The number of Bitcoin nodes is at an all-time high, with 11,558 reachable nodes currently active, according to Bitnodes.io. Another Bitcoin network statistics tracker, coin.dance, calculates the total number of Bitcoin nodes at 11,613, which is just above the previous high of 11,250 set one year ago this month.
The Bitcoin Core software update 0.21.0 was released for public download on Jan. 14 2021 and is currently the fourth most utilized version of the software among nodes
There are currently 619 nodes running this version of the software, which represents about 5.5% of all nodes running some version of Bitcoin Core. Almost 5,000 nodes are still running the second-most current release of Bitcoin Core, 0.20.1, which remains the most popular.
The latest version of Bitcoin Core also introduces a way to create more predictable testnets and implements Taproot consensus rules without activating them on the main net.
The changes will ultimately serve to increase privacy in Bitcoin transactions as Taproot assures that outputs no longer reveal spending conditions which are needlessly exposed in previous implementations. Removing differentiating features from transactions will also help Bitcoin to become a more fungible asset, closer in line with Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto’s original proposal for “digital cash.”
Up to 25% of all available Bitcoin nodes run on hidden network Tor, which makes Bitcoin Core 0.21.0’s compatibility upgrade for Tor version 3's hidden services essential as version 2's hidden services will become deprecated later this year. Running a Bitcoin client using Tor adds a layer of privacy by obfuscating the IP address of a connecting node.
According to Satoshi, a robust amount of independently-operated nodes is considered essential to the success of Bitcoin, as its fundamental value relies upon its ability to remain decentralized. Running a node is also a more secure way to self-store Bitcoin, and a practice being adopted by a number of holders who are increasingly wary of custodial services.
Previously known as Bitcoin QT, Bitcoin Core is a software client developed by Wladimir J. van der Laan which is based on reference code written by Satoshi. It is the most popular implementation of the Bitcoin protocol by far, with 98.5% of all nodes running a version of Bitcoin Core software.
The rise in Bitcoin nodes is correlated with an increase in the number of Lightning Network nodes and channels, which are also witnessing all-time highs.