What Is A Blockchain Fork? Soft Vs Hard Forks: Explained


hard fork

The project also still exists today, with some developers strongly supporting Bitcoin Classic. Nonetheless, the larger cryptocurrency community seems to have generally moved on to other options. Over the years, many developers have attempted to hard fork the Bitcoin protocol, either to fix the perceived flaws of the original system or to enrich themselves. There have been dozens of Bitcoin hard forks, but none have had the staying power of the original. Forks can occur in any blockchain, not just Bitcoin, as the fundamental principles of blockchains and cryptocurrencies remain consistent across platforms. In a blockchain, the blocks can be viewed as cryptographic keys facilitating data transfer.

  • A hard fork is different from a soft fork, a protocol change that does not reject the pre-existing rule set.
  • Despite some lingering interest, bitcoin unlimited has largely failed to gain acceptance.
  • A combinator is a technical term used to indicate the combination of certain

    processes or things.

  • Developers, businesses, and applications can create general purpose (fungible) or specialized (non-fungible) tokens to achieve commercial or business objectives.
  • With soft forks, a change is made to the software protocol that doesn’t clash with the code and old nodes might accept data that appears invalid to the new nodes without the user noticing.

Another notable instance of the hard forking of a blockchain was that of Bitcoin on August 1, 2017, which resulted in the creation of Bitcoin Cash and its native BCH crypto. After a hard fork, the price of the original cryptocurrency and the newly created cryptocurrency may experience significant fluctuations. Factors such as market sentiment, community support, and the perceived value of the new cryptocurrency can influence the price dynamics. One of the most significant hard forks in the history of cryptocurrency is the implementation of Bitcoin Improvement Proposal 91 (BIP 91) in 2017. BIP 91 aimed to resolve the scalability issue faced by the Bitcoin network by activating the Segregated Witness (SegWit) upgrade.


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The fork occurred after a lot of arguing over the best approach to scaling. Bitcoin Cash proponents wanted to increase the block size, while Bitcoin proponents opposed the change. They validate, send, and receive blocks and transactions and maintain a copy of the blockchain.

What is a Blockchain Fork?

So does a holder of the original cryptocurrency doubles their money when a crypto https://www.tokenexus.com/dent/s? The answer is not the same as a stock split since in a stock split, each new share is completely interchangeable and substitutable with the existing shares. This means that the blockchain itself does not need to be changed in order for these updates to take place. It’s like having an update for Microsoft Word, rather than needing to install a brand-new version of the program.

It also creates the risk of double spending in what is called a “Replay Attack”, where a bad actor can intercept a transaction one fork and repeat it on the other chain, making them both valid. Considering the differences in security between hard and soft forks, almost all users and developers call for a hard fork, even when a soft fork seems like it could do the job. Overhauling the blocks in a blockchain requires a tremendous amount of computing power, but the privacy gained from a hard fork makes more sense than using a soft fork. Forks are typically conducted in order to add new features to a blockchain.

Impact of Hard Forks on Cryptocurrencies

A hard fork refers to a significant and permanent divergence in the blockchain protocol of a cryptocurrency. It occurs when developers implement a radical change to the existing rules and structure of a blockchain network. This change creates a new version of the blockchain that is incompatible with the previous version.

hard fork

The shift from Ouroboros Classic to BFT (which happened on February 20, 2020) is

the only traditional hard fork within the Cardano blockchain. This forking event

restarted the Byron mainnet to run the BFT protocol and enable a smoother

transition to Ouroboros Praos without any further chain interruptions. The BFT

protocol was carefully designed so that blockchain history would remain

unchanged, and the blockchain would appear as a single entity. The hard fork combinator is designed to enable the combination of several

protocols, without having to make significant adjustments. The current Cardano

chain combines Byron and Shelley blocks, and after future transitions, it will

also combine Goguen, Basho, and Voltaire blocks – all as a single property. This

combinator facilitates the transition from Shelley to Goguen and beyond by

simplifying the previous Byron-to-Shelley evolution.

What is a Hard Fork?

Just like a single road that later splits into two, there’s now a permanent divergence in their paths. The loss of value directly impacts miners (their rewards are worth less when denominated in dollars). If these two categories tried to strong-arm the rest of the network into following their will, however, it wouldn’t end too well. This is largely a function of the network being opt-in, meaning that users can choose what software they’re running.

Firstly, hard forks can rectify critical security vulnerabilities present in older versions of the software. Secondly, they can introduce new functionalities that enhance the blockchain’s capabilities. Hard and soft forks are similar in that when a blockchain rule is changed, the old version remains in the network while the new one is also present – both creating a split.