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Many people do not want to understand the subject of cryptocurrency, because they think it is very difficult, and to understand how everything works, it is necessary to spend a lot of time. Indeed, for an unprepared person, some terms may seem very complicated: blockchain, hard fork, soft fork, etc. Of course, if you want to learn how to code, create algorithms or new cryptocurrencies, then you need to get a profile education, which will take more than one year. But if your goal is a trivial desire to understand the basics, then you will need to read just a couple dozen guides, which, by the way, you can find on our website.

In this material, we will tell you in simple words how hard fork differs from soft fork, and also recall the main Bitcoin hard forks.

1. What is soft fork?

Soft fork is the process of software updating or changing the code of a particular cryptocurrency. When conducting softfork, there is no need for a total replacement of computer software that ensures the operability of the coin network. All innovations that are made during the soft fork have full compatibility with older versions of the network. This means that if the coin creators want to cancel this update, they can do it without any problems.

To make it clear for an ordinary person who does not understand the nuances of the blockchain’s work, let us draw an analogy with the denomination of the ruble of the Russian Federation. In 1998, the Central Bank of the Russian Federation artificially raised the rate of the national currency in 1000 times. But after that, old-style banknotes were still in use for some time. If the Central Bank specialists considered this experiment unsuccessful, they could have easily canceled it and returned the previous exchange rate of the ruble.

Basically, soft fork is conducted because of the need to improve the network, as well as the liquidation of detected errors. During these updates, there is no change in the basic principles of the network.

2. What is hard fork?

Cryptocurrency hard fork is a cardinal change of the blockchain network code, which implies the lack of compatibility with older software. Roughly speaking, in the process of carrying out hard fork, a completely new cryptocurrency is being created, which cannot work with the old version within the same network. After hard fork, an alternative blockchain is created and it works on a completely different principle.

To simplify the process of understanding the above information, let’s also give an analogy from real life. Most people know that the euro currency has now been entered as legal tender in the European Union. Its introduction began in 1999. In the process of development, the euro has stopped to depend on the franc or dychmark and has become an absolutely independent currency.

The main reasons why developers spend cryptocurrency hard fork:

  • implementation of improvements that require major changes;
  • elimination of major bugs;
  • a desire to create a new cryptocurrency based on an already working product.

The main hard fork meaning is to create a separate blockchain, which will have its own miners.

3. The main hard forks of the first cryptocurrency Bitcoin

Hard forks in Bitcoin happen much more often than in any other cryptocurrency. Now let’s talk about the main forks what happened in Bitcoin network lately.

Bitcoin TX. This project is noticeable by only the fact it was the first hard fork in the Bitcoins network. The development team led by Mike Hearn held this hard fork in August 2015. The principal difference between the new project and the original Bitcoin was an increased block size (up to 8Mb). This solution would increase the capacity of the blockchain to 24 transactions per second. For the further development of Bitcoin XT, it had to be supported by ¾ of all the miners of the original Bitcoin network. But in fact, the first hardfork got support of only 12% miners. For this reason, the project was forgotten over time, and its network became incapable.

Bitcoin Classic. The developers of this project took into account the Bitcoin XT errors and decided to smoothly increase the block size: initially increase it to 2 MB, and only after 24 months – double it to 4 MB. It occurred in January 2016. But, unfortunately, this hard fork also failed. The reason was all the same low support from the miners. Officially, the project was closed in November 2017.

Bitcoin Cash. As of today, it is the most successful and popular Bitcoin hard fork. It is the only BTC fork, which not only got, but also stayed for a long time in the list of TOP-10 cryptocurrency projects. It was initiated in August 2017. The main advantages of this project over the original BTC are: increased capacity, low commissions. Subsequently, Bitcoin Cash had its own hard fork (November 15, 2018), which slightly weakened its position, but the project is not forgotten and continues to develop.

4. Conclusion

Briefly and in simple words, hard fork definition is a large-scale update of an existing cryptocurrency, in the process of which a new coin appears. Soft fork can be compared with a planned software update, which does not imply the emergence of a new cryptocurrency.

If to look at the history of Bitcoin hard forks, it appears, that no project has even managed to come close to BTC, so far. At the moment, the only more or less successful project is Bitcoin Cash, but developers need to put much efforts to help their brainchild to compete to its older brother.

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