What is the difference between a hard fork and a soft fork? 

⚡️ Litecoin is a bitcoin hardfork?

Since Bitcoin's meteoric rise, hundreds of other cryptocurrencies have emerged or been derived from it. Litecoin (LTC), for instance, is an altcoin – a term referring to all digital currencies that aren't bitcoins.

⚡️ Why is the London hardfork called?

The transaction fees will be controlled in the London hardfork. The name “hard fork” comes from the basic changes that engineers could make at the block level – the building blocks of a currency – rather than from exquisite British table etiquette.

⚡️ Is Ethereum a fork of bitcoin?

Ether is a distributed, open-source blockchain with smart contract capabilities. Ether (ETH) is the platform's own cryptocurrency. Ether is the most valuable cryptocurrency after bitcoin, as measured by market capitalization.

Developing for the evolving blockchain scene can be overwhelming, as developers have to make complex decisions in order to guarantee useful network enhancements. With a decentralized system such modifications may take considerable time; if implemented incorrectly however it could potentially bring down the entire structure.

What is a softfork in blockchain?
What are the benefits of a hard fork for cryptocurrency?

When a blockchain undergoes a hard fork, it splits off from its former version and creates an entirely new protocol. Any nodes running on the older versions of this chain will no longer be accessible or accepted by the latest incarnation. This essentially creates a new blockchain and a new cryptocurrency. In stark contrast, a soft fork provides backward compatibility. Even if nodes are running the outdated version, they will still be accepted by the current one – but their access to certain features may be limited.

While both approaches have their own risks and rewards, hard forks can be especially perilous since it could result in the split of a blockchain. This causes two currencies to emerge. A softer option is the soft fork which allows for new features to be included without splitting the network – making this approach less risky but just as rewarding.

It is paramount to bear in mind that cryptocurrency operates within a decentralized system, no matter which method you pursue. Everyone has an opportunity to be part of its evolution by using their voice and getting involved. Don't shy away from making your presence known, sharing your thoughts and allowing yourself to become involved in this unique phenomenon.

What is an example of a hardfork?
What are the two types of forks?

Decision-making procedure

Grasping the fundamentals is essential for a firm comprehension of branching code. Unlike centralized networks where decisions are made by one leader, decentralized systems like Bitcoin have an intricate control mechanism that relies on hundreds or even thousands of individuals to make judgments – something much more challenging than it appears.

Whether it's creating code revisions or assuring the safety of a network, many people are involved in the process of making decisions. Coders need miner approval and full nodes to broadcast transactions across networks, but accomplishing these tasks is not always as simple on paper as it seems. Achieving majority consensus requires careful consideration from all parties involved!

What are two types of forks?
Is Bitcoin a soft fork?

Developers

Developers have the essential duty to create and maintain code, ensuring that all programs remain up-to-date. They also need to test and deploy smart contracts. Without developers, the crypto ecosystem would be unable to keep up with updates or modifications, which makes it unattractive and uncompetitive. However, anyone can participate in open-source settings and contribute code since it's all freely available

Miners

Miners are users responsible for the security of the network. Their indispensable contribution to the Bitcoin network is maximized by running their software, which allows them to add new blocks. As a reward for this service, miners receive both a block and transaction fee as compensation.

Is Bitcoin Cash a hardfork?
What is an example of a soft fork?

Users of a full node

Full node operators are crucial to the Bitcoin network, but they are often overlooked. Each full node operator helps to verify, send and receive blocks across the network. In addition, each full node stores a local copy of the entire blockchain. Without full nodes, the Bitcoin network would not be possible.

The importance of this distinction is clear. It is straightforward to understand why these three groups may exist together. As an example, developers usually mine and handle a full node. An individual could belong to one, two or even all of the types outlined above. Despite that fact, most network users do not engage in active roles given their involvement in other areas

Is Etherium a fork of Bitcoin?
Is Litecoin a fork of bitcoin?

The key to achieving maximum impact with your message is understanding how it's interpreted by those who receive it.

Right now, developers and miners have a paramount sway over Bitcoin. They are essential to the ecosystem's operations as they can easily shape its development through their actions. Without coders writing programs, the network cannot progress, leaving security loopholes unchecked. With no miners running either, it leaves Bitcoin exposed and at risk of malicious attacks which is why they play such an important role in ensuring its safety.

What happens in a cryptocurrency fork?
What is a cryptocurrency fork?

It's critical to note that while all three “groups” are service providers, they are not governing bodies. Because the network is optional, everyone has a free choice about whether or not to use Bitcoin software. Miners have an incentive to make sure users keep using the network and benefit from bitcoin. Developers, however, face a bigger issue – their suggestions could be completely disregarded if people don't agree with the modifications they've made.

In a decentralized network, there may be several “branches” of code. This can occur because anyone can modify the software that runs the network. Different versions of code will interact with each other as more people run them. Some forks might be dangerous though, for example, if they were created to steal user funds.

