Blockchain Size: Things You Should Know

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Do you want to know about blockchain size? If you do, then you have come to the right place.

Blockchain is known to revolutionize the world around us. After all, it changes how we define the process, store data, and explore the security of a network that the application runs on. It brings immutability, transparency, and unparalleled security that no other technology has been able to do so until now.

But there is one big problem — blockchain size.

To understanding the problem, let’s first learn how the blockchain works.

In any blockchain network, there is no centralized authority. Peers participate in bringing decentralization to the network. Each peer has a copy of the ledger(where all transactions are stored). This means that if any new transaction takes place, the ledger on each node will be updated accordingly. The unique solution lets businesses to create decentralized networks capable of solving problems not possible before.

Blockchain Size: Blockchain Ledger Size, A Big Problem

However, blockchain is not free from problems. Initially, the blockchain size was not as big, as only a small amount of peers are connected to the network. For example, bitcoin blockchain size was 614 MB in size in 2012. But now, the bitcoin blockchain size gb has grown tremendously to the 250K MB. That’s approximately 250 GB of data that each peer/node carries with them. This leads us to a bitcoin blockchain size problem.

Blockchain Size

Source: Blockchain.com

Other blockchain networks also suffer from the same problem. Blockchain size of Ethereum has already crossed 1 TB blockchain size. (Source)

Is there any Blockchain Size Limit?

In the last two years, bitcoin blockchain ledger size has grown from 150 GB to 250 GB. That’s almost 50 GB per year. By 2030, we can see the blockchain ledger size cross more than 1 TB easily. However, not every node needs to download the whole blockchain to become functional. Some participants take part in the blockchain network to make transactions and not to validate one.

Some nodes are called full nodes. The full nodes are required for those who are willing to participate in the validation of the ongoing transaction. This means that they have to download the whole 250 GB of blockchain data containing the block headers and transactions.

The problem of blockchain size of Ethereum was more intense than that of bitcoin. Alistair Milne, a bitcoin investor, raised alarms on how the Ethereum ledger size is growing compared to bitcoin. According to the picture posted by him, Ethereum is growing at 3x that of bitcoins.

But, that might not be completely true as Ethereum also offers ways to work with the ledger. It offers a concept called pruning, which allows nodes to work without the need to download whole blockchain data.

You can read the post by Afri Schoedeon; The Ethereum-blockchain size will not exceed 1TB anytime soon. But, it did cross 1TB, and you can find an interesting post on it that discusses the whole scenario in detail.

Does blockchain size matter?

Yes, blockchain size matters. Blockchain is relatively a new technology, and it will only grow in the upcoming years. Bitcoin being a first-generation blockchain solution, is not free from problems. It has both scalability and size problems. 

With an ever-increasing size of the blockchain, scalability also becomes a problem. It has been one of the significant issues for bitcoin. To solve the problem temporarily, they did a SegWit2x hard fork, which worked towards improving the block size (at the granular level) — improving the scalability and performance issues associated with bitcoin.

The ledger size is going to increase rapidly with estimates of it each 6.5 TB by Jan 2023. It will bring in the need to buy more hard disk space to participate in the network.

However, according to Moore’s law, hard disk storage prices will decrease with time, and you will be able to buy cheaper storage. The main problem arises when the blockchain size growth overcomes the rate at which the storage becomes cheaper. It will make it hard for the enthusiast to bring in their skills or contributions to the network. Contributors need to spend $1000’s of dollars to get their nodes running, which may not be worth it. 

How can big blockchain size become in the future?

We live in a world that thrives on transactions. Every day, there are non-cash payments in billions. Right now, we witness 522 billion transactions per year approximately. The growth of transactions is in quadratic fashion. However, with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, Ethereum, NEO, etc., we see a change in how transactions are carried out through non-traditional channels.

Right now, bitcoin doesn’t have to account for a lot of transactions compared to Visa or other forms of transactions. But, if we take a hypothesis where bitcoin is used for every transaction out there, it can take up to 2.4 terabytes for each block. Also, not to mention, blockchain is capable of generating one block every 10 minutes. In short, every 10 minutes, 2.4 terabytes of data will be added to the blockchain size. In one day, 350 GB is added in one day and 127 TB every year. Subhan Nadeem does all these calculations on his HackerNoon post. This also means that there is no ledger limit. 

The issue limit brings new problems. These numbers are real concerns. Also, the fact that the block size will increase exponentially, it will take more time for miners to solve a block resulting in slower transactions. 

On the contrary, our only hope is cheap hardware in the near future. Terabytes of storage won’t be an issue, and also processing power can grow exponentially, making transaction validation much easier.

Blockchain Startups

So, does the problem impact startups that are building their application on top of Ethereum and bitcoin? Well, it depends on how the two blockchain technologies evolve with time. Right now, startups shouldn’t worry about the size.

Ethereum blockchain already offers the process of pruning, which results in using fewer blockchain data compared to what is needed by a full node. Bitcoin, however, doesn’t support pruning yet. If someone prunes the bitcoin, they will lose the full node status.

Conclusion

Blockchain size is not the top problem that needs to be resolved. In fact, it is the scalability and transaction speed that is the main focus now. So, what do you think about blockchain ledger size, including bitcoin and Ethereum? Do you think the teams working on these technologies should focus more on optimizing the data stored by these ledger technologies? Comment below and let us know. We are listening.


About Author

Nitish holds a BSc in computer engineering. He is a blockchain enthusiast and in spare time likes to read about the moon. His articles have published on Dzone, InfoWorld, and Hongkiat.

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