The recent fork for Ethereum was just completed successfully, but everything has not gone as smoothly with the community as anticipated. The community has more awareness of the nodes that are on the Ethereum blockchain, and they (as The Hard Fork writes) “immediately freaked out.”
BlockCypher, a blockchain infrastructure provider, posted an article that went over the events leading up to the Constantinople upgrade, from their perspective. The report also included information following the hard fork implementation. Their activity included a reboot of an archive node that would record al the settings that Ethereum has gone through since it was created.
Archive nodes provide a snapshot of what Ethereum has done, including everything from the processing of the transaction to a map of the blockchain at the time each of those transactions were posted. Unlike archive nodes, full nodes only involve transactions, rather than the “state” of the blockchain.
Based on information uncovered in the blog from BlockCypher, the reboot of these kinds of nodes is complicated, and no one is even running them. The provider says that the lack of running of these nodes puts the blockchain at risk. When corresponding with Ethereum’s co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, he said that BlockCypher was one of the few entities that chose to run the “big, scary nodes.”
When asking if there was anyone to synchronize with Buterin could not provide any resource, believing that no one else is running them.
At that point, the assumption was made that BlockCypher could be the only provider that has a complete history of the transactions at Ethereum. However, based on the information from Ethereum insiders that The Hard Fork spoke with, the issues do not actually represent the network properly, considering that the archive nodes do not have anything to do with the security of Ethereum’s blockchain.
The whole ecosystem of Ethereum relies on Infura, which is a blockchain infrastructure firm that is supported by ConsenSys. Through deploying apps on the Ethereum network, Infura works on behalf of their participants to run resource-intensive processes.
The co-founder of Infura, E.G. Galano, said that there are only a few circumstances that would render the archive nodes necessary. Specifically, they can see the state of any Ethereum account at any block height, but there is no actual need to store them otherwise. Galano said that, at best, they are “case dependent.”
Realistically, the full nodes hold the information that is critical to the blockchain, both “maintaining and synchronizing” everything on the ledger, as Martin Holst Swende of the Ethereum Foundation told The Hard Fork.
There are three kinds of Ethereum nodes that he spoke on – fast-sync, full-sync, and archive, which hold everything that someone would need to replay the events of the blockchain, rather than this responsibility falling on the archive nodes alone.
Still, the question stands – who is actually running the archive nodes, if anyone? The Hard Fork spoke with Parity Technologies to determine how necessary and active the archive nodes are. The tech chief Fredrik Harryson does not believe that there is just one node with everything, considering that the company themselves usually has one running.
It seems that BlockCypher has been alone in assuming that they are the only one, because multiple companies stated that they run the archive node, including the Ethereum Foundation. However, when it comes to security, full nodes are where the attention should be.