A block explorer is one of the most important tools in a cryptocurrency and blockchain user’s toolkit. In a similar way to web browsers, blockchain or block explorers allow users to navigate blockchains.
Block explorers, sometimes referred to as the “Google of crypto and blockchain” in the crypto community, let users extract important information about crypto transactions.
A block explorer is a web application that provides data from a specific blockchain online via a web browser.
The block explorers of each blockchain are different
There are a lot of block explorers out there, as each cryptocurrency and blockchain has its own. Ether (ETH) transactions cannot be tracked with a Bitcoin block explorer.
There is also a wide variety of block explorers available for popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ether. Some of the most popular Bitcoin explorers include Blockchain.com, Blockchair, BlockCypher, and Tokenview. Ethereum explorers such as Etherscan and Ethplorer are also available.
You can find a block explorer for a certain cryptocurrency by searching for “block explorer” and the desired crypto on Google, or by checking CoinMarketCap or CoinGecko’s “explorers” section.
Depending on the type of blockchain used, there are private and public blockchain explorers. The ledger on public or permissionless blockchains like Bitcoin or Ethereum can be read and written by anyone. The ledger of a private or permissioned blockchain, however, can be read and written only by selected entities.
What can you do with a block explorer?
With block explorer, you can track recently mined blocks, transaction history, network capacity, and find the genesis block, or the first block on a particular blockchain.
Let’s look at a couple of simple examples of how a block explorer can be used to illustrate how it works.
Track your cryptocurrency’s origin using a block explorer
Block explorers have unlocked a lot of exciting opportunities, including transaction history. A public blockchain allows users to track virtually any Bitcoin wallet, unlike traditional payment services that allow users to track only their own transactions.
Copy and paste your Bitcoin address into a search bar on a block explorer like Blockchain.com to investigate your address. On the next page, you will be able to see all the information associated with your Bitcoin address, including the number of incoming and outgoing transactions, total BTC received and sent, and your final balance in dollars.
When you scroll down, you will see a log of all transactions associated with your BTC address, including a transaction ID or hash, amount, and the sender and recipient. You can learn more about an address where your crypto originated by clicking on the sender’s address.
Track the status of your transaction
It is possible to check the status of pending and completed transactions using a block explorer, which indicates how many confirmations the network has received. The confirmation indicates that the transaction has been processed by the network and is unlikely to be reversed.
Check your transaction status by typing the transaction ID in the search field and seeing how many transactions there are.
Depending on the cryptocurrency, a transaction may require a different number of confirmations. A BTC transaction on major U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase requires a minimum of three confirmations, while an ETH transaction requires at least 35 confirmations.
By checking the “unconfirmed transactions” section on Blockchain.com’s explorer, or the “pending transactions” section on Etherscan, you can also see the number of unconfirmed transactions on any blockchain.
Here is a breakdown of Bitcoin’s current circulation
In addition to providing information about transactions and addresses, block explorers also provide information about a specific blockchain’s status. In addition, block explorers include some useful charts related to network difficulty, mempool size, average block size, and total cryptocurrency.
The “Total Circulating Bitcoin” chart on Blockchain.com shows how much Bitcoin is currently in circulation. Approximately 88% of the 21 million Bitcoin that will ever be mined are in circulation at the time of this writing, which is 18.556 million.
Track average transaction fees on your crypto
Due to increased network congestion, BTC and ETH network fees may become expensive. When Bitcoin hit an all-time high of $20,000 in 2017, transaction fees spiked to as much as $50. It is possible for your transaction to be returned to the sender if the transaction fee is too low.
Use major block explorers to check crypto fee charts to avoid such situations. The average Bitcoin transaction fees are available at Blockchain.com’s “Fees Per Transaction” section.