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What is a Node in a Cryptocurrency Network?
A node is, in essence, any computer connected to the blockchain network and using the P2P protocol. Nodes use this protocol to communicate with each other distributing information about transactions and blocks across the network. Strictly speaking, nodes are the key component of the blockchain network.
Nodes may be lightweight and full
A full node is any computer that is fully synced with the blockchain network. Each full node has a copy of all blockchain data — starting from the genesis block and ending with the last generated block — on its hard drive. After each new block is created, information is updated, i. e. it’s always up-to-date.
A light node is also fully synced with the network, but it does not store all the information from the blockchain on its hard drive — it only services the network. Most nodes in the network are lightweight; however, full nodes form the backbone of the network.
What are nodes for?
All nodes support network operations: they automatically validate transactions and generate new blocks while protecting the network from fraudulent activities. In many networks, node owners (miners) are rewarded with new coins that are generated with new blocks.