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What are Forks? Hard Fork and Soft Fork Explained

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VOC, Voice of Crypto, Bitcoin, BTC

Blockchains are the building blocks of cryptocurrencies, and they are run by a set of rules known as protocols. For example, a blockchain protocol may include the size of a block on a blockchain, or the reward miners receive for mining new blocks. 

However, these protocols can be changed or updated to fix issues or increase the performance of a blockchain. When a blockchain protocol is changed, it is termed “forking” in cryptocurrency. 

There are two types of forks: soft and hard forks. Thankfully, this article extensively explains soft and hard forks. But, before then, you must know what forks are. Read along!

What are forks?

Forks alter a blockchain’s current codes and protocols to create new or update cryptocurrencies. Here is an analogy that will help you.

Imagine five players in a game governed by rules, but there is a need to change the practices. If all the players agree to change the rules, a new game is developed, and the former game is abandoned. However, if 3 out of 5 players wish to change the rules, a new game is designed with the retention of the old game. This is precisely how forks work.

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The most common reason for forking is for marketing buzz. Another reason for forking is that it’s a form of quick money for developers. Whichever it is, forking can impact a coin’s community, price, and adoption. 

Moving on, there are two types of forks: soft and hard forks.

When protocols are updated, new blocks are created that can be compatible with old blocks or incompatible with them. When updated blocks are compatible with older blocks, it is referred to as “soft forks.” On the other hand, when older blocks are not compatible with updated blocks, it is referred to as a “hard fork.” 

Types of Forks

The two types of forks that exist differ majorly in their compatibility with new blocks. 

Soft forks: Soft forks are changes to a system’s codes and protocols that are backward compatible. It means that non-updated nodes can push new blocks and process transactions if the new protocol is observed. 

For instance, in a soft fork, a block size is changed from 2MB to 1MB. Non-updated nodes will still receive transactions and add new blocks if the block’s size is not more than 1 MB. However, if the size of the block is greater than 1 MB, more unique nodes will invalidate the block. 

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Hard forks: A hard fork is the most common type of fork, and it is a change in a blockchain’s codes and protocols that will be incompatible with the older version. It means that older nodes can not process transactions or push new blocks. 

Hard forks are used to create entirely new blockchains, which may still retain some protocols from the older blockchain. An example of a hard fork is the split of Bitcoin BTC to Bitcoin cash BCH, which occurred in August 2017. 

The importance of forking

Forking allows better performance of a blockchain.

Forking offers users the choice to stay with the new chain or the older version.

Forks have an impact on a coin’s price, community, and adoption.

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Forks increase profits.

To Wrap It Up

Soft forks are essential in adding new features to a block. In contrast, hard forks are crucial to creating an entirely different blockchain.

We must mention that forking brings profit to users because coins in the non-updated blockchain are retained in the updated blockchain. Therefore, you can choose to keep your new coins or sell them if you claim them.

Meta description It is a soft fork when the updated blocks are compatible with the old ones. It is a hard fork when updated blocks are not compatible with old blocks.

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