You can run three different types of node - Validator Node, RPC Node, and Archival Node.
Validator nodes are the operators of the NEAR blockchain and are essential to the health of the network. Validator nodes participate in the consensus and produce blocks and/or chunks. You can see a real-time view of NEAR network validator nodes on the NEAR Explorer.
RPC nodes are RPC service providers that provide public RPC endpoints for developers to use. The NEAR Foundation currently maintains a public RPC endpoint
http://rpc.mainnet.near.org/ that is free for everyone to use. However, any participants are encouraged to run their own RPC node and offer RPC services through an Open Source & Public Goods grant from the NEAR Foundation. For more information, please check out Community section in the documentation and reach out in the Validator Channels on Discord and on Telegram.
Archival nodes store full blockchain data, and build an archive of historical states. These nodes are useful for block explorers, chain analysis, and infrastructure providers.
See API Setup section for archival RPC nodes endpoints.
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