The world of finance is undergoing a major transformation after the introduction of cryptocurrencies. Initially, there was only Bitcoin, which functioned as a decentralized digital alternative to cash. Over time, many specialized currencies came into being such as Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Ethereum, Ripple, and Monero. Many of these cryptocurrencies came into existence as a result of a blockchain fork. A fork in blockchain technology takes place when the developers of a cryptocurrency decide to change something fundamental about it. Blockchain forking, in today’s time, has become a boon to the financial world due to the solutions that it provides to simplify cryptocurrencies and scalability.
Forking helps ensure large transactions are completed quickly without attracting additional fees for miners. Forking in blockchain is essentially a divergence that can either be permanent or temporary. It happens when a blockchain splits into two branches. This can result from a change in the consensus algorithm or any other changes (minor or major) in the blockchain software. Forking, therefore, is an integral part of the blockchain architecture mainly because of blockchain’s decentralized nature, in addition to the need to establish systematic trust among various participants.
If your interest lies in this captivating world of cryptocurrencies and you live and breathe this domain, then there couldn’t be a better place for you to land in. This blog lists all the aspects of a blockchain forking such as the types of forks in blockchain and how do forks in blockchain work. Read along and you never know, your interest might ignite into considering a job in this domain.
What Is a Blockchain Fork?
A fork may sound like a complex term, but in technology lingo, it is a word used to describe anything that is cutting off or diverging from existing software or code. Gradually, however, the term has come to have a much broader meaning.
As such, a blockchain fork refers to what happens when a blockchain diverges into a change in protocol or two potential paths forward. It also refers to the situation that results when two or more blocks have the same block height.
More importantly, you must note that forking in blockchain points to a situation where a token project or cryptocurrency needs to make technical updates to its code. The subsequent updates are either applied to completely change the scope of the original project or to the backend of a project with no significant changes.
How Do Forks in Blockchain Work?
Forking in blockchain shifts the already existing rules and moves them towards a new set of pre-determined rules. These defined rules can either be supported by all, none, or some of the participants in the network, but their conditions and situations are unique in every case. These rules must be identified by the nodes running on any given network. If the node decides not to refer to the changes in rules, it is allowed, but that decision has several consequences as well.
Types of Forks in Blockchain
- Hard Fork
A hard fork in blockchain refers to a non-backward compatible upgrade to an already existing blockchain. This points to all the network nodes on a certain blockchain either complying with the fork and software protocol update or proceeding with the same outdated protocol by creating another separate blockchain entity. One famous example of a hard fork is Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash.
- Soft Fork
In simple terms, a soft fork is a backwards-compatible upgrade in which the upgraded nodes can communicate with the non-upgraded nodes. In a soft fork, every new rule added does not clash with the existing ones. Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains use soft forks for the implementation of new updates, and all these published upgrades are backwards compatible. Sometimes, a soft fork also occurs due to a temporary deviation in the blockchain when miners use non-upgraded nodes and violate a new consensus rule which is unfamiliar to their nodes. This is quite a rare scenario though, and the occurrence of such an event is very unlikely.
What Happens When the Blockchain Forks?
In a hard fork, any changes made on utilizing nodes that run on the previous set of rules will be invalid. This means that if an old node decides to both make and verify a block, it ends up being considered invalid. Therefore, all changes that happen during a hard fork cannot be changed or deleted after the fork is completed.
Whereas, in a soft fork, if an old node decides to make and verify a block, it ends up being considered valid by all other nodes on the network, irrespective of it being new or old.
The domain of blockchain is sparking interest amongst many professionals as a great career choice. A certified blockchain expert has a large demand in the market nowadays. The number of positions for the role of a blockchain expert has grown more than fivefold in the past few years. According to Hired, there was an increase in demand for software engineers who are hands-on with blockchain skills.  Moreover, blockchain job openings rank 3rd across the globe as per the Hired survey.  In short, this is the best time to pursue a career in this domain as demand is ever increasing.
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