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My understanding is that the archival node stores the state tree for each block -- that's the reason the size is so big. Can someone validate my understanding?

  • the state is unique for the entire blockchain, only modifications are stored on each block, but never the state is rewritten again with each block. (just to make it clear) – Nulik Feb 13 '18 at 22:05
  • yes there is no doubt that state is unique. but my understanding is , every block in archival node has a corresponding state trie which captures that state of blockchain at that point of time. – Manish Ranjan Feb 14 '18 at 1:27
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Yes, you're correct. An Ethereum archival node is a geth full node. A full node will download/maintain block header + block data + perform full data validation. This process takes a more time and storage.

For more details, see the answer to this question: What is the parity light pruning mode?

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The state is so big because it stores contract data. Contract data is like a binary executable .exe in Windows, it contains instructions to be executed and this takes much bigger space than a signed transaction or an account record. Also, contracts are immutable , once you uploaded it , you can't modify it, so a new version of the executable must be fully uploaded if you have to apply some changes. This is the reason Ethereum's state is so big. It is like a hard disk where files are created but never deleted. In the future this is going to get worse.

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