What is a Hard Fork in Blockchain: Important Things You Need to Know About

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A hard fork in blockchain refers to a change in an old cryptocurrency protocol. It makes the invalid blocks and transactions valid or vice-versa. Since blockchain is software that needs continuous improvement and upgrades to the latest version, forks create an excellent way for these changes to happen.

Forks are classified as soft forks or hard forks. These forks are distinct from one another. It occurs when software developers or the crypto community decide that something needs to change in the system. These changes can affect the mining pools and even the performance of cryptocurrency.

Nevertheless, these changes are primarily for improvement and not to harm the cryptocurrency trend or the investors. Forks are an essential part of the system to improve blockchain and cryptocurrency’s speed and performance. It helps prevent frequent bugs and system failures.

One thing that is constant in the cryptocurrency world is change. That’s why it is essential to know what a hard fork in the blockchain is, how it works, and how people can still relate to it. This article will discuss everything you need to know about a hard fork in the blockchain.

Fork

A fork is a process of protocol software change wherein a specific part of a blockchain is copied or removed. If the current rules do not apply to the blockchain, forking or blockchain split should happen. There are changes every second in the crypto community. These changes are essential for both the shareholders and the developers.

Since there are blockchain networks that cannot co-exist or continue to serve their purpose, they need to be divided into two branches. Hence, a new fork is born. It’s why a fork is an excellent way to solve blockchain incompatibility. It helps the cryptocurrency’s network expand and perform excellently without rewriting the whole system.

There are two types of forks that can help the blockchain develop, soft forks and hard forks. A hard fork refers to the change in the blockchain’s rules, resulting in a new block. The old chain and the latest version of the protocol exist side by side. This type is considered safer compared to the soft fork.

On the other hand, soft forks are an update in the system wherein only one of the blockchains should remain valid. Nevertheless, both of these forks create a split in the older version of the blockchain network, whereas the soft fork ends up with one path while the hard fork begins with two blockchains.

Difference Between Hard and Soft Forks

You may be wondering how hard and soft forks work. Here are the differences between the two types of forks:

What is a Hard Fork?

If the old rule is no longer compatible with the new rule, developers often suggest a new chain called a hark fork. A hard fork result creates a new link of blocks from the main blockchain. If the majority support the new blockchain, it will have its crypto name, usually based on the older versions.

For example, the new cryptocurrencies Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold result from bitcoin forks. Hard fork and soft fork both happen when there is a change in the existing code. The older versions of the blockchain technology while the new versions emerge. However, new forks can create tension between miners and developers.

For instance, if the changes in the existing codes in the Bitcoin blockchain can highly affect the miners, then they can disagree. If the block size is 1 MB, some may suggest increasing the block size limit to 2 MB to accommodate the changes. Those who do not want any change in the block size will remain on the original blockchain network. The Ethereum Classic is also a result of a hard fork in the blockchain.

What is a Soft Fork?

On the other hand, a soft fork is a software update for the blockchain. It is more of an adaptation to the previous blockchain than creating a newer version. The old version will remain as long as it can match the standards of the software protocol.

Unlike hard forks, soft forks maintain the old rules while accepting the new rules. It does not create much disagreement between parties because soft forks can keep the old software, also known as backward compatibility. One example of a successful soft fork is the SegWit or Segregated Witness Bitcoin.

The main goal of soft forks is to accept new software while maintaining the transactions in the old software. For example, an old Bitcoin blockchain can simultaneously take 2MB or 4MB block sizes.

What is Bitcoin Cash Fork?

Bitcoin cash hard fork is a cryptocurrency created and developed in August 2017. Bitcoin cash is a result of the main Bitcoin network hard fork. It allowed block size to increase, which resulted in faster and more significant transactions processed per second.

Although they are different blockchain networks now, Bitcoin and Bitcoin cash still share some similarities when it comes to technicality. Their supply was capped at 21 million, using the exact consensus mechanism. The average number of transactions in the Bitcoin blockchain is 2,759, while Bitcoin cash surged to 25,000 transactions per block last September 2018.

