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A Hardfork is a change to the bitcoin protocol that requires all users upgrade.

Any alteration to bitcoin which changes the block structure (including block hash), difficulty rules, or increases the set of valid transactions is a hardfork. However, some of these changes can be implemented by having the new transaction appear to older clients as a pay-to-anybody transaction (of a special form), and getting the miners to agree to reject blocks including the pay-to-anybody transaction unless the transaction validates under the new rules. This is how P2SH was added to Bitcoin.

See also: Softfork