Beginner’s Guide To Testnets: Blockchains On The Testnets & Mainnets



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Blockchain technology can revolutionize various industries by providing secure, decentralized, and transparent systems for transactions and data storage. The technology has grown rapidly since the release of Bitcoin in 2009. Blockchain technology has advanced significantly in recent years, and testnet and mainnet apps are at the center of this progress.

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Testnet (test network) and mainnet (main network) are two significant concepts in the blockchain ecosystem that describe different phases in a blockchain network.

A blockchain network’s mainnet is its actual, live version, which is used for real transactions and stores blockchain data for public use. The testnet, on the other hand, offers an alternative environment that imitates the functionality of the mainnet to enable developers to build and test products without needing to support live transactions.

While a testnet offers a secure setting for testing and development, the mainnet serves as the foundation of the blockchain ecosystem and is where the actual value is stored and exchanged. This fundamental difference allows developers to test their applications and smart contracts with confidence and guarantee the efficient operation of the network on the mainnet.

As a result, understanding their distinction is critical for everyone working in the blockchain space. The key difference between the two environments will be covered in this article, alongside their significance, functionality, and use cases.

What is a Testnet

Let’s delve deeper into testnet and understand how the environment works.

Testnet Definition

A testnet is a blockchain network created for testing purposes. It is similar to the mainnet or production network. However, it is used by developers to test and experiment with new features and applications without risking real assets or compromising the stability of the main network.

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Testnets are essential for blockchain development because they allow developers to test smart contracts, transactions, and other functionalities in a simulated environment without using real cryptocurrency or creating real-world consequences. This will enable developers to find and fix any bugs or security issues before launching on the main network.

Testnets are usually set up using similar code and protocols as the main network but with a lower difficulty level for mining or staking and with test tokens or coins that can be obtained for free. Different blockchain networks like Ethereum, Bitcoin, and Cardano have various testnets, each with unique features and limitations.

Purpose and Benefits of Testnet

A testnet’s primary purpose is to provide developers and users with a sandbox environment where they can test new features, smart contracts, and other applications. The benefits of a testnet include the following:

Safe testing: Testnets provide a safe environment for developers to experiment with new blockchain features and applications without risking real money or assets.

Real-world simulation: Testnets simulate the real-world conditions of the mainnet. This allows developers to test their applications’ performance and scalability in a realistic environment.

Community feedback: Testnets provide a platform for developers to receive feedback from the community, enabling them to improve their products before launching them on the mainnet.

Network stability: Testing on a separate network allows developers to identify and fix potential bugs and vulnerabilities, improving the blockchain network’s stability and security.

Early adoption: Testnets also allow early adopters to get a feel of new blockchain features and applications, helping to promote their adoption and use on the mainnet.

Examples of Testnet Projects

Here are some examples of testnet projects:

1. Ethereum Testnet

Ethereum has multiple testnets that enable developers to test and experiment with smart contracts and other dApps before deploying them on the mainnet. The most popular Ethereum testnets are:

Ropsten: Ropsten is the longest-running Ethereum testnet. Ropsten uses a proof-of-work (PoW) consensus algorithm, much like Ethereum’s mainnet before it switched to proof-of-stake (PoS).

Rinkeby: Rinkeby is another popular Ethereum testnet that uses the PoA (Proof-of-Authority) consensus algorithm. The testing environment is designed to be low-cost and low-stress for developers to test their dApps and smart contracts.

Kovan: Kovan is a popular testnet that uses the PoA consensus algorithm. It is known for its high level of security and stability and is often used for testing Ethereum-based dApps and other applications.

Goerli: Goerli is a newer Ethereum testnet that uses PoA consensus algorithm. Goerli is designed to be a fast and reliable test environment for developers to experiment with their dApps and smart contracts. In addition, Goerli was created to address some of the issues with the previous testnets, such as spam attacks and security vulnerabilities.

2. Cardano Testnet

The Cardano blockchain provides a secure, sustainable, and scalable infrastructure for dApps. Cardano’s test network called the Cardano Testnet, allows developers and users to test their applications and experiments before deploying them on the main Cardano network.

