Cryptocurrency is one of the most revolutionary technological advancements in the 21st century. What made this novel technology even more popular is its decentralised nature, which eliminates the presence of third parties that helped lessen fees and the time used to process transactions. What makes all this possible is the blockchain.
In essence, a blockchain is an autonomous platform maintained by different nodes scattered across the world. They process, verify and keep the network in check through various consensus mechanisms such as Proof-of-work and Proof-of-stake. When people within this community have disagreements, a solution should be implemented to maintain the blockchain’s functionality. This is where forking enters the scene.
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What is forking in blockchain?
Forking occurs when a protocol is changed in the blockchain. When miners and developers cannot agree on a new version of the blockchain network, a split happens. This retains the network’s original function while allowing changes to be made by people who want to tweak features in a new platform. One common example of this is Bitcoin Cash.
Different types of forks
Cryptocurrency forks may be characterised as either soft or hard. Here’s a breakdown of how each one works to help you understand:
A hard fork occurs when all validators in a network are forced to upgrade to a newer version, which may invalidate previous transactions and blocks. The most recent version of a blockchain is permanently separated from the rest of the network, resulting in a split and the operation of two distinct versions of the network simultaneously.
A soft fork occurs when an upgrade to software is backwards compatible with its previous version. During this update, only the initial valid transactions are voided in the network. To execute a soft fork, only a majority of the members of the network should undergo an update.
Hard fork vs soft fork: Which is better?
Both hard and soft forks play a critical role in the crypto world. They are both required for a variety of activities to maintain the function of the ledger. Development and mining communities often push for a hard fork to be established because of the difference between their security and privacy concerns. On the other hand, soft forks allow for the addition of new features to a blockchain without changing its core attributes.
Depending on the improvement goals of a certain blockchain, both soft and hard forks are suitable in their own right. For minor updates without major changes in the transactions, a soft fork is a perfect option. However, for ledgers looking for more major tweaks, then a hard fork is the answer.
Most popular forks in history
In the history of cryptocurrency, several forks took place. The following is a list of the most notable crypto forks in recent history.
When it comes to forks, Bitcoin is probably the cryptocurrency that underwent plenty of changes. When the world’s digital gold was released in 2009, it faced many issues such as scalability and high fees. Due to this, the Bitcoin XT was implemented in 2015. To improve its functionality, the blockchain’s size was upgraded to 8MB to process at least 7 blocks every 24 seconds.
Despite its success, Bitcoin XT soon fell off the radar when miners left the blockchain. Soon after, Bitcoin Classic came into the picture and gave birth to the Bitcoin Classic token.
Following Bitcoin Classic came Bitcoin Cash, which is one of the most popular forks in the crypto sphere. Influential people such as Roger Ver supported this undertaking. Additionally, exchanges such as Kraken also showed favour to this new split.
Ethereum Classic fork
In 2017, a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) raised approximately $150 million in Ethereum (ETH). This DAO was hacked due to programming flaws.
The hacker could transmit a substantial quantity of ETH and then “ask” the DAO smart contract to return it. This was a recursive call vulnerability that was never fixed. However, not all participants agreed to refund the stolen monies. As a result, the network split into two: Ethereum and Ethereum Classic.
The Bitcoin community built the Segregated Witness (SegWit) technology to allow more transactions to fit into each cryptocurrency block. As an example of a soft fork, SegWit minimises the amount of data that has to be stored in a single block. Instead of being encoded in the block, the public key and signature associated with each transaction are delivered to a separate message channel as part of the transaction.
When it comes to privacy tokens, Monero tops the list in the crypto market. To address some issues in the network, it underwent a major change in the blockchain, specifically at block 1529810, which soon paved the way for Monero V. This major update in the network aimed to address issues such as scalability that became prevalent due to new protocols. Users looking for improved security will find this token fits their preferences.
Litecoin, one of the earliest tokens in the market, was forked and produced Litecoin Cash or LCC. However, it didn’t gather much traction in the market due to the vague framework of the upgrade.
The future of forks and how it will change the crypto sphere
Forking of cryptocurrencies shows the innovative and continuous development of fintech. While forks can introduce change to some, it offers users more choices when it comes to investing their assets.
Additionally, this provides more solutions and ushers potential ideas that can further propel the growth of digital currencies and speed up their adoption across the world.
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