How Many Bitcoin Forks Are There? – Acfit academy

what is bitcoin hard fork

After all, block size is a significant talking point within the Bitcoin development community. There are various types of Bitcoin hard forks, each with its own changes and implementations. The blockchain has a long-standing problem with scaling, and its highly unpredictable and sometimes exorbitant transaction fees can annoy even its biggest fans. In other words, any developer with the necessary skills could decide to fork Bitcoin or create a unique copy of Bitcoin . The hard part is getting support from miners, users , and exchanges. The community will often be divided over the issue and the market is generally very volatile, even by cryptocurrency standards. The above example also applies to splits where the entire blockchain is cloned.

Like the forks before it, Bitcoin Unlimited proposed to increase Bitcoin’s block size to solve its scalability issues. However, the reason block sizes can’t be increased indefinitely is the network becomes too big for nodes to download and store.

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On top of all that, Bitcoin Cash supports smart contracts, which enable Bitcoin Cash to work with more advanced protocols and functions not possible on the traditional Bitcoin network. While the smart contracts aren’t as advanced as, say, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash can still have its own decentralized finance applications and advancements.

Not all of them have held their value as well as the original Bitcoin, but some have outperformed it. The two biggest Bitcoin hard forks are Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold, although there are others as well. If you are running the older Bitcoin software, you will no longer be able to interact with users who upgraded to the newer software, and vice versa. This is basically creating two types of currency, but in this case, the currency is not interchangeable. A blockchain is a digitally distributed, decentralized, public ledger that exists across a network. It is most noteworthy in its use with cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

Accidental Hard Forks

And since forks are an integral part of the Bitcoin network’s development, it’s likely that there will be many more to come. Bitcoin was forked to create Bitcoin Cash because the developers of Bitcoin wanted to make some important changes to Bitcoin. The developers of the Bitcoin community could not come to an agreement concerning some of the changes that they wanted to make.

  • The blockchain network then abandons the blocks that are in the shorter chain, referred to as orphaned blocks.
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  • Bitcoin forks are defined variantly as changes in the protocol of the bitcoin network or as the situations that occur “when two or more blocks have the same block height”.
  • In simple terms, a hard fork splits a single cryptocurrency into two and results in the validation of blocks and transactions that were previously invalid, or vice-versa.
  • After all, anyone who chooses not to upgrade their software will eventually be running a dead Bitcoin chain.
  • They are often predicated by large price fluctuations and have proven to be quite controversial in the past.

The UK HMRC does not classify cryptocurrency splits as taxation events. Fearing that the SegWit2x plan would not be fulfilled and seeing the community support SegWit, some big-block supporters decided to fork the Bitcoin blockchain on August 1, 2017. Its supporters did not see the split as the creation of a rival network, but rather as the continuation of Satoshi Nakamoto’s original vision. Hard forks are often seen as dangerous because of the chain split that often occurs. If a split occurs between the miners who secure the network and the nodes that help validate transactions, the network itself becomes less secure and more vulnerable to attacks. Effectively, a hard fork, more often than not, leads to a permanent chain separation, as the old version is no longer compatible with the new version.

What Are Soft Forks?

And if a large number of users are simultaneously willing to tip miners to speed up transactions, then we may end up in a gas-fee war worse than we’ve been already seeing. All participants must upgrade to the new software to continue participating and validating new transactions. Those who didn’t upgrade would be separated from the network and cannot validate the new transactions. This separation results in a permanent divergence of the Blockchain.

what is bitcoin hard fork

In the worst case scenario, a hard fork results in two separate networks. Alternatively, hard forks have overwhelming consensus from network members, and almost every node adopts the changes, resulting in a unified network. The Bitcoin Cash hard fork is arguably the most successful break away from the original network.

Bitcoin Core, for example, is mostly full of ASIC miners, which are specialized chips made exclusively for the SHA-256 hash algorithm. ASICs often run out competition since they are much more costly to operate than traditional GPUs. Though it’s not getting the same attention as EIP-1559, another one of the EIPs included in the London fork is EIP-3554 and its significance cannot be understated. This change in the code paves the way for ethereum 2.0, an upgrade and total overhaul of the system, which has been in the works for years. Hougan argues that because miners are organically linked to the overall value of ethereum, the hope is that they ultimately make up for these losses as the price of ethereum goes up thanks to these protocol changes.

Unintended Hard Forks

But experts tell CNBC that the problem with this logic is that in the next few years, ethereum miners are approaching a cliff that will make them obsolete. In fact, included among Thursday’s upgrades is a stipulation that addresses this very mining Armageddon. Miners can still sell their computing power to the network and hope to earn a reward of newly minted ether, should they win a block. Some have made the argument that the EIP-1559 upgrade will create a sort of deflationary pressure on ethereum, because less supply can lead to a rise in price. But a bigger change fomented by EIP-1559 is a doubling of the block size. “However, this bug makes it desirable to be able to coordinate a hard fork to fix it, since we all want Bitcoin to be able to survive that deadline,” Flores said. A fork such as this can occur for any reason, either to innovate , to repair the damage done by a hack , or simply because consensus could not be built for a soft fork .

what is bitcoin hard fork

Initially, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin proposed a soft fork that would blacklist the attacker’s address and prevent them from moving the funds. At the time, the DAO raised $150 million worth of ETH in one of the earliest crowdfunding efforts in crypto, before the initial coin offering craze of 2017. It was essentially an early iteration of the decentralized governance models DeFi protocols use, wherein token holders vote on the future of the protocol.


If a developer community is hopelessly split and has a contentious relationship, a fork can be a way to allow each group to focus on their vision for the network. A hard fork can also be positive by rolling back transactions from a hacker that stole millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency.

