There are basically four pieces of data that are maintained:

  • blocks/blk*.dat: the actual Bitcoin blocks, in network format, dumped in raw on disk. They are only needed for rescanning missing transactions in a wallet, reorganizing to a different part of the chain, and serving the block data to other nodes that are synchronizing.
  • blocks/index/:* this is a LevelDB database that contains metadata about all known blocks, and where to find them on disk. Without this, finding a block would be very slow.
  • chainstate/*: this is a LevelDB database with a compact representation of all currently unspent transaction outputs and some metadata about the transactions they are from. The data here is necessary for validating new incoming blocks and transactions. It can theoretically be rebuilt from the block data (see the -reindex command line option), but this takes a rather long time. Without it, you could still theoretically do validation indeed, but it would mean a full scan through the blocks (140 GB as of july 2017) for every output being spent.
  • blocks/rev*.dat: these contain "undo" data. You can see blocks as 'patches' to the chain state (they consume some unspent outputs, and produce new ones), and see the undo data as reverse patches. They are necessary for rolling back the chainstate, which is necessary in case of reorganisations. So yes, everything but the block data itself is indeed redundant, as it can be rebuilt from it. But validation and other operations would become intolerably slow without them.

NOTE: database/:* BDB database environment; only used for wallet since 0.8.0


2017-11-04 05:15:09 Cache configuration:
2017-11-04 05:15:09 * Using 2.0MiB for block index database
2017-11-04 05:15:09 * Using 8.0MiB for chain state database
2017-11-04 05:15:09 * Using 440.0MiB for in-memory UTXO set (plus up to 286.1MiB of unused mempool space)
2017-11-04 05:15:09 init message: Loading block index...
2017-11-04 05:15:09 Opening LevelDB in /work/_DATA/Bitcoin_test/1/blocks/index
2017-11-04 05:15:09 Opened LevelDB successfully
2017-11-04 05:15:09 Using obfuscation key for /work/_DATA/Bitcoin_test/1/blocks/index: 0000000000000000
2017-11-04 05:15:10 LoadBlockIndexDB: last block file = 0
2017-11-04 05:15:10 LoadBlockIndexDB: last block file info: CBlockFileInfo(blocks=119836, size=133991641, heights=0...119835, time=2009-01-03...2011-04-23)
2017-11-04 05:15:10 Checking all blk files are present...
2017-11-04 05:15:10 LoadBlockIndexDB: transaction index disabled
2017-11-04 05:15:10 Opening LevelDB in /work/_DATA/Bitcoin_test/1/chainstate
2017-11-04 05:15:10 Opened LevelDB successfully
2017-11-04 05:15:10 Wrote new obfuscate key for /work/_DATA/Bitcoin_test/1/chainstate: cb7b45d88624f992
2017-11-04 05:15:10 Using obfuscation key for /work/_DATA/Bitcoin_test/1/chainstate: cb7b45d88624f992

heights=0...119835, time=2009-01-03...2011-04-23