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Author Topic: Is the Bitcoin Block Chain too big?  (Read 6935 times)
jbreher
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November 20, 2013, 08:04:36 PM
 #61

It's not just the storage space , it's the download that might get problematic for a lot of users.

Yet all the pipes get bigger every year. Sure, we should make sure to monitor the situation. But so far, nothing about this seems broken to me.

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November 21, 2013, 12:03:24 AM
 #62

Wayyy too big! Its taking forever!
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November 21, 2013, 12:11:52 AM
 #63

If you ask me it could be too big for the average user in a few years, and the average user is what matters.
The moment it gets too big for "home" users, bitcoin can no longer be considered decentralized.

It depends on several factors of course but I think it needs a solution.
Altcoins could turn out to be a forced solution at some point if it isn't fixed.
 
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November 21, 2013, 12:18:09 AM
 #64

If you ask me it could be too big for the average user in a few years, and the average user is what matters.
The moment it gets too big for "home" users, bitcoin can no longer be considered decentralized.

On a long enough timeline, the average user will probably not run a full node.  That is just the reality.  A full node is an equal peer on a global payment network.  You can't have "global" and low requirements in the same sentence.  Most people don't really think about that aspect but a full node is a full and equal peer (no less or more important than any other peer) on what potentially could be the largest payment network in the history of the human race.   That is always going to have a cost.  Alternative solutions may reduce that cost to some degree but you can't have a massive network with millions of users and billions of transaction and expect the PEERS (as in PEER TO PEER) to have negligible requirements.

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It depends on several factors of course but I think it needs a solution
The good news is Satoshi envisioned a solution before the genesis block was even created.  Most users don't need to be full nodes, Bitcoin protocol supports a type of client called SPV (Simplified Payment Verification).  SPV nodes/clients download in realtime, only the parts of the blockchain that are related to their transactions.  They still validate information received from full nodes (the use of merkle trees and blockheaders allows SPV nodes to ensure the information they receive is accurate).  More importantly they keep their private keys secret, and sign their own transactions so they provide a higher level of security than eWallets.  The resource requirements are negligible compared to a full node.   So it comes down to a choice.  Do I want to be a user on the network at negligible cost or do I want to BE a part of the network as a full node with the costs that will require?  Many (probably most) users will opt for the former but Bitcoin doesn't need every user to be a full node, it only needs a critical mass.  IMHO there will always be that critical mass.  Enthusiasts, users with large amounts of Bitcoins, merchants, service providers, developers, and just "hardcore" believers will provide enough nodes for that critical mass.

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Altcoins could turn out to be a forced solution at some point if it isn't fixed.
Altcoins are not a solution.  They only have lower requirements because they have less users, less transaction volume, and less history.  If they ever reached Bitcoin scales the some requirements would apply.
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November 21, 2013, 12:26:54 AM
 #65

If you ask me it could be too big for the average user in a few years, and the average user is what matters.
The moment it gets too big for "home" users, bitcoin can no longer be considered decentralized.

It depends on several factors of course but I think it needs a solution
 

On a long enough timeline, the average user will probably not run a full node.  That is just the reality.  A full node is an equal peer on a global payment network.  You can't have "global" and low requirements in the same sentence.  Most people don't really think about that aspect but a full node is a full and equal peer (no less or more important than any other peer) on what potentially could be the largest payment network in the history of the human race.   That is always going to have a cost.  Alternative solutions may reduce that cost to some degree but you can't have a massive network with millions of users and billions of transaction and expect the PEERS (as in PEER TO PEER) to have negligible requirements.

The good news is most users don't need to be full nodes, Bitcoin supports a type of client called SPV (Simplified Payment Verification).  Satoshi envisioned this outcome a year before the genesis block was ever created. SPV nodes only download in realtime the parts of the blockchain that are related to their transactions. They still validate information received from full nodes, keep their private keys secret, and sign their own transactions.  The resource requirements are negligible compared to a full node.   So it comes down to a choice.  Do I want to be a user on the network at negligible cost or do I want to BE a part of the network as a full node with the costs that will require.


