What is a Fork in Blockchain?

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum run on blockchain software that’s open and decentralized. Since 2015, over 100 Bitcoin hard forks have taken place. This shows how dynamic this technology is. A fork occurs when the blockchain’s rules change. This leads to a split, creating a new chain that shares the old history but goes its own way.

Forks can be planned to add new features or fix security issues. Or they can happen by accident when miners find a block at the same time. Forks are key to blockchain’s growth and improvement.

Key Takeaways

  • Forks in blockchain allow developers to introduce new features and updates to a blockchain.
  • Hard forks result in a permanent split between the new and old blockchains, leading to the creation of new cryptocurrencies.
  • Soft forks enable a gradual transition to new rules without creating a new blockchain.
  • Blockchain networks may experience strain during a fork, potentially burdening the network’s resources.
  • The security of a blockchain network can be weakened during a fork due to diluted hash power and disagreements among miners and nodes.

Understanding Blockchain Forks

A blockchain fork is a big change in a blockchain’s rules that leads to a new blockchain. This split can happen for many reasons, like adding new features, fixing security issues, or solving disagreements in the crypto community.

Definition and Overview

Forks in blockchain are like software updates for the internet. They change the network’s rules to make it better. A fork means a blockchain splits, creating a new one that has the same history but new rules.

Why Forks Occur

There are several reasons for blockchain forks:

  • Adding new features or functionality to the blockchain protocol
  • Addressing security vulnerabilities or fixing bugs in the existing protocol
  • Resolving disagreements within the community about the cryptocurrency’s future direction

Forks are divided into soft forks and hard forks. Soft forks are changes that work with the old rules, while hard forks make a new, separate cryptocurrency.

“Forks occur when communities make changes to a blockchain’s protocol, leading to the chain splitting and creating a second blockchain that diverges in a new direction.”

Blockchain technology has seen many forks, like Bitcoin Cash from Bitcoin and Ethereum from Ethereum Classic. These forks have changed the direction and security of the cryptocurrencies.

blockchain fork

The blockchain industry is always changing, and forks will keep being a big topic. Knowing about forks helps us understand the fast-changing world of digital currencies and blockchain technology.

Types of Blockchain Forks

Blockchain forks are divided into two main types: accidental or temporary, and intentional. It’s important to know about these forks to stay updated with blockchain technology. This knowledge helps users stay on the right and safe chain.

Accidental or Temporary Forks

Accidental or temporary forks happen when miners find a new block at the same time, causing a split in the blockchain. This is due to a sudden increase in mining activity, resulting in two valid blocks. The blockchain then splits until one chain grows longer and is seen as the correct one by the network.

These forks usually fix quickly as the network agrees on the longer chain. But, they can still cause problems for users and service providers. They don’t create a new cryptocurrency but can affect transaction confirmations and service reliability during the split.

Intentional Forks

Intentional forks are planned updates to the blockchain made by developers or the community. They can be soft forks or hard forks.

  • Soft Forks are updates that work with older software too. New blocks under the new rules are still valid for older software. This lets older software nodes join the network, even if they don’t get new features.
  • Hard Forks change the blockchain in ways that older software can’t handle. This creates a new cryptocurrency or blockchain that’s not compatible with the old one. Nodes with old software can’t join the new network, and a new chain starts.

Intentional forks can be for adding new features, fixing security, or reversing transactions. Knowing the difference between soft and hard forks is key. They affect users, miners, and the blockchain world in different ways.

Type of ForkDescriptionExample
Soft ForkBackward-compatible change to the blockchain protocolBitcoin SegWit (Segregated Witness), activated in August 2017
Hard ForkNon-backward-compatible change to the blockchain protocolEthereum Shapella as part of the Shanghai Upgrade, scheduled for April 2023
Types of Blockchain Forks

Understanding blockchain forks is vital for users, developers, and the crypto community. Knowing the types of forks helps ensure people and groups stay on the right and safe chain. This avoids disruptions or the creation of new cryptocurrencies by mistake.

Fork in Blockchain: Real-World Examples

Blockchain forks have happened in many cryptocurrencies, showing how this tech is always changing. Two big examples are Bitcoin Cash and the split between Ethereum and Ethereum Classic.

Bitcoin Cash and the Bitcoin Hard Fork

In 2017, a hard fork happened in Bitcoin, creating Bitcoin Cash (BCH). This was due to a debate over how to make the network faster and handle more transactions. Some wanted to increase the block size, while others wanted different solutions.

This hard fork led to Bitcoin Cash, with an 8MB block size, bigger than Bitcoin’s 1MB. The goal was to make the network faster and lower fees. Bitcoin Cash now has its own features and roadmap, living alongside the original Bitcoin.

Ethereum and Ethereum Classic Split

In 2016, Ethereum had a big hard fork after a hack stole about $60 million worth of Ether. This was nearly 14% of all Ether at the time.

After the hack, the Ethereum community forked to fix the issue and return the stolen money. But some disagreed, saying it went against the blockchain’s core idea. This led to Ethereum Classic (ETC), sticking to the original Ethereum blockchain.

The split shows how forks can come from disagreements, security issues, or wanting new features. It’s a way to shape the future of cryptocurrencies and blockchain.

bitcoin cash fork

Examples like Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum Classic show how blockchain forks change and grow. They can solve disputes, fix security problems, or add new features. This shapes the future of cryptocurrencies and blockchain.


Blockchain forks are key to the growth of cryptocurrencies, letting the tech get better over time. They can spark debate but help the community fix problems, add new stuff, and settle disputes. With blockchain evolving, we’ll likely see more forks, both planned and unplanned, as the tech grows.

The Ethereum network fork over self-transactions shows how crucial consensus algorithms are in blockchain governance. The proof-of-work consensus protocol is essential in solving forks. It helps decide which chain wins by looking at the proof-of-work each chain has. Location and communication issues can also cause permanent forks in a blockchain network.

Examples like the Bitcoin Cash hard fork and the Ethereum and Ethereum Classic split show how forks can lead to new ecosystems. These events often reflect a community divide, affecting investor feelings and prices. As blockchain keeps evolving, it’s important for everyone to keep an eye on fork events and share their insights with the community.


What is a fork in blockchain?

A fork in blockchain means a change in the blockchain’s rules. This leads to a new blockchain that shares the old history but has new rules.

Why do forks occur in blockchain?

Forks happen for many reasons. They can be to add new features, fix security issues, or settle community disputes on the cryptocurrency’s future.

What are the types of blockchain forks?

Forks are either accidental or intentional. Accidental ones happen when miners find a block at the same time, causing a short split. Intentional forks are planned changes to the blockchain rules.Soft forks are changes that work with the old rules. Hard forks are not compatible and create a new cryptocurrency.

Can you provide examples of real-world blockchain forks?

In 2017, Bitcoin Cash was created from a hard fork of Bitcoin due to disagreements on scaling. In 2016, Ethereum forked after The DAO hack, leading to Ethereum and Ethereum Classic.