- It is known to all of us that cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Bitcoin are always powered by decentralized open-source software, blockchain.
- So, a fork is nothing but a change to the blockchain’s underlying protocol.
By reading the above topic, one must get confused about the word fork. A fork is nothing but a very important upgrade to the network, which can either represent a radical change or it can also be a minor one that can be initiated by developers or community members. Node operators are the ones that are required and all the machines are connected to the blockchain, which helps validate transactions on it.
Meaning of a Fork
As mentioned above, a fork is nothing but an upgrade to the blockchain’s underlying protocols, which are initiated by the blockchain community. These forks later divided the blockchain into two chains. Sometimes, these two chains are compatible, which results in a soft fork.
On the other side, the changes in the protocols are so crucial that the two chains are not compatible anymore, which results in a hard fork. One also needs to make sure that hard forks, along with soft forks, are the ones that are intentional forks. Also, there are other types of forks, known as accidental or natural forks.
So, this always happens when two miners mine a particular block and later, both are deemed valid by the respected validators. Later, the blockchain accepts the longer chain, which is one of the two chains in which the most blocks are added after the natural fork.
Difference Between The Hard Fork And The Soft Fork
Hard forks are not the only way to improve the software behind cryptocurrency. In contrast, the soft fork is seen as a more reversible, safe alternative; This means that nodes that are not added to a new version will still consider the chain available.
Also, one needs to make sure that soft forks can be used to add new features and functionality without changing the rules the blockchain must follow. Soft forks are often used to implement new features at the programming level.
The soft fork is considered the most convenient of the two. This is one of the purposes of a fork, which is usually used to change the process slightly and ensure that the new process is backward compatible with blocks created before the fork. This means that updating the new system is optional for nodes and only results in a single chain.
Now, the hard fork is the one that is usually an intentional fork, resulting in the chains being incompatible. The chain also continues to follow different paths from the point of the fork. One chain follows the new protocol, while the other continues to follow the old protocols.
Moreover, the hard fork is not always performed to add functionalities. And, sometimes, it is only used to rectify some security risks and hacks. The hard fork also enabled the network’s history to be reset to pre-hack by just nullifying the hack.
In conclusion, it must be clarified that hard forks have always been used previously just to add functionalities and improve the network’s speed. Also, the Bitcoin cash increased the speed of the transactions by just lowering the gas fee as intended.
Also, the soft fork is backward compatible, resulting in just one chain. Soft forks are also updated to the new protocol, which is always optional.