The Cardano testnet operates on a separate blockchain with its own rules and features similar to the main Cardano network. The Cardano Testnet features the native ADA test token, enabling developers to test applications and transactions without using real ADA tokens.

To use the Cardano Testnet, you must download a Cardano wallet that supports the test network, such as Daedalus or Yoroi. You can then connect to the Cardano Testnet and generate ADA tokens for testing.

3. Venom Testnet

Venom is a blockchain that supports the development and execution of smart contracts. Like most existing blockchains, Venom will potentially launch on the testnet before going live on the mainnet. Some of the goals Venom will aim to achieve with its testnet launch include the following:

Test the network’s functionalities in a controlled environment to identify bugs, security vulnerabilities, and other challenges that must be addressed before launching the mainnet.Gather user, tester, and developer feedback to help improve the project’s features and functionalities.Test new features and functionalities before integrating them into the mainnet, ensuring that the features work as intended without issues that could negatively impact the mainnet.Build a community of developers and users who can contribute to the project.

How to use a Testnet

Using testnet is a great way to learn and experiment with new features and applications without real-world risks. Here are some general steps on how to use testnet:

Choose a cryptocurrency with a testnet version: Not all cryptos have a testnet version, so ensure your preferred crypto has an available testnet.Download and install a wallet that supports the testnet: A wallet is a software program that stores, sends, and receives digital assets. Your preferred wallet should support the testnet version of your preferred cryptocurrency. You can find a list of wallets that support testnet on the cryptocurrency’s official website.Obtain testnet coins: Unlike the main network, testnet coins have no real-world value and can be obtained for free from various sources. Some cryptocurrencies have a faucet that distributes testnet coins, while others require you to contact their developers or community for testnet coins.Start experimenting: Once you have the wallet set up and testnet coins in your account, you can start experimenting with the features and applications on the testnet. You can send and receive testnet currencies, test smart contracts, etc.

What is a Mainnet?

Here are critical things to know about mainnet:

Mainnet Definition

Mainnet refers to the main blockchain network of a cryptocurrency or blockchain-based project. It is the primary network where the transactions of the cryptocurrency or the project take place. A mainnet is the live version of the blockchain network where nodes validate transactions, execute smart contracts, and maintain the blockchain ledger.

Before a blockchain project launches its mainnet, it typically undergoes a testing and development period on a testnet or a simulated network environment. Once the developers and community are satisfied with the testnet’s performance and security, the project launches its mainnet, the blockchain’s official version.

Significance of Launching a Mainnet

Launching a mainnet is a significant milestone for a blockchain project. It signals the transition from a theoretical concept to a functional and operational network that users and developers can use. Once a mainnet is launched, the project’s native cryptocurrency can be traded and used for transactions on the network.

Examples of Mainnet Projects

There are many examples of blockchain-based projects that have launched their mainnets. Here are a few:

Bitcoin: Bitcoin is the first and most well-known cryptocurrency, and its mainnet was launched in 2009.Ethereum: The Ethereum blockchain enables the creation of dApps and smart contracts. Its mainnet was launched in 2015.Chainlink: A decentralized oracle network that provides secure and reliable data feeds to smart contracts. Its mainnet was launched in 2019.Cardano: A third-generation blockchain that aims to provide a more efficient and secure platform for decentralized applications. Its mainnet was launched in 2017.Polkadot: Polkadot is a blockchain platform that enables interoperability between different blockchains. Its mainnet was launched in 2020.Solana: Solana is a high-performance blockchain with a unique consensus mechanism called Proof of History (PoH) that guarantees high transaction throughput. Its mainnet was launched in 2020.

Challenges of a Mainnet Launch

Launching a mainnet can be a complex and challenging process for blockchain projects. Here are some of the main challenges that developers and teams face:

Technical challenges: Developing a blockchain network requires significant technical expertise and resources. Bugs, vulnerabilities, and other technical issues can arise during the development and testing phases, which can delay or derail the mainnet launch.Security challenges: A blockchain network is only as secure as its code and infrastructure. Hackers and other bad actors are constantly looking for vulnerabilities to exploit. As a result, a security breach can have devastating consequences for the project and its users.Scalability concerns: A mainnet launch typically involves a significant increase in the number of transactions and users on the network. Ensuring the network can handle this increased demand while maintaining performance and security is a significant challenge.Community adoption: A blockchain project’s success depends on community adoption and participation. Launching a mainnet requires building a solid community of developers, users, and stakeholders who are invested in the project’s success.Regulatory challenges: The regulatory landscape for blockchain and cryptocurrency is complex and constantly evolving. Ensuring compliance with local laws and regulations while staying decentralized can be a significant challenge for blockchain projects, particularly as they expand to new markets.

