What is a Blockchain Explorer and How Does it Work?
Blockchain explorers allow you to scan a blockchain network for important data, including transactions, addresses, fees, blocks, and more.
Every crypto user should know how to use a blockchain explorer, also known as a block explorer. It’s an important tool that provides a window into what’s going on inside a blockchain network.
Each public blockchain has its own explorer. For example, you can’t use a Bitcoin blockchain explorer to search Ethereum and vice-versa. Think of it as a particular network’s dedicated search engine. Below are some blockchain explorers for popular networks:
- Etherscan.io for Ethereum transactions.
- BNB Beacon Chain Explorer for BNB Beacon Chain
- BSC Scan for Binance Smart Chain.
- Blockchair for Bitcoin.
- Tronscan for Tron
- Polygonscan for Polygon
- FTMscan for Fantom
- Atomscan for Atom
- Solana Explorer for Solana
Most traders and users who often buy or sell cryptocurrency use a blockchain explorer to check the status of their transactions. They also generate information about wallet addresses, including the assets sent/received and the total value of asset holding. Some users, for instance, like to follow known whale addresses to see where big money is moving.
Transaction activity is just one of many things you can view on a blockchain explorer. Miners will use blockchain explorers to confirm if they’ve successfully mined a block. Blockchain explorers can also pull more technical information about the network for savvy users like block difficulty, block height, hash rate, market data, etc.
How do I Check Transaction Status on a Blockchain Explorer?
Every blockchain network has a Command Line Interface (CLI) that allows you to interact with the database and view the network’s history. However, it’s not a very user-friendly interface. Blockchain explorers help translate this interface into something easy to understand and navigate.
Now, let’s start with an everyday blockchain explorer use case: monitoring transactions. You can begin by visiting blockchain.com/explorer. The front page will show a lot of data, including information for specific networks like Bitcoin and an aggregated USD price feed of different cryptocurrencies.
- To check the status of your transaction, copy and paste your transaction hash into the search bar at the top.
- This will take you to the transaction page. The top of the page will show the summary of the transaction. The left column shows the cryptocurrency used to pay for the transaction. On the right is the wallet address that received the cryptocurrency.
- Scroll below the summary page to find the transaction details section. This section shows important information such as the transaction’s status and what time the funds were received.
What is the status of your transaction? Depending on what it reads, your transaction will be pending, confirmed, completed, or failed if there is an error. The following section will explain the different transaction statuses you might encounter.
Common Transaction Statuses and What They Mean
Pending: The network has received the transaction but is still processing it. Common reasons for pending transactions include network congestion or the amount of gas paid to process the transaction (in busier times, higher gas fees ensure the transaction is processed faster).
Confirmed: The network has successfully processed your transaction. Note that transactions usually require several miner confirmations, and until the requisite number of miners has processed it, the transaction can still be reverted.
Complete: This status means that the network has accepted the transaction. Completed transactions are final and irreversible.
Failed: A failed status means your transaction has encountered an error. Possible reasons include not holding enough of a specific asset in your wallet to cover the transaction fees (“Insufficient gas” error), or the transaction was reverted. Note: If you’re depositing to Binance and the transaction status shows “Fail” on the blockchain, please contact the platform from where you initiated the transfer.
How Do I View My Transaction History
Like how people save receipts after buying things at the store, the blockchain keeps a real-time record of every transaction. You can use a blockchain explorer to pull your transaction history instantly for tax and bookkeeping purposes.
- Visit the front page of blockchain.com/explorer.
- Paste your public wallet address into the search bar at the top.
- The next page will show the total value of your assets and an up-to-date list of every transaction on this wallet.
Summary of Blockchain Explorers and How They Help
Knowing how to use a blockchain explorer is essential for any crypto user. These tools provide insights into the inner workings of a particular network. Explorer information ranges from basic things — such as transaction activity and status — to more technical, such as block data. Regardless of your experience level, you’ll most likely use a blockchain explorer to check the status of a transaction, or to gather historical transaction data at some point in your crypto journey.