Why does a cryptocurrency fork occur?
How do Bitcoin forks work?

Choosing a version of software can be difficult when both have the same history. Open-source projects and cryptocurrencies are constantly forking, but it is important to discern between soft forks and hard forks in order to recognize their distinct impacts on networks.

How do Bitcoin hard fork crypto work?
How do Bitcoin hard fork cryptocurrencies work?

The idea of a hard fork

A hard fork is a change to the protocol that makes previously invalid blocks valid and vice versa. This requires all nodes or users to upgrade to the new version of the protocol software. A hard fork is a shift from one set of protocol rules to another, enabling the blockchain network to create new and unique software.

What happens to my Ethereum when it forks?
Bitcoin has undergone multiple forks, or split-offs, over the years.

When two networks exist in parallel, things can get worse. Each blockchain version continues to produce blocks and transactions, but they are mutually incompatible. Some nodes will focus on chain A while others will engage with chain B. In the end, instead of utilizing the same registry, there will be various blocks and transactions

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If a network split occurs, some users may be in for an unpleasant surprise. Generally, users will have the same sum of coins across both chains if a network split occurs. While it is conceivable to spend your coins on either chain, trading them from one chain to the other may prove difficult. Notably, each coin's value varies depending upon which chain they are being used in!

What happens to your coins after a hard fork crypto
Does a Bitcoin fork double your money?

Throughout the years, Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash have diverged in objectives and worth. As a result of these distinctions, they are not compatible – any changes enacted to one will remain exclusive to it alone. Although both systems share similar origins, their paths have become markedly distinct with time.

Who makes the decision to hard fork crypto Bitcoin?
In the cryptocurrency world, what is a fork?

The Softfork is not the same

To prevent the occurrence of a damaging scenario like a hard fork, developers may select an alternate path for integrating code modifications. Softfork is compatible with old nodes and allows them to keep chatting even if they don't upgrade their software right away. To ensure that networks operate smoothly over time, avoid clashing old and new regulations.

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A soft fork allows you to scale the block size without necessarily splitting the network or experiencing any broken blocks. You can always choose how small or large your network's blocks will be, and there is no unbreakable limit as to how tiny they may be. If fewer transactions are required, it then becomes pointless to use up the maximum block size.

What happens when a cryptocurrency is forked?
Is a hard fork appropriate for Crypto?

The “nodes” option is only accessible for nodes running this software if they reject blocks more significant than a certain threshold. By doing so, they will stay connected to the network. Even if data outside the node's rule set is removed, communication with it will still be possible.

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The most recent instance of a successful Bitcoin short fork was the Segregated Witness upgrade. SegWit alters the block and transaction formats without impeding old nodes from comparing data against different regulations. Because of advancements in SegWit, more transactions are placed per network block today. Even after all these years, not everyone has accepted the update.

Which fork style is best?

Developers and users typically don't enjoy hard forks because they can be complicated. However, without a hard fork, it's impossible to modify the protocol opened by Bitcoin. It's possible for a contentious hard fork to permanently split the network, but most won't cause any problems. Planning for a fork and talking with members of the community might help you steer clear of difficulties or conflicts altogether.

What is a branched token? hard fork and soft fork
Is bitcoin a fork?

Simpler alternatives are always preferable. They can assist with a variety of little issues or improvements, but they never make large modifications to the network. The fact that they don't conflict with prior versions of the program is a significant benefit.

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Depending on the goals of the network, both branching options remain viable. Communication and discussion with network users are frequently beneficial in preventing genuine difficulties, whether it's a fork or a soft fork.

Some notable examples of hard forks include

Not all hard forks have occurred with the Bitcoin blockchain—in fact, there are many historical examples of cryptocurrency hard forks. The following is a compilation of some of the most iconic innovations and their substantial contribution to the industry.

What is a fork?
What is a fork?

The two different versions of SegWit

SegWit2x was a proposed upgrade that would have SegWit and increase the block size limit to 2MB on Bitcoin's network.

SegWit2x has decided on the New York Agreement reached on May 23, 2017. The agreement saw that several Bitcoin business owners and miners representing over 85% of the network’s hash rate decided the future of BTC behind closed doors.

SegWit will be initiated with a soft fork, while the block size limit change would take place via hard fork after an indefinite period. This proposal was highly debated because it lacked Bitcoin Core developers' input and seemed to be forced by only a group of businesses- giving them too much power over the network without miners or nodes being included in the decision.

Difference Between Hard Fork Vs. Soft Fork
Difference Between Hard Fork Vs. Soft Fork

Proponents of small blocks argued that larger blocks would make it harder to host a full node, potentially centralizing the cryptocurrency. Those who supported larger blocks argued that BTC’s rising transaction fees would harm its growth and price some users out of the network.

