Nodes are an essential part of blockchain technology, as these computing devices are the only gateway to a blockchain-based infrastructure. Ethereum is no exception. Generally speaking, it is a distributed network of nodes designed to validate blocks of data.

That said, in order to run an ETH node, one should have the required software application installed on their computer, known as the client. So, how do both of these mechanisms contribute to the blockchain?

What is an Ethereum (ETH) node?

Simply put, it is a geographically distributed element of infrastructure intended to ensure no false inclusions are added to the blockchain, while the information presented to the user is valid and verified. Every single device maintains its own copy of the network and provides the most recent up-to-date information regarding the state of the blockchain.

In addition, a user should be familiar with the fact that nodes are different in ways they consume data. Each type of infrastructure is required to perform its own function to boost the overall utility and functionality of the network, which contributes to what responsibility this or that node is assigned with. In the case of Ethereum, these are full, light, and archive mechanisms. Let’s take a quick look at some of the key points of difference between their functions.

Ethereum (ETH) node types

Full nodes

Full nodes are required to store full blockchain data but are not responsible for providing all state data since the genesis block. These devices participate in block validation and verification. In addition, an advantage of running a full node is that it can deploy any smart contracts into the open-source blockchain.

Among some of the disadvantages of full nodes are extreme time consumption (they handle massive heaps of data, which can negatively affect the computer’s hardware and bandwidth parameters) and major reliance on constant online maintenance in order to achieve full synchronization.

Light nodes

Not unlike the previous type, light nodes also contain information regarding the state of the blockchain. However, they are required to store the so-called block headers (basic blockchain data, e.g. summary info, timestamps, hash rates, etc.). Despite the fact that light nodes do not participate in the block verification process (consensus), they can access the Ethereum network in the same manner as full nodes; besides, they are usually deployed remotely via lower-capacity devices, including smartphones.

Archive nodes

Last but not least, archive nodes are designed to retain all blockchain data since its inception in order to gain the ability to build an archive of historical states, resulting in terabytes of data. This type of data access is typically more appealing to services like blockchain explorers.

N.B. Check out GetBlock’s very own blockchain explorer here

How to run an Ethereum (ETH) node

There are two main options for running an ETH node: you can either deploy your own self-hosted node with the help of an Ethereum client, or you can run a node hosted by a provider. Let’s first take a look at option number one.

What is an Ethereum (ETH) client?

While deploying a self-hosted computing device can be a rather tedious process, there are plenty of web3 developers who have gained enough experience in the procedure in order to avoid the majority of challenges.

As the ETH team states, any computer owner can run an Ethereum node, and as a result, participate in the network consensus. Building a self-hosted node is most commonly done via a client - an “implementation of the Ethereum blockchain”, which works to validate information and guarantee security.

As there are two main types of clients - execution and consensus - it is important to highlight that client diversity is the ideal end goal for most web3 developers. Ethereum clients undergo regular upgrades, which work to increase scalability, as well as reduce security risks and sustainability issues.

Types of Ethereum (ETH) clients

Execution clients

Execution clients are built on the execution layer of the ETH network. Their main goal is to maintain the proper functioning of the blockchain and perform transactions.
Currently, among the most popular execution clients are:

  • Geth
    Language: Go
    Suitable for Linux, Windows, macOs
  • Nethermind
    Language: C#, .NET
    Suitable for Linux, Windows, macOs
  • Besu
    Language: Java
    Suitable for Linux, Windows, macOs
  • Erigon
    Language: Go
    Suitable for Linux, Windows, macOs
  • Akula
    Language: Rust
    Suitable for Linux

Consensus clients

Clients running on the consensus level act as the backend infrastructure. They are designed specifically for hosting and verifying validators. Consensus clients will switch to a Proof-of-Stake consensus as soon as The Merge takes place.

Some of the most widely used consensus clients are:

  • Lighthouse
    Language: Rust
    Suitable Linux, Windows, macOs
  • Lodestar
    Language: TypeScript
    Suitable Linux, Windows, macOs
  • Nimbus
    Language: Nim
    Suitable Linux, Windows, macOs
  • Prysm
    Language: Go
    Suitable Linux, Windows, macOs
  • Teku
    Language: Java
    Suitable Linux, Windows, macOs

Running nodes with an Ethereum (ETH) nodes provider

As mentioned above, running a self-hosted node can be quite challenging. According to some experts, it could take weeks to sync millions of computing devices. Besides, the maintenance of nodes can be rather costly - from purchasing expensive computer hardware to paying large electricity bills.

Deploying nodes with the help of a provider is praised by many developers, as it not only helps save time and money but also makes it possible for beginners in web3 developers to launch their own decentralized applications on the Ethereum network, thanks to the absence of the programming skills requirement.
N.B. Check out this unbiased comparison of running self- and provider-hosted nodes

Deploy Ethereum (ETH) nodes with GetBlock

GetBlock is a pioneer blockchain-as-a-service provider for over 40 leading networks, including Ethereum. In fact, ETH nodes hosted by GetBlock have remained among the most popular services on the platform due to the overwhelming popularity of the second-biggest cryptocurrency.

GetBLockMain

GetBlock provides secure and robust near-instant access to ETH nodes. On top of top-quality services, GetBlock offers 24/7 online technical support for its customers.

  • GetBlock clients often resort to dedicated nodes for Ethereum. This option includes geographically distributed node infrastructure tailored according to each client’s personal requirements. With ETH dedicated nodes, customers are able to boost the performance of their dApps on the network.

  • Shared nodes for Ethereum are oriented towards beginners in web3 development and business startups. GetBlock’s ETH shared nodes give access to peer-shared node infrastructure. This way, users can start experimenting with their dApps before going mainnet.

  • Node clusters for Ethereum help web3 professionals reach top levels of scalability. Node clusters, provided by GetBlock, host sets of ETH computing devices, which lets them handle much larger workloads simultaneously.

FAQ

Is it profitable to run an Ethereum (ETH) node?

Generally, running an Ethereum node is less profitable than staking or mining ETH; however, it comes with its own intangible benefits, such as increased decentralization and security, improved privacy, minimized reliance on intermediaries, etc.

How many Ethereum (ETH) nodes are there?

At the time of writing, there are roughly 9,5K running nodes on Ethereum. Please, refer to Etherscan to find out the latest up-to-date tracker information.

Ethereum_nodes_recent_statistics_Etherscan

How big is an Ethereum full node?

An Ethereum full node is typically 800-100 Gb in data size. However, node sizes tend to change periodically according to the network’s requirements.

Where can I buy Ethereum (ETH) nodes?

Ethereum nodes can be purchased via blockchain nodes provider, such as GetBlock.

How long does Ethereum take to sync?

Depending on the type of client you are using, it generally takes 15 mins to sync 500Mb of data.

Final thoughts

Ethereum remains a robust blockchain with a large number of daily use cases. With the help of community members, the ETH network seeks to provide the most reliable and up-to-date services, including blockchain nodes and clients. As these two terms cannot be used interchangeably, it is crucial to do your own research before making purchases or resorting to any online services.