What is a Fork (Blockchain)?

A Fork in blockchain is a divergence in the blockchain which occurs when different versions of the protocol software are used to create new blocks by miners. The fork can occur on a single blockchain or multiple chains, and it can be either temporary or permanent. When a fork happens, the blockchain splits into two paths, with each path representing a different set of rules for how transactions are processed. This means that there may be differences between the two chains such as transaction history and balances. It also means that users will need to choose which branch they want to follow in order to continue using their tokens or coins. Forks are usually created as part of an upgrade process, but sometimes they don't go according to plan and could lead to unintended consequences like losses of funds. Therefore, forks should be carefully considered before implementation.

It is important to note that not all forks are created equal - some have more significant impacts than others and can even create new cryptocurrencies or blockchains altogether. For example, a hard fork occurs when the software protocol is completely changed and all users need to upgrade in order to continue using their coins or tokens on the network. On the other hand, a soft fork is based on an existing protocol with just minor changes which do not require a full upgrade of the software. All users who don't update their protocol will still be able to send transactions but may miss out on features available in the updated version of the blockchain. Another type of fork is known as a 51% attack, which occurs when miners gain control of the majority of hash power on a network and can use it to double spend or censor transactions. This is why it is important to have an active, decentralized mining pool in order to prevent attackers from gaining such control.

In summary, a Fork in blockchain refers to any divergence that takes place on the blockchain where two versions of the protocol software are used simultaneously. It could be due to an upgrade process or malicious attack, and its effects range from complete new blockchains being created through to just minor differences between chains. Depending on the type of fork, users may need to upgrade their software in order for them to be able take advantage of all features available.

Simplified Example

A blockchain fork is like a fork in the road. Imagine you are walking on a path and you come to a fork, where you can go left or right. Similarly, a blockchain fork occurs when a blockchain network, like Bitcoin or Ethereum, splits into two different versions. This can happen when there is a disagreement among the network participants about the future direction of the blockchain. It's like when you come to a fork in the road, you have to decide which way to go, and in the same way, the blockchain network has to decide which version to follow.

History of the Term "Fork (Blockchain)"

The origin of the term "fork" in the context of blockchain is somewhat unclear, but it is thought to have originated in the early days of Bitcoin when the cryptocurrency was still in its nascent stages. Around 2010 and 2011, as Bitcoin gained popularity and value, disputes among developers emerged regarding the project's direction. Divergent views surfaced, with some advocating for an increase in Bitcoin block sizes to expedite transaction processing, while others preferred maintaining the original block size to prevent network centralization. This discord ultimately led to the inaugural significant fork in Bitcoin's history, known as the Bitcoin fork of 2013, resulting in the creation of Bitcoin Cash.


Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is an example of a fork in crypto, as it was created after the original Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain underwent a hard fork. This led to the creation of two separate chains: one with the new rules and one with the old rules.

Ethereum Classic (ETC) is another example of a crypto fork, as it was born after Ethereum’s own hard fork. When this happened, two separate blockchains were created; one with the pre-fork version called “Ethereum Classic” and one with the post-fork version called “Ethereum” – both running different versions of their software protocol.

MoneroV (XMV) is the final example of a fork in crypto, as it was created after the Monero (XMR) blockchain underwent its own hard fork. This led to two distinct blockchains: one with the existing rules and one with new rules. MoneroV also implemented a unique way to reward users who owned XMR at the time of their snapshot. All of these forks have their own unique characteristics and are an important part of cryptocurrency development.

  • Blockchain: A decentralized, digital ledger that records transactions across a network of computers.

  • Mining: The process of verifying and adding transactions to a blockchain network.