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    What is a block explorer, and how do you use one?

    What is a block explorer, and how do you use one?

    What is a block explorer, and how do you use one?
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    By CNBCTV18.com  IST (Published)

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    You can think of a blockchain as a public ledger. However, this ledger would contain all the transactions ever processed on the blockchain. Therefore, finding one particular entry would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. The easier way to examine transaction data would be to use a block explorer. Read on to know more

    You can think of a blockchain as a public ledger. Every time a transaction occurs, its details are verified by users (nodes) and added to this public ledger. Once this data has been added, it cannot be modified or deleted. Since it is a public ledger, the data is visible to all.
    You can simply download the ledger on your computer and peruse through the transactions whenever you like. However, this ledger would contain all the transactions ever processed on the blockchain. Therefore, finding one particular entry would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. The easier way to examine transaction data would be to use a block explorer.
    What is a blockchain explorer?
    A blockchain explorer is the Google of blockchains. It works like a search engine and retrieves historical as well as real-time data stored on the blockchain. Each block explorer only serves one blockchain and cannot be used to access data from multiple blockchains. However, some websites do host multi-chain explorers.
    For instance, you can use Etherscan to examine Ethereum’s transaction data. Similarly, there is Solscan for Solana, Blockchain.com for Bitcoin and Polkascan for Polkadot. However, Polkascan is now touting itself as a multi-chain block explorer.
    Block explorers can look for transaction details such as wallet addresses of the sender and receiver, time of transacting, amount transferred, etc. Some explorers even dig out real-time market data, pending transactions on the blockchains, mining pools, network hash rate (processing power), etc.
    Why would you need a blockchain explorer?
    Block explorers present significant benefits to businesses, miners, and traders. If you are a crypto transactor, a block explorer can help you check the status of your transactions. It can also provide you with your transaction history and the value of assets held. Such data points, when combined, act like a bank statement of sorts for your crypto assets.
    Miners can leverage this tool to verify whether they have successfully mined a block since their rewards depend on it. Businesses can use it to verify project-based transactions and ensure there are no irregularities or hurdles. Individuals looking to gain knowledge about a cryptocurrency can use a blockchain explorer to examine ‘crypto whale’ activity and other insightful data.
    For enthusiasts, block explorers offer a window into the technical aspects of a blockchain. Metrics like hash rate, block difficulty, gas fees, daily transaction volumes, and even block height can be checked with the help of this tool. You can also sift through transaction data for alleged frauds and heist too. The only data that’s not fully visible is that of privacy coins like Monero and Zcash whose sender and receiver data is usually obfuscated.
    How do you use a blockchain explorer?
    As mentioned earlier, block explorers are like search engines. Therefore, using them is just as simple. Just visit the block explorer’s website, type in your query in the search bar and hit enter.
    The most common queries include wallet address, transaction hash key, and block number. The landing page of most explorers is a dashboard that also displays real-time data of transactors and ‘mempools.’ Unconfirmed transactions on the blockchain are stored in mempools. The size of the mempool indicates how long you may have to wait before your transaction goes through.
    If you wish to fetch details regarding a specific transaction, you need to feed your transaction hash into the search bar. The explorer will even let you know whether your transaction has been confirmed or not. Another way to verify is to look for your wallet address and check whether the respective crypto asset has been extracted from it. You must remember to type your wallet’s public key and not the private one. The private key is for transaction initiation and your eyes only.
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