Node Inactive/Unstable Status

Jan 27, 2022
Why is my node tagged inactive?
LnRouter shows an active status tag on every node.
The status tag can be one of the following:
  • Inactive
  • Unstable
  • Active
This article describes how LnRouter determines this status and common issues.
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How Is The Status Determined?

Lightning network nodes disable channels towards peers in case the node can’t establish a connection to its peer. This channel disabled status is gossiped to the network.
LnRouter takes these disabled channels and the the time when the node sent its last gossip message, and determines a nodes status.
The following rules apply:
  • Active: < 25% of incoming channels are disabled.
  • Unstable: ≥ 25% of incoming channels are disabled and last node update < 24 hours.
  • Inactive: ≥ 25% of incoming channels are disabled and last node update ≥ 24 hours.

Offline vs Inactive

Being offline is not the only reason for an inactive channel. Nodes disable channels in various circumstances. For example:
  • The connection is unstable.
  • The node experiences too many stuck payments.
  • The node is actually offline.
All the reasons for an inactive channel can be summarised by the following sentence: The node has issues relaying payments and its peer do not wish to interact with the node.

Is the node gone for good?

How do we determine if a node is actually offline? When you hover the INACTIVE tag on LnRouter you see the exact percentage of channels that are deactivated + when the node sent the last gossip message.
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Here are some helpful patterns:
  • Nodes with a last update of > 24 hours are offline. Online nodes send regular updates every x hours. If they don’t the node is down. Exception: Nodes with < ~20 channels.
  • Nodes with >25% inactive channels but a last update of < 24 hours are either currently experiencing issues or are recovering.
Consider closing channels with peers with a last update of > 2 weeks to recover your funds.

Common Issues

TOR Connection

A lot of TOR nodes experience regular connection issues. This results in a permanent channel inactive rate around 50%. The nodes still send new gossip messages though.

Gossip Speed

It can take up to 24 hours for the Lightning Network gossip to reach all corners of the network. This means even though your node shows all channels as active, other nodes (including LnRouter) have possibly not received this update yet.
This issue usually resolves automatically after 24 hours.

Gossip Rate Limit

Implementations like c-lightning rate limit gossip messages. If your nodes sends more than 1 channel update gossip message per day then there is a chance that the message will be rate limited and not arrive at the destination.

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