Blockchains are ever changing. Keeping up with these changes is challenging. It means anticipating updates, preparing and successfully updating software regularly. This takes a lot of time, effort and expertise.

Therefore, if you are a business owner who relies on blockchain services, it makes sense to outsource this side of your operations.

Blockdaemon can help you. We guarantee undisrupted client service. We manage your nodes so you don’t have to. Including all updates and any changes.

Blockdaemon understands node maintenance better than anyone. We keep the heartbeat of your blockchain ticking. 

In this post, we’ll explore:

  • Why do Blockchains Require so Much Effort?
  • The Importance of Updating Blockchain Nodes.
  • How We Ensure You Get a Consistent Blockchain Service
  • Why do Blockchains Need So Much Effort?

Updating a blockchain is not as simple as updating a traditional software system. 

Under the hood, a blockchain is a decentralized ledger. Each ledger has its own unique rule set. The rules of the project are the DNA of the blockchain. These rules are often set at the beginning, or soon after the founding of the project. 

Blockchains are decentralized. No single entity can affect change without getting consent of the majority. With all this in mind, why do blockchains update, and how important is this? 

Reasons why blockchains need updating include: 

Adding new features  

Many blockchain updates deliver a better product for their customers. New features can improve the use and utility of a platform’s digital assets. 

These changes come from volunteers, software companies, or foundations working on the project. These contributors generally have a vested interest in the project. 

A blockchain community is incentivized to accept good changes. Positive changes improve the value of the blockchain. 

For example, Cardano’s introduction of proof-of-stake was a major blockchain update. This upgrade, code-named Shelley, introduced an entirely new set of ledger rules to allow staking. It introduced brand new features and functionality. These all enhanced the value of Cardano. 

Improving usability 

Blockchains come with tradeoffs. Performance often comes at the expense of decentralization. Scale can slow down transactions.

Given these tradeoffs, developers need to make adjustments. Like any good piece of software, these updates should improve the user experience. 

Ethereum’s London Hardfork (EIP-1559) is an example of a network update in this vein. This hard fork smooths the user experience during times of peak demand.  

Fixing bugs

Fixing bugs is a key part of blockchain updates. Many blockchains contain minor and major bugs. 

While some of these have negligible effect, others are more serious. Major flaws in the code can put millions of dollars at risk. 

Proactive updates to the system aim to prevent problems before they occur. Reactive updates take place after-the-fact, ensuring it can’t happen again. 

An example is Ethereum’s Berlin Hardfork which launched 15th April 2021. This fixed a bug in the code that was known since 2019. After the fix, the Ethereum Foundation outlined the threat in detail. In their own words, this presented ‘a clear and present danger up until the Berlin hardfork’.  

The Importance of Updating Blockchain Nodes

A full node is a computer which hosts a copy of the blockchain ledger. As a ledger updates, so too must the nodes. The nodes can then sync with each other, while having the most up-to-date copy of the blockchain. This is one of the key principles behind blockchains.

Mining and validator nodes in particular have a financial incentive to update. Validators on proof-of-stake networks who do not keep up-to-date risk missing out on rewards.

However, there are occasions when those running a node will not update. This occurs when node operators disagree with the changes. An example of this is the DAO hack which took place on Ethereum. To reverse the $50 million worth of Ether that was stolen, the Ethereum Foundation changed the Ethereum ledger’s history. 

This new ledger is the proof-of-work Ethereum we know today. However, many nodes didn’t update to this change. Many still run Ethereum Classic, the unaltered version of the chain. This reflects the ethos of the community.

How Does Blockdaemon Upgrade Nodes?

As blockchains evolve, Blockdaemon ensures each of our are updated in line with all protocol changes. Only official updates published by the protocol’s network / foundation are actioned. These network upgrade procedures take two approaches: 

1.Routine Protocol Updates

Standard protocol updates are applied to a node within one week of the update release, or sooner based on the requirements of the upgrade. For example, if required completion is mandated by a date or by block, we will make sure the node remains active in the network. 

2.Security / Urgent Protocol Updates

For critical upgrades relating to security, we prioritize these to be applied within one working day, but are usually applied within the same day of release. 

How We Ensure You Get a Consistent Blockchain Service

In order to guarantee a consistent service, Blockchain makes sure all upgrades are planned, trialled and proven before making changes to live customer nodes.

Prior to a change being applied to a customer node, it is tested on Blockdaemon’s side. This ensures:

  • There is no disruption of service for the partner node
  • Basic functionality works as intended

Any node downtime can be understood and planned for 

If updating a node will cause downtime, we inform the client ahead of time and schedule the update around their needs.

 The customer may reschedule this update if our original window does not work for them. Upon request, we can hold updating a customer’s node or inform them before an update is applied.

We carry out our work in the background, meaning our customers never have to worry about a consistent service. They just need to choose an appropriate time, and we do the rest.

If you need help with your blockchain service, reach out to us hello@blockdaemon.com and we’ll be happy to help!