The Ethereum blockchain is a decentralized network that allows for peer-to-peer transactions between participants without the need for an intermediary. A transaction on the Ethereum blockchain is technically initiated by an external account owner, not a contract. For example, if User A sends 1 Ether (ETH) to User B, the action of debiting from one account and crediting to another changes the blockchain’s state. The change specifically takes place on the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), a software platform that executes smart contracts and stores data on the blockchain.
Ethereum transactions need to be broadcast to the entire network, and any node can broadcast a request for the execution of a transaction on the EVM. After broadcasting the request, a validator can then execute the transaction and propagate the state change to the whole network. Transaction fees are incurred during the process of validation, and each transaction must be included in a validated block. There are different types of transactions on the Ethereum network:
1. Regular transactions: transactions occurring from one account to another.
2. Contract-execution transactions: transactions interacting with deployed smart contracts (the “to” address is a smart contract address).
3. Contract-deployment transactions: transactions with no “to” address (the data field is simply used to deploy the smart contract’s code).
Checking the Status of an Ethereum Transaction
When an Ethereum transaction is initiated, it is logged into Ethereum’s memory pool (mempool) and waits for validators to pick it up. The mempool functions much like a waiting room where pending transactions are held. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to check an Ethereum transaction’s status:
Step 1: Select an Ethereum blockchain explorer. Some blockchain explorers are specific to Ethereum, such as Etherscan, Ethplorer, and EthVM. Others support multiple chains, such as Blockchain.com and Tokenview, among others.
Step 2: Enter the transaction hash into the blockchain explorer’s search field. The txid is a unique identifier attached to a specific transaction. All transactions carried out on-chain, or those to and from external addresses, carry a unique txid found in the transaction details. Depending on the platform, it can also be called a “hash” or “txn hash.” It usually looks like a string of random letters and numbers.
Step 3: Click the icon for “search” or “enter” on the blockchain explorer.
Step 4: Check if the transaction was successful or not. Details indicating the state of the transaction will appear on the blockchain explorer. If the transaction was successfully validated and is now on the blockchain, it will say “success” or “successful.”
If there are no errors displayed, it means that the transaction was completed successfully. The ETH should be credited to the destination wallet or exchange account within 24 hours of sending.
However, in the event of an Ether transaction failure, several error messages can appear:
1. Error message or symbol: A red exclamation point or an error message saying “bad instruction” or “out of gas” means that the transaction was unsuccessful and the funds did not reach their intended destination. In the case of an “out of gas” error, users can double the gas limit they initially specified and try again.
2. Reverted: This pertains to a smart contract user error. It means that the user should double-check the details of the transaction.
3. Transaction not found: Either the transaction did not go through or it isn’t appearing on the blockchain explorer yet. Try using another explorer. If it still doesn’t appear on multiple ones, there’s a good chance it did not go through.
4. Pending: The transaction is still waiting to be validated or processed, but it was located in the explorer’s transaction pool. Sometimes pending transactions can still be canceled or replaced by a user.
Transaction Processing Time
An average transaction on the Ethereum blockchain will typically take between 15 seconds and five minutes to process, depending on several factors. These include the amount paid to process it (transaction fee) and how busy the network is at the time of processing.
Ethereum transitioned from a proof-of-work to a proof-of-stake blockchain after the Merge. However, transaction speeds remain roughly the same. According to the Ethereum Foundation, it’s a common misconception that the Merge drastically sped up transactions. However, there’s a slight difference, with slots occurring precisely every 12 seconds post-Merge compared with every 13.3 seconds pre-Merge. In any case, the change is barely noticeable by most users, as processing still usually depends on network congestion and transaction fees.
Transaction Status and Fees
Ethereum participants must pay gas fees to use the network to transfer funds or deploy smart contracts. The fees largely depend on the number of participants waiting to execute transactions at a given time. Network congestion and demand are thus directly proportional to transaction costs. When demand is high, costs rise — the opposite is true when demand is low. In any case, checking a transaction’s status helps a trader monitor the cost of using the network.
Low gas fees can usually truncate or delay transactions, leaving them to remain pending for long periods of time, especially during high network congestion. Such transactions will remain pending until the gas fees reach the required minimum fees on the network. If this happens, a user can resend the transaction by resubmitting it and increasing the gas fee while ensuring it carries the same nonce.
In addition to transaction status, Ethereum blockchain explorers can also reveal helpful information about each transaction, such as the timestamp, block confirmations, transaction fee, ETH price, base fee, gas limit, and nonce. By being aware of these details, traders can stay on top of their ETH transactions and make sure transactions are processed correctly and quickly. This helps to ensure smooth Ethereum transactions when sending and receiving funds or deploying smart contracts. Understanding a transaction’s status can also help users adjust their spending habits and optimize network usage.