The number of Bitcoin nodes has reached a new all-time high as the network grows more robust

The number of Bitcoin nodes has reached a new all-time high: 11,558 reachable nodes are currently active, according to Bitnodes.io. Another tracker of Bitcoin network statistics, coin.dance, indicates a total number of nodes of 11,613, slightly higher than the previous high of 11,250 set a year ago.

The Bitcoin Core software update 0.21.0 was made available for download on 14 January 2021, and is currently the fourth most used version among nodes.

There are currently 619 nodes running this version of the Bitcoin Era software: representing about 5.5% of all nodes running any version of Bitcoin Core. Nearly 5,000 nodes are still running the second most recent version of Bitcoin Core, 0.20.1, which remains the most popular.

#Bitcoin node runners, consider upgrading your node to the latest version 0.21 to support Tor v3.

Close bitcoin core, download 0.21 and verify signatures, install new core, runhttps://t.co/f0D3eMXPrt
– StephanLivera@bitcoinhackers.org (@stephanlivera) January 17, 2021

The latest version of Bitcoin Core also introduces a way to create more predictable testnets and implements Taproot consent rules, without enabling them, on the core network.

These changes will serve to increase the privacy of BTC transactions, as Taproot ensures that outputs no longer reveal spending conditions that were unnecessarily exposed in previous implementations. Removing differentiating features from transactions will also help Bitcoin become a more fungible asset, more in line with Satoshi Nakamoto’s original proposal.

Bitcoin Core v0.21.0
[This release implements the proposed Taproot consensus rules (BIP341 and BIP342), without activation on mainnet]#Bitcoin #Taproot https://t.co/S0CjDMJUB4
– Aníbal Santaella (@wombat@bitcoinhackers.org) (@a_santaellas) January 19, 2021

Bitcoin client using Tor adds an extra layer

It is estimated that about 25% of all available Bitcoin nodes run on the Tor hidden network, making it essential to upgrade to Bitcoin Core version 0.21.0 as Tor v3 compatible: v2 hidden services will become obsolete in 2021. Running a Bitcoin client using Tor adds an extra layer of privacy, as the IP address of a connection node is obscured.

According to Satoshi, a robust amount of independently managed nodes is essential to Bitcoin’s success, as its core value is based on its ability to remain decentralised. Node management is also a safer way to own Bitcoin, a practice being adopted by a number of holders who are increasingly wary of custodial services:

„If you are a Bitcoin HODLer managing them independently and running a full node, you are ‚one of the world’s leading blockchain experts‘.“

If you are a Bitcoin HODLer who does self custody and runs a full node, then you are „one of the world’s leading blockchain experts“.
– The Bitcoin Rabbi (@thebitcoinrabbi) January 17, 2021

Formerly known as Bitcoin QT, Bitcoin Core is a client software developed by Wladimir J. van der Laan based on the reference code written by Satoshi. It is by far the most popular implementation of the Bitcoin protocol, with 98.5% of all nodes running some version of this software.

The growth of Bitcoin nodes has also been correlated with an increase in the number of Lightning Network nodes and channels, also at record levels.