There’s been a lot of discussion of soft forks and hard forks lately. I’ve found a lot of misunderstanding between the two so I thought I’d write out the differences between the two.


What are the barriers to implementing a soft and hard fork?

Soft Fork

  • Works at the network level
  • Requires 51% of mining hash power
  • Does not require nodes, exchanges, or users to upgrade

Hard Fork

  • Works at the protocol level
  • Hashpower is irrelevant
  • Nodes, exchanges, and users must all upgrade

Network Splits

One of the biggest concerns is a “network split” where users cannot safely transact with each other because they are referrincing different forks.

Soft Fork

  • Will not cause a network split. Users, nodes, and exchanges can be sure they are transacting safely
  • Miners may find themselves mining on the “non-forked chain” thus wasting hashpower

Hard Fork

  • Nodes, exchanges, users, and miners, who fail to fork will be split from the rest of the network

The DAO Fund Retreival

Soft Fork

  • Can lock funds in contract
  • Cannot retreive funds already in attacker’s child DAO
  • Can be used as bargaining chip to get attacker to return funds
  • Attacker can try and bribe miners to reject the soft fork

Hard Fork

  • Can fully return funds, with our without attacker’s consent


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