Blockchain Forks: Explained!

Blockchain is a hot topic, with people curious about its workings and its impact on the crypto market.
Saif K.
6:16 4th Aug, 2022

Blockchain, in simple words, is a decentralised, distributed system that is responsible for keeping a record of all the transactions and maintaining transparency among its users as well. With Blockchain technology gaining popularity, it has seen its uses in various other aspects as well and has not only been restricted to the Crypto market.

What are Forks in Blockchain?

Every technology, be it centralised or decentralised needs updates to modify its working and improve its usage for its users and so does blockchain technology. These updates are known as Forks in blockchain technology. (Ex: Cardano Hardfork)

Blockchain Forks Zelta
Credits to Coinomi

Blockchain technology consists of its own protocols and thus acts on those protocols to store information just like a database. These protocols are responsible for defining the exact rules on which the blockchain technology would act and how the users would interact with the blockchain.

To explain forking in blockchain let us take an example of a Computer Code. As we all know that every computer code requires regular updates in order to modify itself, or to remove minor bugs, etc. thus, blockchain technologies also keep on updating themselves to improve the technology, fix errors, modify its security, and sometimes some new features are added at the time of updates. As mentioned above, these updates are known as forks in blockchain technology and they are responsible for modifying the experience of everyone on the network. Unlike the centralised system such as various apps like WhatsApp, Instagram, etc the decentralised system cannot force anyone on that network to update, everyone on the network has a free choice on when to update and when not and this is what makes the forks in blockchain a very heated topic for debates.

Types of Forks

As mentioned above, fork in blockchain has been one of the most heated topics of debate among the community. So, let us discuss the types of forks and the differences between them.

Crypto Forks are broadly categorised into two types which are given below:

1: Soft Crypto Fork

As the name says, a soft fork is an update which does not affect the protocol fully and is just introduced for some minor bugs or changes. A soft fork is backwards compatible which means that even if some changes are introduced to the system and protocols, it would still work with the older versions of the blockchain.

Soft Fork Zelta
Credits to

To make an update backwards compatible is a very difficult task yet beneficial for any software because it enables the users to update any time they want.

For example, Whatsapp is an application which tends to make all its updates backwards compatible and its users decide when to update the app. Although, the updated features can be accessed between two users who have updated their respective applications.

Making a backwards-compatible update has advantages but it comes with a significant limitation as well. To be backward compatible, the updates cannot be very big or cannot alter the fundamentals of the protocol.  

2: Hard Crypto Fork

Unlike soft crypto forks, the updates are not backwards compatible always and thus force the people to update as soon as it is launched. Hard crypto forks are meant to alter the protocols and introduce new changes to the technology.

Hard Fork Zelta
Credits to ByBit

If we talk about centralised technologies like WhatsApp, they can introduce a hard fork to the software, and every user would then have to update their apps to continue using WhatsApp. But, on the other hand, blockchain is a decentralised network, you cannot decide what other person would opt for and thus introducing hard forks in the blockchain technology is a heated topic for debate.

As we all know that the crypto market is governed by blockchain technology and thus people are so confused when it comes to supporting hard forks. Let’s take an example for a better understanding.

We all know that Bitcoin has been the most trusted and one of the oldest cryptocurrencies in the market and if we want to update its efficiency, or fix some major bugs in the Bitcoin Blockchain, we might be introducing a hard fork and splitting the blocks which will then act as a separate chain in the Bitcoin protocol.

This process of changing the protocol and splitting a block in such a way that it acts as two separate chains is what raises many questions.

Some of the most popular questions which come to the mind of individuals are answered below.

1: If we update the hard fork and accept it, it will change the protocol. Now, what will happen to our coins?

Ans- Assume that you have somewhere close to 2 Bitcoins before the bitcoin hard forks was introduced. Now, when you update the Bitcoin protocol, you will still have the 2 Bitcoins plus, you will also get the same amount of the other coin in the separated chain.

This goes not only for bitcoin, but even Ethereum hard forks work the same way.

2: If everyone has double the number of coins they own. What will happen to the price?

Ans- We all know that the crypto market depends on the supply and demand procedure; thus, when the two separate chains are formed after the hard fork, the coin's pricing depends on whether the market believes that the two coins will survive or not.

3: When the blocks of a cryptocurrency split, what happens to their original name?

Ans- Yes, both the separate chains originate from the same user base and share the same past, but they are not the same anymore, they act as separate chains and thus, they have different names. There are investors in the market who consider the name of a cryptocurrency as a brand and thus, names play a key role.

In the separation of Bitcoin the newer chain had to find a new name because the old blockchain decided to continue with the name Bitcoin while it was just the opposite in the case of Ethereum. The older version of the Ethereum Blockchain is known as Ethereum Classic.


To sum it all up, there are two kinds of forks in blockchain which help to update major and minor bugs i.e. soft fork and hard fork in blockchain technology. If the update is backwards compatible and works with the older version of the protocol as well, it will be then known as a Soft Fork but if the update is not backwards compatible and aims to split the blocks into separate chains, it is then known as a hard fork.