain. They utilize full nodes as intermediaries to access the network and information like account balance. Instead of storing a copy of the entire blockchain, they store only a block header. The block header held is enough to verify and query the validity of previous transactions.

In other words, they validate transactions just like full nodes, but using simplified payment verification (SPV). SPV clients query other nodes for new transactions and blocks without downloading the entire blockchain.

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