User-activated soft forks are a potentiality on Bitcoin's network. In this case, full node operators like exchanges and businesses can switch to a new blockchain version that has an activation point set for some time in the future. In doing this, they are essentially demanding that miners comply with the new regulations on the network. If they don't comply, there is a possibility of the network splitting apart.

Bitcoin users advocated for a user-activated soft fork at the time to prevent a dangerous precedent from being set.

What is hard fork used for?
What is soft fork in blockchain?

Supporters of Bitcoin's large blocks, discontent with the SegWit2x scheme and seeing the community backing for SegWit instead, chose to divide off from Bitcoin on August 1st 2017. This division would bring about one more digital currency – Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Those who were in favour of this saw it as another way to keep up Satoshi Nakamoto's original vision alive.

The Bitcoin Cash blockchain was created with an eight MB block size- since then, it has increased to 32MB. supporters of BCH maintain that its cheap transaction fees will help it scale and bank the unbanked – believing BTC will be left behind because of much higher transaction fees in contrast. Following the Bitcoin Cash hard fork, other forked cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin Gold (BTG) and Bitcoin Diamond (BTCD) became popular.

The DAO Hack was a major issue for the Ethereum network.

Another large historical ‘hard fork' connected to the decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that launched in 2016 on the Ethereum network. Ethereum runs a set of smart contracts, code fragments that are activated when predetermined conditions have been satisfied. For those who may be unaware, this element is fundamental to the system's capability. These contracts make money programmable and power behind decentralized finance applications (DApps).

What are the two types of forks?
What is hard fork used for?

The DAO raised $150 million worth of ETH in one of the earliest crowdfunding efforts in crypto, before the initial coin offering (ICO) craze of 2017. It was essentially an early iteration of the decentralized governance models Defi protocols use today, wherein token holders vote on decisions affecting the future protocol.

After the DAO's launch, a hacker withdrew $60 million worth of ETH from 11,000 investors. When Ethereum was trading for just under $10, this hack constituted around 14% of all Ether in circulation and caused the investor trustworthiness in the network to plummet.

A passionate conversation arose within the Ethereum community as individuals strived to ascertain how best to counter the attack. To start, proposed a soft fork that would have blacklisted the attacker's address and stopped them from moving any of the funds. The person who claimed responsibility for the attack – or someone pretending to be them – reached out to the community and said they had gotten the money in a “legal” way that followed all of the rules set by the smart contract. They threatened legal action against anyone who tried to take away their earnings.

What is an example of hard fork?
Is Bitcoin a hard fork?

Tempers flared when the assailant announced they would stop any soft fork attempts by paying off ETH miners with the money.

People started arguing again until someone proposed a hard fork. The hard fork was eventually carried out and it erased the Ethereum network’s history back to before the DAO attack happened, moving the stolen funds to a smart contract where investors could get their money back.

Although some investors felt aggrieved by this action, seeing it as an infringement on blockchain's original mission of immutability and insurgency, other stakeholders opted to back a prior iteration of the network known as Ethereum Classic.

The “hash rate wars” refers to the battle between Bitcoin ABC and Bitcoin SV for control of the bitcoin cash network.

Bitcoin Cash forked from the Bitcoin blockchain in August 2017 to create a new network. This community would later split into two groups who were arguing with each other. On one side, The two factions behind Bitcoin Cash went to war with each other, with ABC (BCHA) trying to improve the technology, and SV (BSV) supported by Craig Wright raising the block size.

Is Bitcoin Cash a soft fork?
Soft fork vs. Hard fork

The blockchain split at block 556,767, which resulted in a battle for the BCH ticker symbol. Miners used every resource they had to try and get a hash-rate advantage over the other side. Some people were even calling for a 51% attack on the other network so that its proponents would have to move to their side.

Cryptocurrency exchanges revealed that they would attribute the BCH ticket to the chain that came out on top. Some mining pools diverted all of their resources to hash wars, with Bitcoin Cash ABC having to maintain the majority of the hash rate and fending off 51% of attack attempts. It later claimed the BCH ticker on exchanges and other services, with BSV as its ticker.

Hard and Soft Forks
Hard and Soft Forks

Concluding remarks

All choices come with their own sets of pros and cons, yet sometimes they are the only solutions available. In the blockchain sector, soft force and hard force are not the only two choices. Some platforms may use a hybrid of the two methods or develop their original system. It's impossible to declare one as better than the other in all circumstances. It would be best if you evaluated each case based on its unique characteristics.

It is critical that every user comprehends how these systems run and what implications they may have for the network's future. Thank you for reading. I hope this article was informative. 

Meet Rahul Nambiampurath from Kerala, India, a skilled freelance writer specializing in cryptocurrency. Rahul, who studied finance at Sikkim Manipal University, is an expert in areas such as cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, NFTs, and Web3, the new era of the internet. Rahul started exploring cryptocurrencies in 2014 and gained over fi ..
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