Monday, October 30, 2017

Upgrading and Pruning Your Bitcoin Full Node

What is probabally the most important Bitcoin protocol upgrade since Satoshi mined his first block is coming, and it's currently only two weeks away.  Unfortunately, almost 90% of the nodes on the network are still in their un-upgraded state[1].  When the split comes in mid-November, these nodes will be left behind, and be unable to process transactions until they update.  To ensure that this upgrade goes as smoothly as possible, I'd encourage everyone out there to start running a full node as soon as possible.



  • a computer that is always on (old laptop, whatever)
  • an internet connection that doesn't have overage charges
  • ~10g of free hard drive space, though 200g is ideal
  • a Windows, MacOS, or Linux operating system


Visit and download the latest release.

You probabally want one of these three:

For Windows or OSX, just install it in the usual way.  With the Linux version, you can just untar it in your home directory, and run it directly from there.  The thing you want to run is called bitcoin-qt, which is the graphical frontend of the bitcoin full node.

The first time you run it, it may ask you where you want your data directory.  If you happen to have 200g of space laying around, maybe on another partition, that's great.  If not, click through the space warning anyway, and in the next step I'll show you how to run a bitcoin full node with drastically less hard drive space.


The trick here is called "pruning".  When you have your node set in pruning mode, it only keeps track of the most important data in the blockchain, rather than keeping around a record of every transaction in history.

The "prune" setting in bitcoin.conf is measured in megabytes, so if you say "prune=10000", that means use 10 gigs for storing the blockchain.  If you say "prune=5000", that means your node will use 5 gigs.  Please donate whatever space you can, and remember, you can always make this number bigger or smaller later.  In the following example, I'm going to start with 10 gigs.

To set your pruning setting, go into the menu, and do:

Settings > Options > Open Configuration File > [ OK ]

add the line "prune=10000"

Save the file and quit.  You're also going to want to exit and restart the bitcoin-qt app.  Congratulations!  You are now helping to run the most powerful payment network known to man.