Unlike Bitcoin, Bitcoin cash does not incorporate SegWit Bitcoin, which only retains the information relating to the transactions happening in a block. However, this fork has no clearly defined protocol yet. Bigger cryptocurrency forks such as VeChain and Dash have detailed and innovative governance protocols. These protocols will help in the cryptocurrency and voting rights of the pool.

According to the Times of India, BCH is the second-largest Bitcoin fork. It is also considered e-cash or electronic cash. The BTC has a 1 MB block size while the BCH has 32 MB, making transactions better and quicker.

Bitcoin Hard Forks 

The crypto community sprung in early 2009 when a software developer named Satoshi Nakamoto created a program that released bitcoin into the digital market. Bitcoins are digital assets that you can buy and sell. Since Bitcoin has been booming and the system requires updates and improvement, which created the fork system.

Other crypto technology platforms use bitcoin as a model to create other currencies. Bitcoin has been improving and being forked while the old or new version remains. It comes in many variations now, which are called forks. Bitcoin hard forks are an independent change in the blockchain network as the developers see it fit rather than a soft fork.

Through forking, bitcoin is divided into two individual cryptocurrencies. However, some of them were not as successful as the BCH. Nevertheless, they paved the way for the possibility of a hard fork in the blockchain. Some examples of bitcoin hard forks and soft forks are:

  1. Unlimited Bitcoin 
  2. SegWit Bitcoin 
  3. Gold Bitcoin 

Sofware implementing bitcoin and mining procedures were updated, which rejects the older transactions from older software. This process makes sure that the new version of a hard fork in blockchain will have success. However, there will still be users that will continue to use the old nodes, which makes the transactions parallel in two different chains.

How Do Hard Fork Work in Blockchain?

A hard fork works in blockchain by adding a new chain. The new chain will upgrade at nearly the same time if the new chain gets community support. Hard forks utterly separate from the original blockchain to create their network. It helps improve the quality of transactions that happen in both chains.

Additionally, the hard fork allows the other chain to grow on its own without significantly affecting coin holders. Finally, the two blockchains will be unable to communicate or share transactions. In hard forks, the change is permanent. The original cryptocurrency will be distinct from the forked cryptocurrency, as mentioned above. Its operating systems will be different, but they will share a common history.

What Happen in a Bitcoin During Hard Fork?

Bitcoin started as a single blockchain, and it continues to grow and divide as the blockchain requires. New rules will be implemented, and the software will upgrade to the latest version. Therefore, these digital currencies will operate independently. Hard forks will automatically execute as the block size changes and the miners add new chains.

Any hard fork can positively or negatively impact the crypto community. Since updates are happening, this is also the time when cryptocurrencies are unstable. The price of bitcoin, for example, is volatile, which means it goes up and down often during the splitting of the hard fork. Its community of miners and developers can also have divided opinions.

If the new chain receives low community adoption, there is a chance that it will fail. For example, if the users or the miners do not like hard forks, they will not pay attention to them, and eventually, they will die. In the past, hard forks gain a reputation due to political reasons. But as people understand what hard forks are, they come around and support the protocol upgrades.

Many other cryptocurrencies are branching out from big cryptos such as the Ethereum Classic and Bitcoin. The other emerging cryptocurrencies result from community support and excellent investment advice. If people are more knowledgeable, they will see that hard forks are not a threat. You are still free to choose which coins you would like to support.

Conclusion

A hard fork in the blockchain is a safe and essential change in the cryptocurrency world. It helps the cryptocurrency upgrade to be more reliable and efficient. Furthermore, a hard fork is simply an update in the software. It does not affect your coins or your preferences. It will even help you weigh which among the cryptocurrencies have a greater chance to grow.

To wrap up, soft and hard forks are two ways a cryptocurrency can improve for the better. It’s up to the community if they want to support developers’ decisions or not, but it needs to happen. As an individual investor, you should also pay attention to the trend of a fork and original chain to see if it is successful or not.

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