At times, the world of cryptocurrency is as exciting as it can be confusing. As a longstanding, trusted ecosystem of crypto products and services, our mission at CEX.IO is to simplify and help you better understand this intriguing landscape.
We’re particularly proud that we’re able to help the crypto community take the driver’s seat, while we serve as informed navigators. After all, every great explorer, be it a historical figure like Magellan, or a motion picture character like Indiana Jones, always has a reliable guide.
Besides helping our users safely navigate the ever-changing crypto seas, we especially enjoy breaking down complex technical terminology. One such term that may appear confusing to the crypto curious is “blockchain explorer.” So, we wanted to address this phrase, and its applications, in this University educational piece.
Join us below to learn more about what blockchain explorers are, how they work, and how you can potentially use them to your advantage. Let the adventure begin!
What is a blockchain explorer?
As always, we’ll give you the opportunity to learn the official, technical definition, and then help you understand what a blockchain explorer actually does.
Technically speaking, a blockchain explorer is “a piece of software that uses a blockchain node and API to draw various data from a blockchain. It then uses a database to arrange the searched data, presenting it to the user/requester in a searchable format.”
Okay, sure. But what does that mean…really?
You can think of a blockchain explorer as the Google of cryptocurrencies. Essentially, it is an online blockchain browser that can display the details of every transaction that has ever occurred on a blockchain network.
For instance, there are blockchain explorers for Bitcoin, but also for individual altcoins. In the case of a Bitcoin explorer, you can only find information from the Bitcoin network. An example would be learning when someone is sending BTC to another wallet.
However, note that, generally speaking, you cannot use a single explorer to retrieve information about ETH and BTC. In this case, you would need an Ethererum block explorer, and a Bitcoin block explorer, respectively. This is because every blockchain explorer contains information about one particular blockchain.
Regardless, there are sites that host explorers for multiple blockchains, such as blockchain.com, blockstream.info, etherscan.io, and others.
Why use a blockchain explorer?
A better understanding of blockchain is the primary and most widespread reason for using explorers. However, they can also come with numerous additional benefits for users, such as:
- Help in determining/verifying any issues that may have occurred during the verification process.
- Proving to the public that two parties are engaged in processing transactions.
- Enabling a user to check and verify their wallet balance at any time, and at their leisure.
- Help check the legitimacy of the wallet address, while transferring crypto assets.
- Simplify grasping the inner workings of the blockchain. Simultaneously, these explorers facilitate interpreting the data stored on it, as well as how the blockchain operates in general.
- Most importantly, these tools provide accountability and transparency on the blockchain. This is because they enable public access to all the transaction data. Consequently, blockchain explorers ensure the blockchain remains secure and transparent, since anyone can view and verify.
Additional potential applications of blockchain explorers
These tools can be a powerful ally when it comes to undertaking other actions. Here are a few more examples of how these explorers can work to your advantage:
- You can use these tools to navigate through the details of orphaned blocks and orphaned transactions.
- They can also help identify the largest transactions that occurred in a day, and highlight stale blocks with verified parent sources.
- These explorers can assist you in searching for the change address. and the transaction receiving address.
- You can view the hash rate, blockchain difficulty, and transaction fees.
- Navigate the entire transaction history of a specific wallet address (enter the wallet address in the search field, and you can see all relevant transactions).
How to choose the right blockchain explorer
Note that your specific needs, and the blockchain network you’re interested in, will dictate your explorer of choice. When selecting the appropriate tool, here are some factors to consider:
- Security. Ensure that your transactions and data are safe by choosing an explorer that uses encryption and secure protocols.
- Reputation. The blockchain community is usually the best indicator of an explorer’s reputation. To get a better idea of their quality and reliability, check for feedback from other users, and read reviews of each explorer you’d like to try.
- Data accuracy. Up-to-date and accurate information about the blockchain network are the alpha and omega of blockchain explorers. Therefore, check to see if the explorer has accurate data and is updated regularly.
- Functionality. Features and functions are another vital aspect of a reliable and effective blockchain explorer. Look for the ability to explore individual transactions and blocks, view network statistics, check balances, and search for transactions.
- User interface. Aside from being easy on the eyes and visually appealing, the user interface should also have straightforward navigation. Additionally, the information should be displayed concisely and clearly.
- Network compatibility. It is critical to ensure that your chosen explorer is compatible with the blockchain network you’re interested in exploring. As mentioned above, different explorers are (usually) specialized in different blockchain networks, and are designed to work only with their specific protocols.
Examples of reliable and popular blockchain explorers
We briefly touched on how a user should question and verify before engaging. However, since our goal has always been to provide all relevant information for you in one place, here is a snapshot of some community tried-and-tested blockchain explorers.
*NOTE: For the purpose of the examples below, we used a random wallet address sourced on Etherscan.io.
- DeBank. This blockchain explorer provides analytics and data for various DeFi platforms and protocols, and is specialized in the DeFi ecosystem.
Image source: DeBank.com
- Bitquery. This tool provides real-time data on multiple blockchain networks, among others, Binance Smart Chain, Ethererum, and Bitcoin. It offers a range of tools for exploring various blockchain networks.
Image source: Bitquery.com
- Blockchair. Besides supporting multiple blockchain networks (LTC, ETH, and BTC), this explorer also features data visualization and network analysis tools.
Image source: Blockchair.com
- Blockchain.com. Mentioned above, this reputable blockchain explorer focuses on the Bitcoin Network. In addition to blockchain exploration tools, this explorer offers numerous possibilities for exploring addresses, blocks, and transactions.
Image source: Blockchain.com
- Etherscan. This is another widely used blockchain explorer we also mentioned above, and one that focuses on the ETH network. You can view various vital pieces of information on addresses, blocks, and transactions, but also, analysis tools and network statistics.
Image source: Etherescan.io
For information purposes only. Not investment or financial advice. Seek professional advice. Digital assets involve risk. Do your own research.
Disclaimer: For information purposes only. Not investment or financial advice. Seek professional advice. Digital assets involve risk. Do your own research.