A hard fork is a protocol upgrade that permanently diverges a blockchain into two chains when nodes do not reach consensus on the new version.

Understanding Hard Forks in Blockchain

A hard fork is a radical change to a network’s protocol that makes previously invalid blocks and transactions valid—or vice-versa—and requires all users to upgrade to the latest version of the protocol software. Here, we explore the intricate details and implications of hard forks in the realm of cryptocurrencies.

What Triggers a Hard Fork?

Notable Real-World Examples

One historic example of a hard fork was the split of the Ethereum blockchain, leading to the creation of Ethereum Classic. This division was a direct response to a significant hack, with the newer chain allowing the original owners to reclaim their stolen assets.

Hard Fork vs. Soft Fork

While both hard forks and soft forks are updates to a blockchain’s protocol, they differ fundamentally. Soft forks maintain compatibility between new and old versions, allowing them to communicate. Hard forks, however, create a clear break—nodes on the new version will not recognize nodes on the old, leading to a permanent split.