In case of a hard fork, all nodes meant to work in accordance with the new rules need to upgrade their software. If one group of nodes continues to use the old software while the other nodes use the new software, a permanent split can occur. The Bitcoin Cash blockchain was created with an eight MB block size that has since increased to 32 MB. To this day, Bitcoin Cash supporters maintain that its low transaction fees will help it scale and bank the unbanked, believing BTC will be left behind because of its larger transaction fees. There are numerous historical examples of hard forks in the cryptocurrency world and not all of them happened with the Bitcoin blockchain. Here are some of the most popular hard forks in history and how they influenced the industry. This essentially means that a fork is created on the blockchain where one path keeps following its current set of rules, while the second path follows a new set of rules.

Blockchain forks are essentially a split in the blockchain network. The network is an open source software, and the code is freely available. This means that anyone can propose improvements and change the code. The option to experiment on open source software is a fundamental part of cryptocurrencies, and also facilitates software updates to the blockchain. This change will be huge not just for ethereum, but for the wider cryptocurrency community at large.

She has to report $2,500 of ordinary income on her 2018 tax return. That said, if she held BTC in a self-custodied wallet with full access to private keys, she would have had a taxable event on Aug 1, 2017 resulting in only $200 of taxable income.

Hard and soft forks are similar in that when a blockchain rule is changed, the old version remains in the network while the new one is also present. For instance, the proposal to hard fork Bitcoin in 2017 in order to increase its block size from 1 MB to 8 MB for faster and more transactions was met by strict opposition from the majority of the community. The hard forking breaks the forward compatibility of crypto-assets. Hard forks can result accidentally from bugs/errors in the blockchain or be done intentionally . A hard fork is a rule change such that the software validating according to the old rules will see the blocks produced according to the new rules as invalid.

what is bitcoin hard fork

With Bitcoin Unlimited, developers planned for a sixteen megabyte block size. On top of that, it also aimed to provide miners with the ability to customize their block sizes. While this ideal was a little more novel than other forks, it wasn’t enough to generate Bitcoin Hard Fork a dedicated following. The project still has a smaller team of committed developers, but that’s about it. While Bitcoin XT failed as a long-standing fork, there were other Bitcoin-focused developers that wanted to increase block sizes regardless.

The decision to split came after a disagreement of the proposed upgrade by Bitcoin Cash BCHUSD, -0.30%developer Amaury Sechet that added a minor change to transaction ordering. We will endeavour to notify clients of potential blockchain forks. However, it’s ultimately our clients’ responsibility to ensure they find out when these might occur. This would be at our absolute discretion and we will have no obligation to do so. We will notify clients of any actions we will take or have taken. Bitcoin Gold differs from other networks in the way its proof-of-work consensus algorithm works. Thanks to the Equihash hashing algorithm, Bitcoin Gold is easier to mine with GPUs than cryptocurrencies on other networks.

A little after 8AM ET today, Bitcoin was split into Bitcoin Cash, an alternative cryptocurrency, in a chain split that had been anticipated for months. The split, called a “hard fork,” comes out of a bitcoin group’s desire to combat high transaction fees and a bitcoin size limit that made mining larger blocks invalid. Once that block is verified, users and nodes connected to the network need to update their client to abide by the new rules. Older clients will no longer work with that method, and therefore will continue to verify the other chain from the hard fork. Often, a hard fork takes place when the community cannot fully agree upon something like a consensus method or other major factor.

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Tensions rose as the attacker said they would thwart soft fork attempts by bribing ETH miners with the funds. The Bitcoin Cash hard fork saw the possibility of a hard fork enter the limelight, and shortly after, numerous other Bitcoin forks were created. That subsequent block dictates which chain becomes the longer one, meaning that the other is abandoned to maintain consensus. Miners move on to the longest chain since the abandoned one is no longer be profitable for mining Bitcoin on, as they would be mining a fork of the network. The different hard forks of Bitcoin have wildly varied pricing and different goals.

Is a hard fork good for Crypto?

Forks may be initiated by developers or members of a crypto community who grow dissatisfied with functionalities offered by existing blockchain implementations. They may also emerge as a way to crowdsource funding for new technology projects or cryptocurrency offerings. A hard fork can be contrasted with a soft fork.

There are often competing visions for the future of a cryptocurrency and this can lead to a point where traders and miners feel that they have no choice but to go their separate ways. A majority of the community needs to agree before any fundamental changes can be implemented, or else you risk a hard break. Any nodes that chose not to update will be unable to use the new blockchain.

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When parties are not in agreement, alternative chains may emerge. Short-lived forks are due to the difficulty of reaching fast consensus in a distributed system. To better understand the difference between hard forks and soft forks, it can be thought of as a basic operating system upgrade on a mobile device or a computer. After the upgrade, all the applications on the device will still work with the new version of the operating system.

So when you want to change those rules you need to “fork it”—like a fork in a road—to indicate that there’s been a change in or a diversion to the protocol. The developers can then update all of the software to reflect the new rules. Bitcoin Classic never found direct and high-profile opponents, but it never became fully functional. The main reason why discussions have been dragging on for the second year now is the need to conduct a hard fork, which will temporarily affect the overall security of the network and may result in a split. However, after the appearance of Bitcoin Cash, which produces blocks up to 8 MB, the developers of Bitcoin Classic said that they considered the goal to be achieved. Unlike Bitcoin XT, Bitcoin Classic has been favorably received by the community. It was supported by such mining pools as Antpool , BW.COM,, Genesis Mining,, as well as Coinbase, OKCoin, and Foldapp.

Author: Omkar Godbole

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