I get that, but as full nodes disappear and big data stores is the only full nodes left, the model bitcoin uses is no longer the best one imo.
At that point an old-style server-client model would do a better job. And with that goes privacy, ability and need to manage you own account.

It could be that having several altcoins would solve this better. The question is how to easily transfer assets between them
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November 21, 2013, 12:29:00 AM
 #66

At some point Bitcoin-Qt will change such that it's able to delete old blocks. The details are still being worked out, but most likely you'll be able to say "Use up to 10 GB of disk space"

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November 21, 2013, 12:31:09 AM
 #67

At some point Bitcoin-Qt will change such that it's able to delete old blocks. The details are still being worked out, but most likely you'll be able to say "Use up to 10 GB of disk space"

That would be neat
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November 21, 2013, 12:34:38 AM
 #68

I get that, but as full nodes disappear and big data stores is the only full nodes left, the model bitcoin uses is no longer the best one imo.

Black and white thinking.  The world is full of shades of gray.  When the requirements become high enough that is has a real cost many users will not run full nodes but many still will.  It doesn't have to be everyone is a full node or the network is reduced to a half dozen nodes.  The reality is inbetween those extremes.

Quote
At that point an old-style server-client model would do a better job. And with that goes privacy etc.

Well no.  SPV clients have methods of protecting privacy called bloom filters.

Quote
It could be that having several altcoins would solve this better. The question is how to easily transfer assets between them

Having several altcoins wouldn't reduce the load.   If there are x tx on Bitcoin network and Bitcoin is replaced by a number of smaller altcoins, to have the same tx volume would mean the requirements to run all of them is the same.  To exchange coins between chains or mine all the chains would require the same amount of resources.  If you feel that amount of resources will reduce the network to a handful of nodes then the same thing would happen.   If all the mining and exchanging is done by a handful of nodes then you are in the same scenario.

The reality is that won't happen.  Higher resource requirements, and many users opting for the cheaper SPV option doesn't mean nobody will run full nodes.  IMHO there will always be that critical mass.  Enthusiasts, users with large amounts of Bitcoins, merchants, service providers, developers, and just "hardcore" believers will provide enough nodes for that critical mass of full nodes.

In other words right now the estimate on the number of full nodes in the Bitcoin network is probably on the order of tens of thousands of nodes.  Lets say 50,000 full nodes and lets imagine the number of users is 500,000.  That means 1 in 10 users is running a full node.  That ratio will drop if we jump to 1M users we probably won't see a mangnitude increase in number of full nodes, it might still be ~50,000.  The ratio of users to full nodes is now 100:1 but we still have 50,000 full nodes in 200 or so countries to provide decentralization.   Jump further in the future 10M users, 100M users, etc the ratio between users and full nodes is almost guaranteed to drop but that doesn't mean the number of full nodes will drop from 50,000 to 50.
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November 21, 2013, 03:53:00 AM
 #69

It's easy to run a full node now. In the future, the "hardcore" believers might dedicate a hard drive and an internet connected computer just to run a full node.

You can regularly find torrents of 50+ gigabytes of complete seasons of old TV shows with at least a few thousand seeders, for comparison purposes.

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November 21, 2013, 07:55:48 PM
 #70

It's easy to run a full node now. In the future, the "hardcore" believers might dedicate a hard drive and an internet connected computer just to run a full node.

You can regularly find torrents of 50+ gigabytes of complete seasons of old TV shows with at least a few thousand seeders, for comparison purposes.
This is correct. If I was an early adopter (or at least gotten a bit earlier than I did), I would have already set up a full node. The costs are pretty slim in comparison to what bitcoin has earned us (me in this case).

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November 21, 2013, 09:25:23 PM
 #71

You can regularly find torrents of 50+ gigabytes of complete seasons of old TV shows with at least a few thousand seeders, for comparison purposes.

Torrents don't require to verify a lot of signatures.
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