What Are Crypto Forks and What They Are Used For?

Cryptocurrency fork

With the technology of distribute ledger coming to our everyday life there have appeared lots of terms and phenomena that are clear for a narrow group of stilled technical experts. Well, have you ever heard of forks in the world of cryptocurrencies?

For instance, Bitcoin was the first decentralized digital currency that used distributed ledger also known as blockchain.

Blockchain, as the term says, is comprised of blocks of information arranged chronologically depending on the time they were checked. For a block to be added to the chain one has to follow and coordinate a set of rules and protocols.

A fork implies that blockchain is split in two parts.

Blockchain fork is used if standard rules and protocols used today in blockchain need alterations to, for example, increase block size or improve blockchain functions.

As soon as these changes are done, they cannot be reverted and stay forever.

Changing blockchain protocols may result in either soft or hard fork.

Soft forks

They come when blockchain gets updated but the new version is still compatible with the older one. After the update everyone with the older version of blockchain still have access to new blocks although they will not use new functions.

If these persons are miners, they get errors if they try to check a block. To avoid this all of them have to update their software.

Hard forks

This stands contrary to soft fork. When blockchain gets updated, the split creates a completely new chain with its own rules and protocols that do not support backward compatibility. Both of these chains will remain with each producing no impact on the other one.

Forks in the world of cryptocurrencies are inevitable given immense growth of coins and continuous improvement of blockchain. The point is that every momentous decision must be discussed on with the community, or the concept of decentralized financial system loses its meaning.