Soft Fork

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What Does Soft Fork Mean?

In the world of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, a soft fork is where the cryptocurrency chain experiences a divergence. Specifically, soft forks are contrasted with hard forks, which are more expensive and less easy to resolve.

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Techopedia Explains Soft Fork

There is a lot of abstraction around the actual definition of hard and soft forks.

Both are described in various ways by experts who understand the ways that the bitcoin system works as a largely unregulated, often chaotic and pretty complex financial model. For example, an expert might describe a soft fork as “backward compatible” or suggest that it is a “temporary split” in the cryptocurrency chain. Investopedia describes it as “a change to the software protocol where only previously valid blocks/transactions are made invalid.”

One of the biggest takeaways from all this is that soft forks are easier to resolve in the bitcoin community. Hard forks may cause a permanent split in the chain, where new cryptocurrencies are formed and split off from the main branch. By contrast, soft forks can often be resolved by consensus and will include more cohesive backward-facing activity on the chain.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.