Why Run A Stellar Node?


Great question. If you're here, you likely already have a pretty good idea of why you or your company is considering building out a blockchain network,  In this article, we'll list out some of the benefits of the Stellar nodes to do so. 

Benefits of running a node

You get to run your own Horizon instance:

  • Allows for customizations (triggers, etc) of the business logic or APIs
  • Full control of which data to retain (historical or online)
  • A trusted entry point to the network
    • Trusted end to end (can implement additional counter measures to secure services)
    • Open Horizon increases customer trust by allowing to query at the source (ie: larger token issuers have an official endpoint that can be queried)
  • Control of SLA


Level of participation to the network

As a node operator you can participate to the network in multiple ways.

  watcher archiver basic validator full validator
description non-validator all of watcher + publish to archive all of watcher + active participation in consensus (submit proposals for the transaction set to include in the next ledger) basic validator + publish to archive
submits transactions yes yes yes yes
supports horizon yes yes yes yes
participates in consensus no no yes yes
helps other nodes to catch up and join the network no yes no yes
Increase the resiliency of the network No Medium Low High

From an operational point of view “watchers” and “basic validators” are about the same (they both compute an up to date version of the ledger). “Archivers” or “Full validators” publish into a history archive which has an additional cost.


Watcher nodes

Watcher nodes are configured to watch the activity from the network

Use cases:

  • Ephemeral instances, where having other nodes depend on those nodes is not desired
  • Potentially reduced administration cost (no or reduced SLA)
  • Real time network monitoring (which validators are present, etc)
  • Generate network meta-data for other systems (Horizon)

Archiver nodes

The purpose of Archiver nodes is to record the activity of the network in long term storage (AWS, Azure, etc).

History Archives contain snapshots of the ledger, all transactions and their results.

Use cases:

  • Everything that a watcher node can do
  • Need for a low-cost compliance story
  • Participate in the network’s resiliency
  • Analysis of historical data

Basic validators

Nodes configured to actively vote on the network.

Use cases:

  • Everything that a watcher node can do
  • Increase the network reliability
  • Enables deeper integrations by clients and business partners
  • Official endorsement of specific ledgers in real-time (via signatures)
  • Quorum Set aligned with business priorities
  • Additional checks/invariants enabled
    • Validator can halt and/or signal that for example (in the case of an issuer) that it does not agree to something.

Full validators

Nodes fully participating in the network.

Full validators are the true measure of how decentralized and redundant the network is as they are the only type of validators that perform all functions on the network.

Use cases:

  • All other use cases
  • Some full validators required to be v-blocking (~ N full validators, M other validators on the network -> require at least M+1 threshold)
  • Branding - strongest association with the network
  • Mutually beneficial - best way to support the network’s health and resilience


Resources: operational requirements, install and set up


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