Have you ever sent Bitcoin to someone just to see your transaction hang unconfirmed for hours and even days? Don’t worry – it’s safe and as expected and can be avoided.
We know that the Bitcoin blockchain will always process a block every 10 minutes or so. But, more often than not, some broadcast transactions cannot fit in the next or subsequent block.
Some network congestion is a normal and expected event. It happens because two main reasons:
- The transaction volume picks up, which means that some will have to wait for others to be processed first.
- The hashrate drops sharply, meaning that the processing power for transaction approval is reduced until a mining difficulty corrects itself accordingly. The difficulty adjustment occurs every two weeks.
In any (or both) of these cases, nodes have a way to prioritize some transactions over others: the larger fee payers generally have to be mined and processed Firstly.
Meanwhile, all other unconfirmed transactions that pay lower fees are landing in a backlog, otherwise known as mempool.
Things to know about Bitcoin mempool congestion
While most people refer to the mempool as a single entity, technically it is not. It’s easy to get confused because it seems like a single entity most of the time.
In fact, each node has its own fempool. Goals may vary slightly, depending on whether or not they run on default settings. However, by default, the size of the mempool cannot normally exceed 300MB.
So whenever you do a Bitcoin transaction, first it is broadcast to the network for miners’ goals to pick up. When contained in a confirmed block, nodes remove it from their mempools.
If and when the transaction volume increases, consumers choose to pay higher fees to receive confirmation faster than others. That’s when your transaction might end up being unconfirmed for a while, assuming the current median price tag is picked for you to move your BTC.
It goes the opposite way – when transaction volume decreases and no transactions remain in the backlog, you can choose to pay as low as 1 sat / byte fee and confirm your transaction in as little as 10 minutes.
In fact, the Bitcoin mempool was completely cleared not so long ago on November 11, 2020, allowing Bitcoin to be sent for very low fees.
But on rare occasions, the exact opposite can happen: Bitcoin mempool gets full by exceeding its maximum size limit, just as it did two weeks before it was cleared, on October 30, 2020, spiking the median fees to a three-year high of $ 11.66 and leaving 145,000 transactions pending.
The highest upcoming BTC transaction account during a period of high transactions.
In this situation, the lowest fee transactions can be thrown out of most mempools. This is why sending a transaction for a minimum fee is never recommended but it is always advisable to check the network status before sending a transaction.
You can check Bitcoin mempool metrics (unconfirmed transaction account, upcoming transaction fees, mempool size, etc.) at any time properly here or at similar sites that aggregate real-time blockchain data.
But even if your transaction doesn’t show up on blockchain for this particular reason, you can always re-broadcast it later. However, you can also take measures to prevent or avoid such situations at all, especially when shopping with CoinGate merchants.
How to speed up your Bitcoin transaction when the network gets frustrated
We have already mentioned that the network congestion can be easily circumvented. There are a few options that you have to speed up your transaction, such as Choosing to Pay Child to Parent (CPFP), or Location RBF (Fee Replacement) on your wallet.
However, if you spend Bitcoin at one of the CoinGate merchants, there is a more efficient and less complicated method of doing so – Lightning Network.
Network Lightning – a perfect tool to combat BTC network congestion?
To put it briefly, Lightning Network is a second-tier solution for Bitcoin that enables much faster and cheaper transactions in high volumes between users, without the need for miners to mine the block and confirm it.
To use Lightning Network payments, all you need is a wallet that supports it. Electrum, Zap a Eclair wallets stand out from the rest as they are not addictive and do not require you to set your own goal.
Good news is, all CoinGate traders have Lightning Network support enabled by default, which means you can buy with Bitcoin in hundreds of online stores at any time without worrying about whether or not the congestion is networked, or what the transaction cost should be.
What is Lightning Network, again?
If you’re not familiar with the Bitcoin Lightning Network protocol yet, here are a few key points that sum it up pretty well:
- As Bitcoin blockchain can handle around seven transactions per second (TPS), the scalability of the network eventually became a problem, and second-tier solution, suggested the Lightning Network (LN);
- LN solution enabled split-second Bitcoin transactions in high volumes between users, without the need for network confirmation;
- By opening Lightning channels, users can negotiate between themselves “off-chain” for infinity, and settle the final amount only;
- LN’s own transactions cost close to nothing a allow sending minimum fractions of Bitcoin.
Learn more by watching this Youtube video:
Here’s how to send Bitcoin through the Lightning Network to CoinGate merchants
If you want to try using the Lightning Network, you can!
Don’t have a clue where to start? Feel free to use it this step by step guide that teaches you how to use Lightning Network payments when you stumble upon a CoinGate merchant.
Do you know of any other effective ways to speed up Bitcoin transactions? Let us know going forward Twitter!
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