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What is Block Confirmation on Ethereum?

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  • Last Updated : 08 Jul, 2022
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Block confirmation is a process in Ethereum that takes some time and causes a lengthy delay before the mined block can be added to the blockchain.

What is Block Confirmation?

  • Block confirmation is a process that is inherent to Ethereum, and it causes a delay before the mined block can be added to the blockchain. 
  • The Ethereum network uses confirmations in order to allow for transactions to have multiple stages and for people who send transactions to wait for several confirmations before considering the transactions fully processed and final. 
  • Thus, there are several stages of block confirmations on Ethereum and each stage offers more security than the prior stages. 

Block Confirmation Requirements of Ethereum

  • The distributed software architecture of blockchain allows developers to build “smart contracts,” which execute themselves automatically when certain conditions are met. While its potential to create decentralized applications has been widely showcased in articles across the web, it also creates an opportunity for malicious actors to take advantage of these smart contracts as well. 
  • To protect users from such attacks, Ethereum introduced block confirmations as a requirement for all transactions on the network.
  • Ethereum’s use of block confirmation is important because it allows for transactions and smart contracts to have multiple stages, rather than just being immediately final. 
  • The fact that Ethereum uses block confirmation enables a lot of the usability that Ethereum plans to offer, such as greater user control over the state of their wallets, better security, and more flexibility.

How Does Block Confirmation Work?

  • The process of block confirmation works in two steps. First, miners confirm transactions with the use of a consensus algorithm like proof-of-work or proof-of-stake. 
  • Then, the transaction gets checked by a group of validating nodes. Once this occurs, the transaction is considered to be in the ‘Unconfirmed Transaction Pool’. This pool has two main states – ‘Pending’ and ‘Cancelled’. 
  • When a minimum number of miners have completed their confirmations for the transaction, this state changes to ‘Confirmed’. Until that point, it could change back to either of these other two states, based on what happens with the network and whether or not there is an issue with the transactions.
  • The process is similar for smart contracts as well. There are several stages that each require multiple confirmations from miners before being considered confirmed. However, the amount of time that smart contract transactions are confirmed depends on the complexity of the transaction.

How Long Do Ethereum Confirmations Take?

  • In general, it takes about 10 minutes to have a transaction become part of the blockchain. 
  • This is because it has to be propagated across all nodes in the network and applied to the permanent state of the blockchain using a mechanism called “Proof-of-Work” (PoW)
  • PoW is used to ensure that no one can maliciously modify or delete data without detection, plus it provides a deterrent to attackers by adding a difficulty level, or hashing power, to override an attempt at falsification.
  • There are numerous fees associated with sending Ethereum transactions, including network fees in addition to transaction fees. These transactions could also be delayed due to an increase in “gas” required for sending the message itself.

How to Check Which Stage of Confirmation is Transaction in?

  • The most common way to check which stage of block confirmation your transaction is in is by opening Etherscan and going to ‘Transactions’ > ‘Show Unconfirmed Transactions’. 
  • Then you can click on the transactions that have a grey label next to them, which will show you their difficulty and block number. From there you can see if they are pending or confirmed. This can also be done with other Ethereum services that display similar information.

Conclusion

Block confirmation is an interesting and important concept in Ethereum. While it may seem to be a security flaw at first, this is not the case. In reality, the extra confirmations are necessary for the many decentralized applications that will be built on top of Ethereum and for it to be a practical currency for day-to-day transactions.

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