What Are Nostr Relays?

Funny cartoon depicting fictional Nostr relay.

What are Nostr relays, you might ask? Simply put, they act as ‘servers’ in the Nostr ecosystem, facilitating the storage of events. Every post, share, comment, or ‘like’ you make gets stored in these relays or ‘servers’.

What’s special about these relays is that virtually anyone can set one up fairly easily. For example, Umbrel offers an easy-to-setup relay app that you can download directly from their app store. It’ll install with little to no configuration needed on your part. While it’s possible to share this relay and make it accessible to the public, Umbrel’s relay is primarily designed for operating your own private relay. This relay is ideal for storing your data, as well as data from your friends and family, locally. This ensures that you retain your data even if all other relays on your list go down, an unlikely scenario, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Making your relay publicly available contributes to the growth of the Nostr ecosystem, enhancing its robustness and decentralization. This implies that with each new relay added, it becomes increasingly challenging to censor or ban Nostr. If an issue arises with one relay, there’s no need for concern; there are plenty of others to connect with. You have the flexibility to join as many or as few relays as you prefer. Joining more relays allows you to redundantly store your data across a vast number of them, ensuring that if one relay goes down for any reason, you will still have access to all your data.


There are hundreds, if not thousands, of relays to join and the numbers continue to grow. While most are free to join, this unrestricted access could potentially lead to spam and Not Safe for Work (NSFW) content appearing in your feed. This leads us to another type of relay – ‘Pay-to-Relays’. As the name suggests, these relays require a fee to join. However, the costs are more than reasonable, with most relays charging what one might consider pocket change. For just a few dollars, you can gain access to multiple relays. Prices range from mere cents to a few dollars if you wish to join some of the more popular pay-to-join relays.

Those who intend to use their Nostr accounts for spamming typically hesitate to pay for the privilege. Consequently, pay-to-relays are generally unattractive to these accounts. By joining these pay-to-relays, you effectively keep spammers off your feed. Ideally, having only pay-to-relays on your list can largely prevent spam from reaching you.

If you’re unfamiliar with the entire process of selecting relays, check out our post titled “Pay-to-Relay Basics

Pay-to-relays are slightly more complex to set up, but if you’re interested, check out our post titled ‘Nostr Relay Setup Guide‘ for a more detailed breakdown.

When you’re ready to curate your relays, visit Nostr.watch for a comprehensive list of available relays. It’s a valuable resource for finding all types of relays, whether paid or otherwise.

If you found this post helpful consider joining our pay-to-relay http://nostrelay.yeghro.site or feel free to add our public relay to your relay list wss://nostrpub.yeghro.site.
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