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Trying to get a better picture of the role of permanodes. Are they required for snapshots?

Conceptually, would it be possible to discard all data (history) before a snapshot? Would the Tangle still be functioning properly with regard to confirming new transactions?

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No.

Any synced full node can verify a new snapshot, since any new snapshot is previous snapshot + transactions since then. You don't need to keep any history before the last snapshot.

Most nodes aren't permanodes, and they actively do discard all data every time a new snapshot is made.

So every snapshot is a complete state of the tangle at a point in time, full nodes keep the data after that snapshot. You can then use the previous snapshot + the new data to create/verify a newer snapshot, discarding the previous one and all data since then.

You can view directly how it is done here.

  • This answer clarifies the infrastructure and scaling capabilities very much for me. Thank you! – Dolebas Feb 18 '18 at 14:52
  • Glad you found it of use, if I may direct you to something like this, helps a lot in maintaining and improving the stackoverflow sites for all users. Don't hesitate to ask if anything is still unclear or if you've thought of anything else in relation with the question! – Xilis Feb 18 '18 at 15:29
  • This was my first post on stackexchange so extra thanks for being so kind. If anything else comes to mind, I will not hesitate to ask. – Dolebas Feb 18 '18 at 20:12
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You may find answers to your question here: Full node vs permanode

Otherwise you may want to specify what aspects are still unclear or may be missing.

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