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Difference between a hard fork and a soft fork


A soft or a hard fork only happens when the conditions necessary to activate a forking event matures. 

As long as public ledgers remain as they are, forking won't end, helping in one way or another in mass adoption.

Forks can either be because of a needed improvement or a contestation where most users (nodes or validators) are not in agreement.

If this happens, a blockchain hard forks, creating two parallel chains with disciples in each camp. 

A perfect example of a hard fork is when the Bitcoin network split to create Bitcoin Cash. 

Most miners remained in Bitcoin, making it the longest chain with the most hashing power and therefore dominant. 

Any transaction confirmed on the newer chain, due to the divergence, wouldn't be accepted in the older chain. 

Meanwhile, users who shifted resources to Bitcoin Cash enjoyed faster transactions. Their goal was to scale Bitcoin, making it suitable for payment.

A soft fork, on the other side, happens when the community agrees on a fix. 

To implement a soft fork, nodes are required to upgrade their software but without losing backward compatibility. 

Accordingly, a soft forked network will honor new and old rules without compromising the network's security.

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