Before having a delve into the differences between soft forks and hard forks, it is important to revise what the term “fork” means in a blockchain. A blockchain is a compartment of data that comprises transactional steps. Using cryptography, these chains are linked together.
However, the changes in the process and blockchain potential are called a fork.
In the blockchain, a fork can be defined as:
1. A change in protocol.
2. Diversion of the potential path of blockchain.
3. A condition when the same height is attained by two or more blocks.
What Is A Soft Fork?
A soft fork in the blockchain is the change in the software protocol. With a soft fork, only older valid transactions are made invalid. The process is characterized by a backward-compatible software update, as the new blocks are identified as valid blocks by the old nodes.
Sometimes, soft work can occur at the time of temporary divergence in blockchain. As soft forks don’t require nodes for consensus maintenance, they can be formed when there is a violation of a new consensus rule by the miners.
Adoption Of SegWit As An Example Of Soft Forks
The adoption of SegWit is one of the major examples of a soft fork. There has always been a discourse surrounding the best way to increase Bitcoin transaction speed. It takes about ten minutes to mine a Bitcoin transaction in a block, and as such, miners are exploring ways to increase the number of transactions in a block.
In a bid to achieve the proposed solution to the mining speed of Bitcoin, Segregated Witness or SegWit was adopted. This principle is geared at creating free space in each block because it would enable more transactions to be included in a block.
SegWit works with the removal of the public key and signature associated with each transaction. The change here allows the existence of both the new and old formats, just as the old protocol is allowed to be recognized and processed.
What Is A Hard Fork?
Hard forks are critical changes in the way the cryptocurrency and blockchain algorithm works. Changes are not backward compatible in hard forks compared to soft forks. When a cryptocurrency decides to have a hard fork, the older rules and structures become invalid on the day of the switch.
When a hard fork occurs, every user, the nodes being used, and the previously mined blocks would have to be upgraded to remain compatible with the new version of the software. Therefore, users of the old versions will not be able to interact with the uses of thr new versions effectively. A hard fork occurs in cryptocurrency blockchains like Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, etc.
The Rise Of Bitcoin Cash As An Example Of Hard Fork
The separation of Bitcoin Cash from Bitcoin is one of the major examples of the hard fork. With its occurrence in August 2017, the split was a culmination of a fundamental disagreement between the miners.
There are lingering questions about the viability of SegWit as the best means of increasing transactions. So people are not in agreement with SegWit applied ‘fork it’ with the decision to implement another solution. This led to split decisions such that the newer version of the protocol formed the Bitcoin Cash, while the older nodes retain the name, Bitcoin.
Soft Fork Vs. Hard Fork: What Are The Differences?
1. Soft fork is irreversible, while the hard fork is reversible.
2. Soft fork requires a hard fork for its reversible process, while a hard fork does not require a soft fork for its reversible process.
3. Soft fork functions well with the majority of miners, while hard forks every miner to validate new rules.
4. Soft fork is used in the addition of new functions and features to a blockchain, while hard fork changes all the rules of a blockchain.
5. Soft fork is safer than a hard fork, because of the reversible process. process, a soft fork is safer than a hard fork.
Both soft fork and hard fork are important in the crypto space. They are useful to enhance the functions of the blockchain. Considering the improved security and privacy framework in a hard fork, developers and miners tilt their preferences towards it. When it comes to a blockchain modification, a soft fork is equally important in that regard.