Cryptocurrency Airdrops and Hard Forks – Definition, Functionality, and Difference

Cryptocurrency Airdrops vs. Hard Forks

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts often seek new opportunities to expand their digital assets and increase their earnings. Two popular methods that grant users free tokens are airdrops and hard forks. Our guide thoroughly examines both worlds to give you a detailed overview of cryptocurrency airdrops and hard forks.

While both offer unique advantages, they operate differently. Therefore, it’s important that you understand these mechanisms to maximize your cryptocurrency investments.

Cryptocurrency Airdrops vs. Hard Forks – The Short Fight

Get the main talking points from our summarized guide:

  • A cryptocurrency airdrop involves the distribution of free tokens to existing crypto holders, often as a promotional activity by project teams or to generate interest in a new coin.
  • To participate in a crypto airdrop, holders must meet specific criteria, like owning a certain amount of an existing cryptocurrency.
  • A cryptocurrency hard fork is a substantial change to a blockchain’s protocol, leading to previously invalid blocks or transactions becoming valid or vice versa.
  • It results in the creation of a new cryptocurrency and divides the network into two separate blockchains, each following different rules.
  • It’s crucial to follow official announcements and guidelines from the projects to ensure eligibility and avoid potential scams or misinformation.

What Are Crypto Airdrops and How Do They Work?

A cryptocurrency airdrop is a strategic marketing maneuver that blockchain projects utilize to distribute free tokens or coins to holders of an existing cryptocurrency. This distribution is often a promotional activity. It aims to engage the existing cryptocurrency community, reward loyal holders, and create initial interest in the cryptocurrency project.

How Cryptocurrency Airdrops Work

Crypto projects initiate airdrops to expand their user base, increase liquidity, or raise awareness about their digital assets. Here’s a detailed breakdown of how airdrops work:

  • Announcement: The project team announces the upcoming airdrop, specifying the criteria holders must meet to participate. These criteria can vary widely, such as holding a certain amount of the existing cryptocurrency, actively engaging in the project’s community, or completing tasks like social media shares or referrals.
  • Eligibility check: Holders interested in participating must meet the stated criteria. For example, if the airdrop requires owning a particular quantity of Ethereum, participants must prove ownership of that amount in their wallet at the time of the snapshot, which identifies eligible addresses.
  • Snapshot: The project takes a snapshot of the existing cryptocurrency’s blockchain at the specified time and date. Consequently, it captures the addresses and balances of the eligible holders. 
  • Token distribution: After the snapshot, the eligible holders receive new tokens or coins based on the recorded balances. Furthermore, distribution methods can vary. Some projects send tokens directly to participants’ wallets, while others require them to claim their coins by interacting with a smart contract or a specific platform.
  • Post-airdrop trading: Users can choose to hold, trade, or sell tokens on various crypto exchanges. However, some airdrops restrict immediate trading to prevent price manipulation. Instead, they encourage participants to hold the tokens for a specified period.
  • Project promotion: Airdrops are a promotional tool, creating initial buzz around the new project. By distributing tokens for free, the project attracts attention and encourages potential investors and users to explore its features, thus enhancing the project’s visibility in the crypto community.

On a similar note, participants must verify the authenticity of airdrop announcements and follow the project’s official channels to avoid falling victim to scams.

Making Passive Income with Airdrops

Passive income through airdrops is possible by participating in various airdrop campaigns, staying updated about upcoming projects, and maintaining a diverse cryptocurrency portfolio. Additionally, engaging with communities and social media channels of potential airdrop projects can provide valuable information about upcoming distributions.


  • Opportunity to acquire new tokens without direct financial investment.
  • Potential for significant gains if airdrop tokens rise in value.
  • Incentive for holders to remain engaged with the project.


  • Risk of receiving tokens from unreliable or fraudulent projects.
  • Tokens may rapidly lose value after the airdrop, leading to losses for holders.

What Are Crypto Hard Forks?

