What Is Forking And How Does It Affect The Blockchain?
If you look at the above-featured image in the context of the title of this article, you’d find it pretty amusing. Just to make it clear though, forking in blockchain has got nothing to do with actual forks. This image makes a nice pun. But then, what is forking and what does it do?
To answer both these questions, we are going to first understand the basics of a blockchain. Here we are also going to understand why forking is important, how it affects the blockchain, and most importantly, how it affects you as a user.
What is a blockchain?
A blockchain is a type of distributed database that is used to maintain a continuously growing list of records, called blocks. Blocks contain information such as transactions and the links between those transactions. When a block is added to the chain, it is broadcast to all the other nodes on the network, who verify the new block before adding it to their copy of the blockchain. Because the database is decentralized, it is not possible for anyone to tamper with the database.
If tampering is attempted, an alert is sent out to the entire network, and the attempt is automatically detected. The blockchain database is protected in this way so that the information is not subject to manipulation.
What is forking?
Forking is the method of upgrading a blockchain by introducing new features. This results in a sidechain forming from the main chain, which is a part of the main network.
A fork is an action of a blockchain community that means it will duplicate their blockchain and allow users to store their digital assets on both chains. Essentially, it means that users can “split” their assets with one community and “join” them with another.
Types of Forks
Essentially, there are two types of forks, and while both of these forks are essentially upgrades, their effects on the blockchain differ greatly.
A Soft fork is when an upgrade is made to the blockchain, which is compatible with all the previous versions of the blockchain. It is mostly used to apply minor patches or to fix bugs and vulnerabilities in a blockchain. In short, there is no need to split the blockchain. All the changes are updated in parallel to the blocks present in the blockchain and they can bring new features and functionalities to the existing blockchain.
A hard fork can be compared to a firmware update, it changes the entire blockchain entirely. The code changes so much that the changes are not backward compatible. In short, there is a split of the blockchain, and after the split, a new blockchain is formed in the ecosystem for the community. Where the new changes, the rules can be updated. The Ethereum merger is the latest example of this type of hard forking. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, and ethereum 2.0 came from hard forking.
How Does Forking Affect the Users?
Forks can be extremely disruptive to a community. There are frequently competing visions for the future of a cryptocurrency, which can lead to the feeling that traders and miners have no choice but to split up.
A centralized network normally governs by a single authority. On the other side because blockchain is decentralized that means there is no single entity that can rule the system. Big-name networks like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin are controlled by a central authority.
So, whoever controls the network determines how usable the network is. With a decentralized network, like Bitcoin Cash or Ethereum Classic, there’s no central authority controlling the network. Users now have more control over the blockchain because it’s decentralized.
What is the Need for Forking?
Forking allows a network to spread its use outside of the current centralized community and make it more accessible to a larger number of people. Bitcoin has a blockchain that can only be used by those who own Bitcoin. If you own Bitcoin, you can only use Bitcoin. If Bitcoin becomes too expensive, or out-of-reach for many people, then you can fork the blockchain and make a cheaper version of it. So, instead of only being able to use Bitcoin, you can now use a cheaper system that uses similar blockchain technology. This makes it more accessible to a larger number of people.
To summarize a fork is a technological way of changing the blockchain network without changing the people using it. They are also used to introduce patches or to fix bugs in the system that could otherwise be potentially destructive or leave the system vulnerable.
Upgrading something to the technology is the best way to ahead in the market. While the term cryptocurrency refers to money and the financial side of things.
There are many startups who are working really hard to make the use case in the crypto space. We as a startup working on making crypto accessible to each and every human being. We want more people to understand crypto and then start accepting crypto as payment. There are many merchants who are already accepting crypto as payment. You can easily buy products using crypto from many popular websites. So the technology lends itself to an infinitely broader range of use cases, as we’ll see in the future for sure.