Computers and Technology

Explained: What Is a Hard Fork & How Does it Work? Blockchain

When applied to blockchain technology, a hard fork (or hardfork) is a significant change to the network’s protocol that renders previously invalid blocks and transactions valid, or vice versa. All of the nodes or users are required to upgrade their software, If the protocol has a hard fork,

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts and developers will launch forks, If they are dissatisfied with the functionality of existing blockchain implementations. They may also use to crowdfund new technology initiatives or cryptocurrencies. Learn Blockchain to be completely clear with all the fundamentals of this brilliant technology. Also since there is a high demand for blockchain professionals, learning blockchain is a sweet deal.


What is Blockchain?

When we talk about blockchain, we’re talking about a decentralized storage technique using a set of records called blocks, which store data openly and chronologically. Cryptography is used to encrypt the information before it is sent. It protects the user’s privacy and prevents data from being manipulated.

On a blockchain network, information is not controlled by a centralized authority. It’s instead up to the network’s participants to preserve data and approve transactions.

Everyone in the network can view the information in a blockchain and any additions must be approved by all members.

Forks in Blockchain

Even though blockchain forks are described in a number of different ways, the common consensus is that they occur when a blockchain diverges into two or more possible directions.

As with every crypto-technology platform, forks can occur. Alternative chains form when various parties disagree, and while most of these forks are transient, others become permanent.

Only users within the network are authorized to approve transactions for changes, resulting in short-lived forks.

Intentional and accidental forks are different things. Due to two or more blocks found simultaneously, an accidental fork occurs. This is resolved when more blocks arrive, and one of the chains ends up being longer than the other. Orphaned blocks are blocks on the shorter chain that blockchain network abandones.

Two sorts of purposeful forks exist in the second group of blocks: hard forks and soft forks.

What Is a Hard Fork?

In a blockchain, a hard fork is a rule change that has far-reaching repercussions for the whole protocol of the network. Legitimate blocks produced under the new rules may be considered invalid, and vice versa. This means that all nodes intended to run under the new rules will need to change their software as a result of this.

Upon the addition of the new rule, one path will follow the new blockchain and the other will follow the old one. As long as one group of users (or nodes) continues to run on obsolete software, a permanent split is possible.

There are times when nodes utilizing the new software may opt to revert to previous rules, but, this does not happen every time. users using the old chain discover that their version is outdated and less valuable choose to upgrade to the new one, Once the new fork is generated.

There are two blockchains created using a hard fork because of a change in the blockchain code.

A hard fork creates two incompatible versions of the blockchain. As a result, nodes running on the new version of the blockchain will not recognize transactions made on the old version, and vice versa. There must be unanimous agreement among all nodes on the blockchain for a hard fork to occur.

Hard Forks: Why Do They Happen?

Blockchain hard forks usually occur to fulfill the needs of the community using/mining a certain cryptocurrency. Because of bugs in older versions of the program, introducing new functionalities or arguments within the cryptocurrency community about the coin’s direction may be essential to fix the problem.

Some crypto enthusiasts are eagerly anticipating Beacon Chain Ethereum 2.0’s hard fork, and expects to bring various improvements to Ethereum 2.0, including the ability for nodes to run on mobile devices.

Another option is to promote a new cryptocurrency through a hard fork, useful as a part of the advertising effort. Those who bought Bitcoin in October 2017, for example, were eligible to receive the same amount of Bitcoin Gold as a result of a free airdrop in November 2017.

As part of a marketing stunt, tokens or currencies are given to blockchain wallets as part of an airdrop campaign. According to the rule, it’s done this way… and the result, there was a Bitcoin Gold fork.

Cardano Mary’s hard fork in March 2021 was an example of a hard fork that can occur on any blockchain, not only the Bitcoin network or Ethereum.

Other Motives for Hard Forks

Hard forks can occur for a variety of reasons, in addition to the ones listed above.

If a security breach or attack occurs on a blockchain network, hard forks can be used to repay users. Attackers’ transactions from a certain date onwards are invalid. The reason for this is that developers update newly exploited vulnerabilities as soon as possible following a breach.

The DAO is prone to this kind of weakness.

Ethereum Classic hard-forked because Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) is an open-source blockchain ledger, and due to the project code  — we’ll go into more depth about this later.

When it comes to a popular system like Bitcoin, coders from all around the world are always working to improve it by proposing particular updates. If you’re have interest in Bitcoin, you’ll find a comprehensive list of BIPs (Bitcoin Improvement Proposals). EIPs (Ethereum Improvement Proposals) are available for Ethereum.

Proposals for improvements to the Ethereum protocol (EIPs) are documents containing suggested features and processes that propose potential changes

Wrapping up

It is important to understand that a hard fork is a major modification to the blockchain that requires all nodes in the distributed network to upgrade (that supports readjusted functionality).

As an alternative, a soft fork is a software upgrade that is compatible with older versions of the blockchain. These miners can still validate and verify transactions without upgrading to the newer version of the software.

In the context of network development, both hard forks and soft forks are relevant. Despite the lack of centralized control, they allow the community to make enough adjustments and upgrades. There are several courses on blockchain technology available for you to take. Enroll in the best blockchain certification program to kickstart your journey.


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