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Type of Nodes

Before an introduction to the distinct type of nodes, it is important to understand a few concepts: * Genesis block: defined by a chain spec file, which describes the initial status of a chain, including the initial wasm, balances, authority set and so on. * Extrinsics: a piece of information that comes from outside the chain and is included in a block, which will change the state of chain. * Events: a piece of information comes from inside the chain, which may trigger some operation and change the state of chain.

The chain starts from a initial state, and updated by Extrinsics or Events. Assume the current block height is N, a validator will takes the chain state at block N and apply changes on top of it, to construct the block N+1.

Archive node

Archive Nodes keeps all the historical state in storage. So it is convenient to use a archive node to query the state of a certain block height. For example, you can get the balance of Alice at block 20, or get the validator number at block 1024. As a result, running a archive node needs more disk space. Generally, archive nodes are used when you need to know the past states.

Full node

Full nodes keeps states of genesis block and serveral recently blocks in storage. By default, blocks which is older than 256 from the latest finalized block will be discarded. Besides, full node keeps extrinsics for all past blocks, so it can rebuild the chain without additional information. Full nodes need less disk space than archive node and is used when you just want to read the recently state of chain, submit or validate extrinsics.

For running full node or archive node, please refer here.

Light node

Light nodes has only the runtime and current state, does not keep any of the historical state or extrinsics. Light nodes are useful for resource limited devices.

Validator

Validator is a special kind of archive node. Like archive nodes, validators keep all the historical state in storage. More importantly, validators are participants of the chain, which are responsible for validate blocks, voting for finality and so on. Validators will be rewarded for maintaining the chain and slashed for misbehavior.

For running validator node, please refer here.

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