Before we deep our toes into this topic, there are some terms, which you have to become familiar with. In this article we are going talk about what are forks? In fact, we are going to give you an explanation of soft fork and hard fork as well as why we need to apply those changes into the blockchain network.
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The first two terms you need to know about are as below:
Blockchain protocol refers to the code convention, which determines the mining, connection and transaction rules. In order to be a part of the network, first you must follow the protocol.
The term fork uses, when you have a version of a protocol, which is different from the original one.
Now you are familiar with the definition of those terms. Let’s take a deeper look at each one.
Perhaps the first questions come to your mind are that, why do we need forks? And why do we need to update the protocol?
Below are the main reasons, which are the answers to those above questions:
To fix the serious security issues in older version
The cryptocurrency is the new generation and a form of the currency. As a result, it’s normal that it faces with security issues. Traditional currencies such as U.S dollar have a long history. So far, many changes applied to the paper, font, color and other security layers in order to make it immune against counterfeiting. So, it takes time for cryptocurrencies too to develop its security layers in order to prevent any fraud. In this step, forks are coming forward. By using forks, the developers update the protocol and make the network more secure for the users.
Add on more functionality
In order to make it clear we start with an example. Today we use Windows 10, which has many abilities and capabilities compared to the first versions. It means, that Windows upgraded over the time and became mature enough to respond to our today’s needs. For blockchain technology it would be the same too.
In fact, blockchain code upgrades every year. Since blockchain is an open source development, developers around the world work on it in order to expand its capabilities. If a feature is good enough, it will be used in the next version.
To reverse transactions
Imagine that someone print out fake dollars. In this case, the government can just put the person, who did it in the jail. But, it can’t refund people who received the fake money. On the other hand, the story would be different for the blockchain. If the community recognize any security breach, they can simply proclaim all the transactions, which made from a specified date and time as not existing. It means they can make the transaction like they never happened. So, in case, any fraud or malicious activity happens in the network, they can easily reverse it. As a result, it makes it harder for scammers to steal the people’s asset.
What are forks?; soft fork
Generally, soft fork refers to a protocol change, which has the capability to make it backward.
In fact, in a soft work, it’s not necessary to upgrade your blockchain version immediately to the new version. It means, you can work exactly the same as before. Unless, you intended to do something against the new protocol.
What are forks?; hard fork
A hard fork is basically creating a parallel network. Once, a hard fork is applied, the new version would be completely separated from the old one. In fact, there would not be any transaction option or communication between those two networks. Basically, the new version includes all the historic transactions and after the split, each version has its own transaction history.
What are forks?; Example of hard fork
Bitcoin cash is the hard fork of Bitcoin, which was created on Aug. 1, 2017. In the new version, the transactions speed is higher. In addition, the network is less decentralized. In fact, once the hard fork applied, Bitcoin Cash became a new and separate currency.