In its simplest form, a blockchain is a digital ledger that is constantly updated, can never be changed, and maintains a freely accessible record of every transaction that has ever occurred on the network. All of this is publicly available to anyone who can view it. All you need is a decent internet connection and you’re ready for racing.
The question of whether you can view the entire blockchain is not as simple as you might think.
Bitcoin is an example of a public blockchain
Blockchain technology is probably one of the most innovative inventions of modern times. It aims to create a reliable, unfilterable and non-censorable flow of data and information accessible by anyone, from anywhere in the world. And although blockchain is just emerging from its embryonic stage, it has huge potential to have a positive impact on the near future.
To further explore the idea of whether we can visualize the entire blockchain, it is essential to realize that there is not only one singular blockchain. In fact, there are 3 main types of blockchains: public, private, and hybrid blockchains.
Bitcoin and Ethereum are two examples of public blockchains. Currently, there are at least 1,000 different blockchains and since they all exist as separate ledgers, each has its own blockchain explorer. This is where you can freely access all transactions ever made on a specific blockchain.
For example, if you want to check the status of your last ETH transaction, all you have to do is consult the Ethereum blockchain explorer. This is where all your ETH transactions are freely accessible and where you can also explore all the other ETH transactions that have ever been made.
So, if you need to view the entire Ethereum blockchain you can do it. Simply, visit etherscan.io and start exploring. You can search for transaction data specific to your cryptocurrency transaction or search based on different parameters, such as recipient address, sender address, or transaction ID.
If you want to explore other crypto transactions, you can repeat the process for each of the different public blockchains. Below we provide some explorers for some of the largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization:
- Bitcoin: btcscan.org/
- Ethereum: etherscan.io
- BNB: bscscan.com
- XRP: bithomp.com/explorer
Private blockchains typically operate on a much smaller scale with controlled access. These blockchains are not decentralized, they are not immutable, and they control who is allowed to view, modify, and delete data. Clearly, most of the data on a private blockchain is not intended for public scrutiny.
The most significant use case of a private blockchain would be a CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency).
lie at the heart of everything, combining elements of private and public blockchains. This allows them to control who can view the data stored on the blockchain and what data can be viewed publicly.
Two great examples using hybrid blockchain in the supply chain are IBM Food Trust and Walmart.
Conclusion: It depends on the blockchain
So, if we take this question at face value, then the answer must be no. You cannot view the entire blockchain, just due to the fact that there are private blockchains that you do not have access to. You can’t even see all blockchains at once. You can, however, view the entire Bitcoin blockchain. You just need to use blockchain explorers that belong to specific blockchains. In other words, you can view them, but only one at a time.