UPDATE: Fork Abandoned (this time, at least…)
The Segwit2x development team announced that the project would no longer be maintained, and a large proportion of miners have withdrawn their support for the fork. There is still a chance that some miners may still attempt to implement the fork, but its hash power is unlikely to be significant enough for the forked coin to become established.
However, it is unlikely that S2X will be the last attempt to fork the blockchain, so the below advice remains useful…
This guide is intended to help Bitcoin users to secure their coins during the forthcoming hard fork – SegWit2x (S2X) – which is due to activate around November 18th.
We chose to keep ourselves outside of the debate, and instead provide practical, simple information to our readers…
A Quick Overview of the Situation
Back in August, SegWit was activated. This increased the maximum block size to roughly 4MB, in an attempt to speed up the blockchain.
Despite the name SegWit2x (S2X) has very little to do with the earlier SegWit activation. S2X is an attempt to allow block sizes to approach a maximum of 8MB.
SegWit2x will cause a hard fork on block 494,784, which is due around November 18th by current estimates.
Two Steps to Protect your Bitcoin
Precaution #1: Hold Your Keys
This is the most fundamental rule for those holding cryptocurrencies: unless you own your private keys, you don’t own your coins.
This means not storing your Bitcoin and other currencies on exchanges, and is crucially important at times of uncertainty and forks. It is of the utmost importance that you move your coins off of exchanges and into a secure wallet that you own the keys to. This could be a desktop or mobile wallet, or a hardware wallet (perhaps the best option if you have a large amount of coins).
This way, you’re more secure in the face of malpractice from the exchanges, but you’re also keeping your options open: you’ll be able to redeem both coins, whereas exchanges may choose to only support one.
Precaution #2: Don’t Move Your Bitcoin on or Around November 18th
Unlike the fork that created Bitcoin Cash (BCH), the forthcoming SegWit2x hard fork will not support replay protection. When BCH was forked, replay protection prevented people from accidentally spending their coin on both the BTC and BCH chains, and protected them from malicious actors attempting to monitor and copy their transactions across the chains.
The existence of replay protection in Bitcoin Cash showed that the new coin saw itself as just that: something new, and different to, Bitcoin. The lack of it in the SegWit2x fork demonstrates the more competitive atmosphere surrounding the forthcoming hard fork, in which it is likely that both coins will be claiming to be the ‘true’ Bitcoin following the split.
While there is some speculation that replay protection may be implemented at the last moment, we advise our readers to assume it will not be implemented, and to act accordingly. This means not moving your bitcoins on or around the estimated fork date, currently set at November 18th. Attempting to process transactions during this time is risky, and may result in loss of coins through malicious activity, or through technical issues during the forking process.
After the fork, wait a few days to let the dust settle. After a week or so, we should have a clear idea of where the hash power has settled, and which coin is looking like the dominant chain. At this time you can decide which chain you want to support, and act accordingly.