Blockchain is considered as the most disruptive technology among technologies we know today. Today, you can learn about it from a good blockchain magazine. From the time blockchain started its journey, it saw a quick rise in adoption. Although this technology was launched earlier, it became popular when cryptocurrencies started operating into the market. Bitcoin emerged as the first and the largest cryptocurrency ever. After that, it went through some forks, which gave rise to the other cryptocurrencies. The fork is a very impressive event in the world of blockchain. Basically, two types of fork exist, hard fork and soft fork. People want to know what is a soft fork and a hard fork in the blockchain. In this article, we will get to know about the hard fork and soft fork.
What Is Hard Fork And Soft Fork
Hard Fork is a complete alteration in the blockchain network protocol that turns the earlier invalid blockchain blocks into valid blockchain blocks. In the process of a hard fork, it becomes necessary that all the nodes of the blockchain network get upgraded according to the most recent protocol software version. In other words, this event occurs when nodes of the latest blockchain version fail to accept the blockchain of that latest version. This results in a permanent alteration from the earlier blockchain version to a new version. In practice, including a new rule in the code leads to the creation of a fork. With this, people using the older versions of blockchain quickly realize that they need to upgrade their systems in accordance with the new version.
You might be wondering now what could be the reasons for doing a hard fork. Well, there are plenty of them. One reason could be that some security issues were found in the previous version of the blockchain, which resulted in the up-gradation of the entire system. Also, to comply with that new system, all the nodes required an upgrade. If we carefully observe, this idea is prevalent in the IT field, as most networks get attacked and invaded by several cybercriminals. Another cause for a hard fork could be that a particular blockchain community wants to bring some latest features in their network to fulfil specific needs. As blockchain is a decentralized technology, lots of communities love to work on it. Community members of a particular blockchain might decide with their votes about whether to perform a hard fork or not. The two popular cryptocurrencies we know today, Bitcoin and Ethereum, have gone through a hard fork.
Some hard forks of Bitcoin are Bitcoin Cash, Genesis Block, Bitcoin XT, Bitcoin Classic, Bitcoin Unlimited and Segregated Witness. Hard forks of Ethereum are EtherZero, Ethereum MetroPolis and Ethereum Classic.
It is somewhat similar to the hard fork. A soft fork is an alteration to the blockchain protocols in which earlier invalid blocks turn to be valid. It is a backward compatibility process because in this case, blocks get converted according to the earlier version. Thus, as a result, existing nodes need not upgrade according to the system. Soft fork leads to temporary divergence in the blockchain system because miners who have not updated their system oppose the freshly introduced protocols. Hard fork plays a vital role in a soft fork because, without a hard fork, the reversal of a soft fork is near to impossible. Since soft fork allows the alteration in blocks according to the previous version, the hard fork comes into the scene. Bitcoin and Ethereum have gone through some soft forks in order to use the latest functionalities that agree with prevalent features. Some new types of transactions can be included as soft forks, demanding that only participants and miners could know that type of transaction. For soft fork to work, a bulk of mining power is required to be operating from the side of participants knowing the fork. The 2015 BIP66 blockchain fork is recognized as a soft fork of Bitcoin. For Ethereum, Casper FFG update came, which is a hybrid PoW/PoS system.
Thus, the idea behind a soft fork is to make new developments compatible with previous versions. In a hard fork, the idea is to upgrade the whole blockchain network and its related nodes. This is the primary difference between soft fork and hard fork.
In this article, we have known about the hard fork and soft fork in the blockchain. You can know about them from blockchain online courses for beginners. Both the hard fork and soft fork have played a crucial role in bringing out innovations and developments in cryptos. Just like we update our software, blockchain network needs some upgradation so that it could tackle any prevalent issue. Hard forks lead to the creation of new cryptocurrencies, while soft forks are some minor updates that do not result in any new cryptocurrencies. These forks are also known to affect the price volatility of these cryptocurrencies because some updates could either make or break the future of cryptocurrency.