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Crypto Terms:  Letter S
Jun 19, 2023 |
updated Apr 02, 2024

What is Soft Fork (Blockchain)?

Soft Fork (Blockchain) Meaning:
Soft Fork (Blockchain) - the modifications made to a blockchain in order to add or remove functionality without initiating any fundamental structural changes.
2 minutes

Let's find out Soft Fork (Blockchain) meaning, definition in crypto, what is Soft Fork (Blockchain), and all other detailed facts.

Soft fork refers to making modifications to a blockchain in order to add or remove functionality without making any fundamental structural changes. 

For nodes that decide to follow the new consensus rules, prior transactions or blocks are made invalid. Though for the nodes that continue to follow the old consensus rules, new transactions and blocks are left valid. Thus, a soft fork is backward-compatible, which distinguishes it from the more well-known hard fork, which terminates forward compatibility for all nodes that follow old consensus rules.

One of the most important aspects of crypto soft forks is that they don't require all miners on the network to agree to run the new code, only the majority of miners need to do that. This enables network upgrades to be completed more quickly and without generating a major schism in the community. 

A soft fork could also be the result of a miner's error if old nodes break new regulations that they are unaware of. A hard fork is the only way to reverse a soft fork.

The blockchains of Bitcoin and Ethereum have used multiple soft forks over the years to upgrade the network, solve faults, or add functionality. This helped them avoid the more contentious hard fork option that requires compelling all miners to agree on new consensus rules, which risks dividing the network. 

An example of a soft fork would be Ethereum’s Metropolis-Byzantium fork which functioned like an operating system upgrade.