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Sync from a checkpoint

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Checkpoint sync is a feature that significantly speeds up the initial sync between your beacon node and the Beacon Chain. With checkpoint sync configured, your beacon node will begin syncing from a recently finalized checkpoint instead of syncing from genesis. This can make installations, validator migrations, recoveries, and testnet deployments way faster.

To sync from a checkpoint, your Prysm beacon node needs three pieces of information: the latest finalized BeaconState, the SignedBeaconBlock, and (if you're on a testnet) the genesis state for the network you're using. Together, the BeaconState and SignedBeaconBlock represent a single checkpoint state.

These three pieces of information can be retrieved either via a network request, or via file export/import. Syncing via network is the method we recommend to most users because it's more straightforward.

After configuring checkpoint sync, we strongly recommend verifying the authenticity of your beacon node's checkpoint as a way to "trust but verify" the integrity of your checkpoint data.

Option 1: Configure checkpoint sync via network request#

Start your Prysm beacon node with the --checkpoint-sync-url flag set to a fully synced beacon node's RPC gateway provider endpoint. This endpoint is usually exposed via port 3500. Set the --genesis-beacon-api-url flag to the same URL if you want to fetch the genesis state along with the BeaconState and SignedBeaconBlock. You may also use a public beacon chain checkpoint sync endpoint at your own risk at https://eth-clients.github.io/checkpoint-sync-endpoints/ .

The following command starts a beacon node with checkpoint sync configured to pull checkpoint state from another local beacon node's RPC endpoint using port 3500:

./prysm.sh beacon-chain --checkpoint-sync-url=http://localhost:3500 --genesis-beacon-api-url=http://localhost:3500

To confirm that checkpoint sync has succeeded, look for the following output:

level=info msg="requesting <your configured checkpoint sync endpoint>"

Serve checkpoint sync requests#

The above instructions tell you how to request checkpoint state from another node. If you want to serve these requests, run a fully synced node with the following flags:

  • --enable-debug-rpc-endpoints: The Beacon Node API for retrieving a BeaconState is a debug endpoint - this flag tells Prysm to enable the endpoint so checkpoint sync requests can be served through your beacon node's RPC gateway provider endpoint.

Note that this is entirely optional. The beacon node requesting the checkpoint state from this node doesn't need these flags.

Option 2 (Advanced): Configure checkpoint sync via file export/import#

info

Go needs to be installed on the machine that hosts your synced beacon node if you use this method. See go.dev for installation instructions.

When you sync via network request, the BeaconState, SignedBeaconBlock, and genesis state files are delivered from one beacon node to another using a peer-to-peer connection. When you sync via file export/import, you manually export these files from one beacon node and import them into another. This can be useful if you don't want your beacon node to expose an RPC gateway provider endpoint. Block explorers and client teams can also host these exported files statically as a trusted checkpoint sync source.

Issue the following commands to export the BeaconState and SignedBeaconBlock files from a synced beacon node using prysmctl. Until prysmctl is included in Prysm's binary release package, it is necessary to run it from a local source checkout:

info

Installing prysmctl via prysm.sh, or downloading it from prysm's github release page, will be possible in an upcoming stable release.

$ git clone git@github.com:prysmaticlabs/prysm.gitCloning into 'prysm'...remote: Enumerating objects: 167386, done.remote: Counting objects: 100% (332/332), done.remote: Compressing objects: 100% (234/234), done.remote: Total 167386 (delta 118), reused 220 (delta 93), pack-reused 167054Receiving objects: 100% (167386/167386), 154.30 MiB | 39.56 MiB/s, done.Resolving deltas: 100% (127482/127482), done.
$ go run github.com/prysmaticlabs/prysm/v3/cmd/prysmctl checkpoint-sync download --beacon-node-host=http://localhost:3500

You should see the following output if your export was successful:

INFO[0000] requesting http://localhost:3500/eth/v2/debug/beacon/states/finalizedINFO[0001] detected supported config in remote finalized state, name=goerli, fork=bellatrixINFO[0001] requesting http://localhost:3500/eth/v2/beacon/blocks/0x766bdce4c70b6ee991bd68f8065d73e3990895b1953f6b931baae0502d8cbfcfINFO[0001] BeaconState slot=3041920, Block slot=3041920INFO[0001] BeaconState htr=0x34ebc10f191706afbbccb0c3c39679632feef0453fe842bda264e432e9e31011d, Block state_root=0x34ebc10f191706afbbccb0c3c39679632feef0453fe842bda264e432e9e31011INFO[0001] BeaconState latest_block_header htr=0x766bdce4c70b6ee991bd68f8065d73e3990895b1953f6b931baae0502d8cbfcfd, block htr=0x766bdce4c70b6ee991bd68f8065d73e3990895b1953f6b931baae0502d8cbfcfINFO[0001] saved ssz-encoded block to to block_goerli_bellatrix_3041920-0x766bdce4c70b6ee991bd68f8065d73e3990895b1953f6b931baae0502d8cbfcf.sszINFO[0001] saved ssz-encoded state to to state_goerli_bellatrix_3041920-0x34ebc10f191706afbbccb0c3c39679632feef0453fe842bda264e432e9e31011.ssz

