According to Bitnodes.io, the number of Bitcoin nodes is at an all-time high, with 11,558 reachable nodes still operating. The overall number of Bitcoin nodes at 11,613 is estimated by another Bitcoin network statistics tracker, coin.dance, and is only above the previous record of 11,250 set one year ago this month.
On January 14, 2021, the Bitcoin Core software update 0.21.0 was released for public download and is currently the fourth most used version of the software by nodes.
This version of the program currently runs 619 nodes, which indicates about 5.5 percent of all nodes running a version of Bitcoin Core. The second-most recent version of Bitcoin Core, 0.20.1, which remains the most common, still runs nearly 5,000 nodes.
The new version of Bitcoin Core also provides a way to build more predictable testnets, without enabling them on the main net, and implements Taproot consensus rules.
Ultimately, the modifications would serve to increase privacy in Bitcoin transactions as Taproot guarantees that outputs no longer expose spending conditions that have been unnecessarily revealed in previous implementations. The elimination of distinguishing marks from transactions would also help Bitcoin become a more fungible asset, closer to the initial “digital cash” concept of Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto.
Up to 25 percent of all available Bitcoin nodes run on Tor hidden network, which makes the compatibility upgrade of Bitcoin Core 0.21.0 for Tor version 3 hidden services essential as the hidden services of version 2 will become outdated later this year. By obfuscating the IP address of a connecting node, running a Bitcoin client using Tor adds a layer of privacy.
According to Satoshi, as its fundamental value depends on its ability to remain decentralized, a robust number of independently-operated nodes is considered essential to the success of Bitcoin.Running a node is also a safer way for Bitcoin to self-store, and a practice being adopted by a number of investors who are increasingly cautious about custodial services.