How to use Mainnet

Users looking to participate in a blockchain’s mainnet generally need to follow these steps:

Choose a wallet: Choose a wallet that supports your preferred blockchain. Choose a reputable wallet provider and take the necessary precautions to secure your wallet.

Get some cryptocurrency: To use the mainnet, you typically need a cryptocurrency compatible with your preferred blockchain. You can buy the crypto on an exchange or receive it from someone who already has it.

Connect to the mainnet: Once you have a wallet and some cryptocurrency, you need to connect to the mainnet. This can be done by changing the settings in your wallet or using a dedicated software client.

Send and receive money: Once connected to the mainnet, you can send and receive funds on the blockchain. You can send cryptocurrency to other users using their wallet addresses and receive it by sharing your wallet address.

It is worth noting that each blockchain may have unique requirements and steps for using its mainnet. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to conduct research and follow the official documentation the blockchain developers provide.

Differences between Testnets and Mainnets

Testnet and Mainnet are two different networks used in blockchain technology. Here are some of the main differences between Testnet and Mainnet:

Consensus Mechanisms

A testnet uses a less resource-intensive consensus mechanism than the mainnet to enable faster and cheaper transactions. Mainnet’s consensus mechanism is more complex and resource-intensive to guarantee the network’s security and decentralization.


Mainnet is more secure than Testnet because it uses real cryptocurrency, and the cost of attacking the network is much higher. Testnet is more vulnerable to attacks and may be reset or deleted anytime.

Economic Incentives

Mainnet uses economic incentives, like transaction fees, mining, or staking rewards, to incentivize network participants to maintain the network’s security and integrity. Economic incentives are not present on the testnets because they are used only for testing and do not involve real money or assets.

Furthermore, testnets typically use a replica of the cryptocurrency on the mainnet. This is to prevent developers from accidentally spending real cryptocurrency while testing.

Transaction Speeds

Testnet transactions can be processed faster than mainnet transactions because there is less traffic on the network. Mainnet transactions may take longer to process because they are subject to network congestion.


Since testnet is just used for testing and does not involve real money or assets, it typically has a more centralized governance approach. Mainnet has a more decentralized governance structure to ensure network users make decisions while enhancing security and transparency.

Overall, Testnet is a valuable tool for developers to test and experiment with blockchain technology before deploying their applications to the mainnet. The Mainnet, however, is the network where all actual transactions and operations occur, and users can interact with the blockchain in a secure and stable environment.

Future Outlook for Blockchain Technology on Testnet and Mainnet

Several trends will likely emerge regarding the future outlook for blockchain technology on testnet and mainnet. These include:

Increased adoption of blockchain technology in various industries, including finance, healthcare, supply chain management, and moreDevelopment and implementation of new and improved consensus algorithms that increase transaction speeds and reduce energy consumptionThe emergence of new decentralized applications (dApps) that provide novel solutions to existing problems and expand the use cases for blockchain technologyIntegration of blockchain technology with other emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, to create more advanced and secure systems


The development of blockchain technology involves multiple concepts, and two key concepts are the testnet and mainnet.

The importance of the testnet lies in its ability to help developers identify and fix bugs, vulnerabilities, and other issues before launching the mainnet. This reduces the risks of network failures and protects users’ assets. Additionally, testnets allow developers to experiment with new features and ideas without affecting the mainnet’s stability.

The mainnet, on the other hand, is critical as it is the live network where actual transactions occur, and the success of the blockchain depends on its reliability and security. The launch of the mainnet also marks the beginning of the blockchain’s public use and adoption, leading to its growth and scalability.

Overall, the future looks bright for blockchain technology on both testnet and mainnet as developers continue to push the boundaries of what is possible and new use cases are discovered.

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