What is the difference between Archive, Full, and Light nodes?

Hey all, working on a research project and thought I’d come to the experts to get a good answer. Cheers!

Hey Jake!

Archive Nodes: Archive nodes are the most comprehensive type of node. They store the entire transaction history and state of the blockchain network from its genesis block up to the present. This means they retain a complete record of all transactions, smart contract code, and data ever recorded on the blockchain. Archive nodes require substantial storage space to hold this extensive data, which can grow significantly over time. These nodes are crucial for activities like deep historical analysis, auditing, and retrieving past transaction details.

Full Nodes: Full nodes maintain a complete copy of the blockchain’s current state, including the latest and previous blocks. However, unlike archive nodes, they do not store the entire history of the blockchain. While they have less storage requirements compared to archive nodes, full nodes still consume a substantial amount of disk space. Full nodes can validate and relay transactions, participate in the network’s consensus protocol, and interact with smart contracts. They are considered more secure and reliable than light nodes but require more resources to operate.

Light Nodes: Light nodes, also known as lightweight or SPV (Simplified Payment Verification) nodes, are designed for reduced resource consumption. They only store a subset of the blockchain’s data, typically consisting of block headers, transaction headers, and other metadata. Light nodes rely on other full or archive nodes in the network to retrieve specific transaction data when needed. This approach allows light nodes to operate with lower storage requirements and reduced network bandwidth. However, light nodes sacrifice some level of security and decentralization since they rely on other nodes for data verification.

I hope this helps, and let us know if you have additional questions!