Block explorers are websites that let you view the information stored in blockchains like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH). This resource explains what block explorers are and what you can use them for.
A block explorer is a website or app that lets you browse and analyse the history of a specific blockchain network all the way to its genesis block.
Since the information in blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum is public, developers have websites and apps to read and display the data.
It’s like a search engine—you input words and it finds matching results. With block explorers, instead of searching with words, you can input things like wallet addresses and transaction IDs (TXIDs).
There can be many block explorers for the same blockchain, much like anyone can read and organise a telephone directory to make it searchable.
You can use a wallet address or TXID to search block explorers. If that wallet address is found, you can see its transaction history, which includes details like the amount of cryptocurrency sent.
If you send cryptocurrency from an exchange to your hardware wallet, you will get a TXID from the exchange. The exchange may say the transaction is ‘pending’. You can search the TXID in a block explorer to monitor the status of the transaction. (That is, whether the transaction is in the mempool or has been added to the blockchain.)
More advanced block explorers can provide details on the blockchain network itself. These details might be the market cap of the blockchain’s native cryptocurrency or mining hash rate.
Blockchain.com Explorer: Bitcoin Block Explorer
Blockchain.com was the first Bitcoin block explorer. It launched in 2011 and remains the world’s most visited Bitcoin block explorer. You can use the TXID of your bitcoin transaction to find details like size, source, destination and value.
Using wallet addresses you can look into BTC holdings, balances and transaction history. Blockchain.com can also be used to generate wallets and as an exchange to buy and sell cryptocurrency.
Etherscan: Ethereum Block Explorer
Etherscan is a block explorer for Ethereum. It lets you search the Ethereum blockchain for transactions, addresses and cryptocurrency prices. You can view other activities happening on Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies built on top of Ethereum, such as ERC-20 tokens.
Etherscan provides no Ethereum wallet or storage services. It’s exclusively used as a directory of the Ethereum blockchain.
BlockCypher: Litecoin Block Explorer
BlockCypher is a block explorer that’s been around since 2014. Initially, you could only use BlockCypher to explore the Litecoin blockchain. Now, you can also explore blockchains like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin.