As the Bitcoin community grows, so will the different opinions of individual users. Gavin Andresen is often regarded as one of the most reliable people in Bitcoin. However, he recently tweeted something that upsets a lot of people. In his opinion, running a full node is a waste of bandwidth. That is a very odd sentiment, considering full nodes are always in high demand on the Bitcoin network.
A Full Bitcoin Node is Useful
Whenever statements like this one are issued, the Bitcoin community is up in arms. Running a network node is critical to support Bitcoin. It is not a necessity by any means, though. With several thousands of nodes in existence already, the network is secure. Not all of these nodes are full nodes, though, as running them requires a lot of bandwidth. In some cases, full nodes can easily sue up over 200GB of bandwidth in a month.
I’m proud to be part of the 99+% not running a full node. Zero reason for me to waste bandwidth monitoring other people’s transactions.
— Gavin Andresen (@gavinandresen) May 18, 2017
It appears Gavin Andresen refers to how running an SPV node can do the exact same thing. To be more specific, an SPV node can also validate incoming transactions. Unconfirmed transactions will not be more or less secure regardless of which node one runs. Then again, SPV nodes rely on miners to validate other transactions. A Full node, on the other hand, takes care of all this on its own. It is all a matter of which solution one prefers.
Moreover, full nodes are capable of detecting double spend transactions. SPV nodes will not do so, as they rely on external information. More specifically, one has to rely on the “goodwill” of merchants and exchanges. While this is usually not a concern, blind trust is a very precious commodity in the Bitcoin world. Saying how running a full node is a “waste of bandwidth” will certainly rub a lot of people the wrong way.
In the end, there is always a need for additional nodes. It is understandable not everybody can or will run one, though. Full nodes are always in high demand, although there is no shortage of them either. It is certainly not a waste of bandwidth to run one, assuming you can spare the bandwidth in the first place. It is an interesting discussion regardless. However, the motivation for this train of thought may leave something to be desired.