Like all software and operating systems, blockchains require regular updates. The updates increase functionality, fix security concerns, and settle a dispute among the community about the future course of the coin. Read further to understand what a blockchain fork is in detail.
A blockchain fork is a technical phenomenon that occurs when a blockchain splits into two distinct branches. These two branches shared their transaction history until the split. From there, they each go their own way in their own direction. Below are the types of forks in detail.
Code based Fork:
Code based Forking is to take the source code from an open source software program and develop an entirely new program.
Live Blockchain Fork:
When a split happens in the live blockchain, it contributes to the Live blockchain fork. This may happen due to two reasons,
- Accidental Fork
- Intentional Fork
Here the intentional fork is further divided into two types of forks namely Hard fork and Soft fork.
- Accidental fork/Temporary Fork
Thousands of miners are competing to create a new block at any given time. Because there is so much mining going on at once, two or more miners may mine a new block at the same time. When this happens, an accidental/temporary fork is formed. When new blocks are added to one of the chains, the problem is solved and the blockchain network continues to work on the longer chain while abandoning the shorter one.
- Intentional Fork
Intentional fork happens when the blockchain developers make changes to the blockchain protocols resulting in a new set of rules. An intentional fork can be used by developers to increase block size, decrease block time, or even implement an entirely new consensus algorithm. Based on the changes whether it is backward-compatible with the pre-fork blocks, intentional forks are further divided into Soft and Hard forks.
Types of Intentional Forks
- Soft Fork: Software fork is similar to the software updates to the traditional software. Soft forks have been used to add new features or functions to both Bitcoin and Ethereum, typically at the programming level.
- Hard Fork: Hard fork occurs when the code changes drastically and is no longer compatible with the existion original blockchain blocks. In this case, the blockchain divides into two parts: the original blockchain and a new version that adheres to the new set of rules. This results in the creation of an entirely new cryptocurrency. The infamous cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold emerged from hard forking the original Bitcoin blockchain.
Why Forks are important
Developers may implement a hard fork for a variety of reasons, including correcting critical security flaws discovered in older versions of the software, adding new functionality, or reversing transactions — for example, when the Ethereum blockchain created a hard fork to reverse the hack on the Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO).
Knowledge about Blockchain forks helps you to decide which of the two blockchains you need to follow or upgrade! Contact BSEtec for more details.