A cryptocurrency hard fork represents a fundamental and intentional alteration to the protocol governing a particular blockchain network. This modification typically involves changing the validation rules within the blockchain, rendering previously invalid blocks or transactions as valid or vice versa.

Consequently, this significant protocol change leads to the creation of a new version of the blockchain, distinct from the original. The result is the existence of two separate and independent blockchains, each following its own set of rules and protocols.

This division often results from substantial disagreements within the cryptocurrency community regarding proposed changes or updates to the blockchain’s fundamental laws. Such contentious debates can revolve around various aspects, such as block size, consensus mechanisms, or transaction fees.

To resolve these disagreements, the community may decide to undergo a hard fork, leading to the split of the existing blockchain into two distinct entities.

How Cryptocurrency Hard Forks Work

Hard forks manifest as a result of divergent opinions within the crypto community, leading to two chains with different rule sets. Here’s a comprehensive overview of how hard forks work:

  • Community disagreement: Disagreements arise within the cryptocurrency community related to fundamental protocol changes, scalability, security, or other aspects that create divisions among developers, miners, and users.
  • Proposal and implementation: A faction within the community proposes significant changes to the existing blockchain’s rules. They can range from altering consensus mechanisms (like transitioning from Proof of Work to Proof of Stake) to modifying block size limits or transaction validation protocols.
  • Network split: If the community remains divided and the proposed changes are substantial, a hard fork occurs at a specific block height or time. At this point, the blockchain splits into two separate chains, each following the rules determined by their respective communities. Nodes and miners must choose which version of the blockchain to support.
  • Token distribution: Existing holders of the original cryptocurrency at the time of the fork usually receive an equivalent amount of the new cryptocurrency created after the split. As a result, it incentivizes existing holders to participate in the new chain, ensuring continuity and value for their investments.
  • Independent development: After the fork, the two blockchains operate independently. They may continue to develop separately, resulting in distinct features, use cases, and market values.
  • Market response: The cryptocurrency market often reacts to hard forks with price fluctuations and increased volatility. Traders and investors assess the potential of the new cryptocurrency, leading to varying market dynamics for both the original and the forked coins.

Example – The Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork

An iconic example of a hard fork occurred in 2017 when Bitcoin Cash (BCH) split from the original Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain. As a result, two separate and distinct cryptocurrencies were formed, each following its own development path and garnering its community of supporters.

Making Passive Income with Hard Forks

Generating passive income through hard forks involves holding cryptocurrencies with established track records and communities. Staying informed about potential forks, understanding the philosophy behind the split, and making informed decisions about supporting the new project can lead to profitable outcomes.


  • Opportunity to receive new tokens in proportion to the amount held in the original cryptocurrency.
  • Potential gains if the new coin gains significant market value.
  • Chance to support a blockchain version that aligns with personal beliefs or preferences.


  • Market volatility can lead to unpredictable price movements for original and new cryptocurrencies.
  • Potential confusion regarding the new coin’s value and utility.
  • Risks associated with new, untested projects, which may not succeed in the market.

Cryptocurrency Airdrops and Hard Forks – FAQs

Learn more about cryptocurrency airdrops and hard forks.

How do I participate in a cryptocurrency airdrop?

Can I sell cryptocurrency airdrop and hard-fork tokens immediately?

Are there risks in participating in cryptocurrency airdrops and hard forks?

How can I stay updated about upcoming cryptocurrency airdrops and hard forks?

Can I participate in both a cryptocurrency airdrop and a hard fork of the same blockchain?

Concluding the Cryptocurrency Airdrops and Hard Forks Guide

Cryptocurrency airdrops and hard forks present unique opportunities for cryptocurrency enthusiasts to expand their portfolios and potentially earn passive income. However, staying informed, conducting thorough research, and being cautious about participating in new projects are essential practices to navigate these opportunities successfully.

Please note that cryptocurrency investments carry inherent risks. Therefore, it’s essential to conduct thorough research and seek professional advice before engaging in any financial transactions.

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