The two exported *.ssz files are your BeaconState and SignedBeaconBlock files. Their filenames combine their file type (state, block), the network (goerli), the fork name (bellatrix), the slot (2397120) and the state or block root in hex encoding. The checkpoint save command doesn't export the required genesis state, but the genesis state can be downloaded via curl or wget using the following command:

curl -H "Accept: application/octet-stream"  http://localhost:3500/eth/v1/debug/beacon/states/genesis > genesis.ssz

You can also just manually download the genesis state from GitHub: Goerli-Prater | Sepolia | Ropsten

Use the following command to start your beacon node with checkpoint sync configured to use this checkpoint state:

./prysm.sh beacon-chain \--checkpoint-block=$PWD/block_goerli_bellatrix_3041920-0x766bdce4c70b6ee991bd68f8065d73e3990895b1953f6b931baae0502d8cbfcf.ssz \--checkpoint-state=$PWD/state_goerli_bellatrix_3041920-0x34ebc10f191706afbbccb0c3c39679632feef0453fe842bda264e432e9e31011.ssz \--genesis-state=$PWD/genesis.ssz

Verify the authenticity of your beacon node's checkpoint#

To verify that the checkpoint state you're using is legitimate, follow these steps after starting your beacon node with checkpoint sync enabled:

  1. Navigate to http://localhost:3500/eth/v1/beacon/headers/finalized using your browser.
  2. Find the slot number and state_root value.
  3. Use a trusted blockchain explorer to verify the state_root. To be extra safe, follow this procedure using multiple blockchain explorers. Using beaconcha.in as an example, navigate to one of the following pages, replacing SLOT with the slot you pulled from your browser:
  4. Ensure that the state_root reported by the blockchain explorer matches the state_root you pulled from your browser. If you don't see a match, feel free to reach out to us on Discord and we'll help you troubleshoot.

Note that there are many blockchain explorers - we recommend doing your own research to identify the latest, most trustworthy services. We've used beaconcha.in only as an example, not as a recommendation.

Frequently asked questions#

Is checkpoint sync less secure than syncing from genesis?
No. It's actually considered more secure thanks to the protections against long-range attacks afforded by Weak Subjectivity.

Does Prysm's implementation of checkpoint sync support backfilling? Prysm's current implementation syncs forward-only. Backfilling will be supported in a future Prysm release. Note that backfilling isn't required to run a validator - it's only required if you want to run an archive node, support other peers, or query chain history through your beacon node.

Can I use checkpoint sync on any network?
Yes. Checkpoint sync is a network-agnostic feature. You can even use it on local devnets.

Can I use checkpoint sync with an existing, partially synced database?
No - checkpoint sync requires a fresh, unused data directory.

Are there any publicly available, trustworthy checkpoint sync endpoints that I can use?
A community maintained list of public Beacon Chain checkpoint sync endpoints is maintained: https://eth-clients.github.io/checkpoint-sync-endpoints/

Feel free to ask on our Discord server if you need help identifying a Mainnet checkpoint state provider.

Do I need to provide a genesis state when using checkpoint sync on Mainnet?
No. Mainnet's genesis state is embedded within Prysm.

Can I use Infura as a checkpoint state provider?
Yes. Note that you can't use Infura as an execution node endpoint provider (as was the case pre-Merge), but you can use it as a checkpoint state provider.

I started a beacon node with checkpoint sync enabled. Can I have other nodes pull checkpoint state from this node right away, or do I need to wait for it to become fully synced?
Block and state are immediately finalized upon import, so your first node should be able to serve checkpoint sync requests to other clients without having to wait.

Does my execution client need to be fully synced before my beacon node can use checkpoint sync?
Similar to what happens when you sync from genesis, if your execution client isn't fully synced, your beacon node will go into optimistic sync mode. You'll be able to follow the chain, but any validators connected to your beacon node won't be able to propose.

How does checkpoint sync relate to weak subjectivity checkpoints? Prysm offers a --weak-subjectivity-checkpoint flag that allows you to specify a weak subjectivity checkpoint. With this flag specified, your beacon node will ensure that it reconstructs a historical chain that matches the checkpoint root at the given epoch. This can offer the same level of weak subjectivity protection that checkpoint sync offers. See Weak Subjectivity to learn more.

Where can I learn more about checkpoint sync?

Special thanks to the authors of How to: Checkpoint Sync for providing the endpoints and verification procedure used in this guide.