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EducationalNovember 17, 2021

What is Etherscan and how to use it?

Shubham Goyal
Product Specialist
November 17, 2021

Etherscan is one of the most popular blockchain explorers for the Ethereum network. It gives Ethereum users access to transactions (both incoming and outgoing), blocks, wallet addresses and other on-chain data. Etherscan was created to foster blockchain transparency, watering down the need for an intermediary since users can access whatever data they are looking for themselves.

With Etherscan, users can understand how the interaction between the blockchain, wallets and decentralized applications (DApps) occurs. Relying on the blockchain explorer, users can identify activities that look suspicious on their wallet address. Etherscan keeps track of all the activities that occur on the Ethereum blockchain. It functions as a search engine for on-chain data on Ethereum, enabling users to discover, confirm and validate transactions.

By pasting a wallet address on the search box, a user can confirm the available balance in ETH on such an address as well as the transactions that have been executed through it. Etherscan can be used for a whole lot of other functions such as checking gas fees, searching for ongoing and upcoming airdrops, scouring through a smart contract’s code to detect bugs.

Ethereum blockchain witnesses millions of transactions daily stemming from activities in the decentralized finance and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) space. Despite the plethora of activities that take place on the blockchain, blockchain explorers take note of them. Thus, it is very easy for a user of the Ethereum blockchain to see the transactions executed without ever visiting the blockchain itself. Having an idea of how transactions are stored on the blockchain is a huge advantage. Etherscan is a great place to start from. You don’t need to connect your wallet or sign up for an account before using Etherscan.

What is Etherscan?

Etherscan is a block explorer service that allows users to access transactions, smart contracts, addresses and others on the Ethereum blockchain. With a tool like Etherscan, the aim of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to decentralize finance is achieved. If users can access intricate details of their transactions through Etherscan, something that is hardly possible in traditional finance, then finance has been truly decentralized.

Aside from using a wallet address, users can obtain on-chain data with the transaction hash (TXID)- a unique combination of letters and numbers that accompanies every transaction. Etherscan does not provide wallet services, store users’ private keys and facilitate trading activities. It only serves as a public repository of blockchain information. While Etherscan does not require signing up, creating an account on it gives a user access to extra services.

Uses of Etherscan

Etherscan has several utilities as a blockchain explorer. Its use case is beyond obtaining details of a transaction. While it is not mandatory to know the other utilities of Etherscan, having an idea of them might come in handy one day.

On the block explorer, users with accounts can add their addresses to the ‘watch list’ to monitor or track their portfolios. They are also notified of every incoming transfer transaction via email. Etherscan also offers API services that developers can take advantage of to build decentralized applications.

For each transaction, whether incoming and outgoing, Etherscan displays the following information: transaction hash, the number of blocks within which the transaction was recorded, the time at which the transaction was confirmed, the address of the sender as well as the receiver, gas fee, the amount sent and the total transaction fee More often than not, transaction fees vary due to high activity traffic on the Ethereum blockchain. In most cases, it is usually high.

A transaction hash (TXID) is useful for confirming the status of a transaction. It works the same way as an address as you just have to enter the hash into the search box on Etherscan and then you can get details of the particular transaction with the hash. These include whether the transaction failed or not; the transaction’s block height, its value amongst others. With this, users can avoid transactions where they may likely be scammed, especially when dealing with another individual.

Etherscan also helps users in ascertaining the amount of liquidity that a token has. This is necessary because there have been several rugpull scams in the past where users buy a token that has its liquidity locked for a short period and they are not able to sell it.

With the blockchain explorer, users can identify how much supply of a token is being held by the team behind the token or by other users. If over 90% of the token’s supply is held by a random user and he sells off, its price will most likely tank. Essentially, Etherscan is a necessary tool for avoiding scam tokens or investments within the Ethereum ecosystem.

Etherscan also has a feature for tracking gas prices on the network. Gas cost is often a big challenge on the Ethereum network. This is usually worse during periods of congestion, which also leads to transaction failure. Employing the gas price tracking tool on Etherscan, users can adjust the gas fee to one that will be enough to send a transaction.

Etherscan provides users with several other details such as the price of Ethereum, its circulating supply, transaction history chart, address growth chart, and mining information. It is also important to note as an Etherscan user that only token built according to the ERC20 standard- the Ethereum blockchain’s standard for token creation- can be checked on the blockchain explorer. There are also block explorers for tokens built on other networks such as Polygon, Binance Smart Chain (BSC), Solana, Algorand.

Conclusion

Etherscan is an important tool for cryptocurrency investors and enthusiasts. The crypto sector is largely unregulated, as such, it is quite easy for bad actors to prey on unsuspecting investors by issuing tokens with either low or temporary liquidity aimed at defrauding them. The blockchain explorer provides more information than your wallet or exchange can show thereby enabling you to escape crypto scams. Another benefit is that using Etherscan comes at no cost; it is entirely free.

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