Friday, June 2, 2023

Bitcoin Q&A: Initial Blockchain Download

Why is the initial blockchain download and why does it take so long? What performance factors are required? How does a node index the Bitcoin blockchain and synchronise with the network?

0:00 Why does it take so long to download the blockchain?
2:36 Takes more than just bandwidth. It also takes CPU and a big amount of disk indexing
3:43 Recommended minimum configuration

This question is from the September monthly Patreon session, which took place on September 29th 2018. If you want early-access to talks and a chance to participate in the monthly live Q&As with Andreas, become a patron:

How do I choose a wallet? –
Secure, tiered storage system –
Hardware wallets and attack surface –
Setting up secure storage devices –
What is a private key? –
How do mneomonic seeds work? –
Using paper wallets –
Wallet design and mass adoption –
Cryptographic primitives –
Public keys vs. addresses –
Re-using addresses –
Passphrases and seed storage –
Coin selection and privacy –
Multi-signature and distributed storage –
Nonces, mining, and quantum computing –
Is quantum computing a threat? –
Spam transactions and Child Pays For Parent –
Orphaned blocks and stuck transactions –
Denominations and voluntary burning –
What are “bitcoin days destroyed”? –
Miners, pools, and consensus –
Software distribution security –
Protocol development security –
Geopolitics and state-sponsored attacks –
How to get people to care about security –
Honest nodes and consensus –
Why running a node is important –

Andreas M. Antonopoulos is a technologist and serial entrepreneur who has become one of the most well-known and respected figures in bitcoin.

Follow on Twitter: @aantonop

He is the author of two books: “Mastering Bitcoin,” published by O’Reilly Media and considered the best technical guide to bitcoin; “The Internet of Money,” a book about why bitcoin matters.

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Translations of MASTERING BITCOIN:



Translations of THE INTERNET OF MONEY:
Spanish, ‘Internet del Dinero’ (v1) –
French, ‘L’internet de l’argent’ (v1) –
Russian, ‘Интернет денег’ (v1) –
Vietnamese, ‘Internet Của Tiền Tệ’ (v1) –


Music: “Unbounded” by Orfan (
Outro Graphics: Phneep (
Outro Art: Rock Barcellos (
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  • seems authoritative, however, someone needs to explain WHY I MUST verify the blocks. Let's just assume my goal is peek at the data and not actually the authoritative version. Better yet… why isn't there a simple downloader that just does only and exactly that.

  • Thanks for clearing that up. My Apollo BTC has a raspberry pi 4 in it, and I’m on my third day of downloading the full blockchain node. I’m on 98%, so guess that means just a few more hours left to go.😁👍

  • Can I just download a blockchain to a remote amazon server like ec2? Is that safe.

  • QUESTION: If you have little tech skill, i.e. don't use command prompt to solve issues, how do you set up a Bitcoin Node? I have the hardware (a computer with plenty of disk space) and downloaded the Bitcoin block chain but could not get the node to work, I think the problem was getting my home machine to be a static ip. At least I think that was the issue. I am pretty sure it had to do with my internet connection not talking back to the block chain. I spent a lot of time on the Bitcoin Core website looking at posts and I am pretty sure it is the internet ip that is the problem. I could not find any solution simple enough for my tech neophyte brain to handle.
    I know that nodes are critical to the infrastructure of Bitcoin and other crypto and if you want to be more than a sideline investor and you are a true believer, which I am, you want to help and be a part of the infrastructure. The problem is it seems there is no "black box" solution I can buy on Amazon that will set up a node and solve any connection issues. I am surprised this has not been built. If it has please tell us about it. If not please help. 🙂

  • Don't they pull out the voting rules and hard code the softfork results?

  • Strange.. i always thought that the speed limit for the initial download is the upload capabilities of 8 public nodes that provide the whole data package to mine node..

  • Invest in FGC Fantasy Gold A real use case in fantasy and esports.

  • Forget Bitcoin, get some FGC (Fantasy Gold), real use and way better project!

  • good and useful videos don't miss

  • Crypto markets should trade against stablecoins not btc/eth. It makes a lot more sense. By the way, my favorite crypto is FGC. It's one of a very few cryptos with a real world use.

  • The bandwidth your peers are sending blocks can be a bottleneck too. Another nitpick – it is the latency (in msec) of a hard drive or SSD that matter, not bandwidth (in MB/sec) as such.

  • How does a node know to emulate soft forks in the protocol for specific blocks? Is that hard coded into the node implementation? Isn't the definition of a soft fork that it is backwards compatible so why does this have to happen? I assume that the blocks are not marked with a software version because there is no one version of bitcoin software as it is a protocol.

  • so… why being a node matters ?

  • That's where some forks have their own enhancements. Bitcore has a blockchain size ~950 mb, and a blocksize 10MB/20MB SegWit

  • C K

    Are bootstrapped appliance-like machines safe? Isn't that route skipping a lot of what was just mentioned? I'm surprised there's a market for them

  • Lookup how to write a config file for your node. you can crank up the ram to 8gb+ if you have it available. I wish I knew that the first time. Really speeds it up.

  • I got into ETH back in early 2017 and had no problem DL'ing/syncing blockchain – I then foolishly thought I had to have my chain sync'd to make a transaction and thought I was SoL (pressed for time) because it wouldn't DL/Sync up.

    Make sure you have a decent hard drive, don't want that shit bricking on you//unable to keep up with rest of chain. Solid state(s) is/are a great choice, much cheaper now days too than when I first built this PoS, lmao….
    Cheers Andreas.

  • R

    always a pleasure learning from you @aantonop! thanks

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