A hard fork is one of the terms specific to the cryptocurrency world exclusively. It exists when the nodes of an older version of blockchain are not compatible with the newer nodes. This leads to a lasting divergence from the older version of the blockchain. A fork is created on a blockchain network by making an addition of a new rule to the existing code. After this process is executed on the network, one path of the system takes on the new upgrade while the other paths continue with the existing system. Due to the level of technological development in the cryptocurrency space, the nodes are generally aware of these upgrades. As such, in most cases, after operation for a while, the nodes realize they are operating on an outdated version and move to the upgrade on their own.
How Fork Operates.
Generally, forks are known to mostly appear on the Bitcoin network. However, they are not limited to any specific cryptocurrency and can appear on a variety of platforms. The reason for this is because the blockchain networks and the cryptocurrency space have their modes of operations intertwined. Hence, the fork operations are apparent regardless of the specific cryptocurrency. There are essentially two types of forks in the cryptocurrency world; the hard fork and the soft fork. Even though the two are very similar in goals of execution which is the reset of existing code to a newer version. However, they have a major difference. For the soft fork, this execution reduces the validity of the network to just one blockchain. The hard fork on the other hand will allow for the existence of both the old and new blockchain simultaneously.
A blockchain network is essentially blocks doubling as cryptographic keys to the movement of memory. In the networks, the miners are in charge of making the rules which regulate the movements of the memory on the network. However, the system is decentralized which implies that all the rules need to be generally agreed upon by the miners. Therefore when any of the parties involved need to make any changes, they fork it. This forking process is the basis for the naming of the new generation of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold. Generally, for regular investors, it can be somewhat difficult to pinpoint the differences between these cryptocurrencies and to identify the time differences to map the forks. Therefore, in order to overcome this problem, investors have to resort to making projections based on the history of the major Bitcoin forks.
Reasons for hard forks.
There is an exponential rate at which the adoption rate of Bitcoin is growing and its integration in platforms like Bitcoin Prime software. Due to this, there is a need for proper research before the implementation of anything on the system. As such, there are specific reasons why developers would execute a hard fork. For starters, correction of delicate security loops which had been found in the previous version of the system. Other reasons also include for reversal of transactions or for the addition of new functionality. The reversal of a transaction is major in this list because it happened in one of the top cryptocurrencies. The procedure was specifically carried out due to an attack on the Decentralized Autonomous Organisation of the Ethereum network. After the hack attack, there was a unanimous decision on the Ethereum network to execute a hard fork in order to reverse transactions that made off with cryptocurrency running into millions of dollars. The procedure aided the return of stolen eth funds to the parties directly affected.
Considering all the factors that surround the employment and execution of a hard fork on a system, it is mostly to ensure the security of the decentralized system on a wider scale.