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Why would you run an Ethereum node locally when there’s so many tools meaning you don’t need to?

From what I can tell, no one is setting up a node locally for mining (takes a specialised mining setup now). You can use Metamask to create/manage accounts. If you’re a dapp developer, you can use Genache to simulate a blockchain for testing and infura when you’re ready to deploy to the test net/main net.

Is it to set up a private network? Something else I’m missing?

Thanks Madeline

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To add lungj's answer; using Ethereum clients one of easiest and secure way to create production level application when you want to create/manage thousands of addresses programmatically on your server.

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I have and run my own nodes for funsies. It's also useful sometimes for running random queries against the chain. I can run some code directly in the console and not worry about hammering someone's server. There's definitely a privacy aspect, too. If you had, say, 1000 ether, and split it into 100 accounts to hide the amount of ether you had but then looked up your balances using a 3rd party service, someone could link your accounts together and figure out that you're the owner of all of them.

And I don't have to have trust in the other servers. I can git clone a copy of geth or parity and keep them around for a while; if there are no security alerts (e.g., GitHub being hacked, a CA issuing certificates to bad actors, or a malicious version of a client has been posted), then I can feel more safe in compiling and running the code. I can't say the same about a third-party site that I have to redownload each time I access it.

Also, I'm old and stubborn, so I like to make things hard for myself. Or, more precisely, I started using Ethereum pre-Metamask and the like and I don't have time to keep up with things, so I just keep using what I'm used to until it doesn't work.

If you're using a different chain, then you may have to run your own node (as you mention, a private chain is one of those situations). If you're using a chain like Ethereum Classic, solo-mining looks quite feasible (it looks like a four-GPU setup could find you an average of two or three blocks per month). If you're willing to deal with the variance, you could even run a small-ish farm and find a block on the main chain about once a month. There is a mining efficiency benefit if you run a node properly (latency, fees, and more). Plus, it keeps the network healthier by spreading out the hashing power.

... and somebody has to do it.

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