The meteoric growth in popularity of Ethereum and smart contract programming boosted the blockchain space beyond cryptocurrency use cases. Many crypto enthusiasts and developers have started exploring the possibilities for developing new decentralized applications. The interesting thing about dApp and smart contract development is the facility of many tools and networks for creating blockchain-based applications. Most beginners come across mainnet and testnet frequently in the blockchain sphere.

In-depth knowledge of the two terms is crucial for pursuing opportunities in decentralized app development, smart contracts, new blockchain networks and crypto tokens. The awareness of difference between testnet and mainnet is a crucial requirement for blockchain developers. Developers could use the two types of blockchain networks for testing, deploying and maintaining seamless functionality of dApps and smart contracts.

The applications of blockchain have moved outside cryptocurrencies, with dApps serving digital transformation in many sectors. For example, DeFi apps have emerged as a significant use case of distributed public digital ledger systems. With almost $90 billion locked in DeFi, it is important to understand the significance of mainnet vs. testnet debate in the broader picture for web3. Let us find out more details about testnet and mainnet in crypto and the notable differences between them. 

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What are Mainnets and Testnets?

The first thing which can help you understand the answers for crypto mainnet vs. testnet comparison is the definition of both terms. As the name implies, the mainnet is the main network or the live version of the blockchain network used for real transactions. On the other hand, testnet or test network refers to a test version of the real blockchain, generally created as a fork of the mainnet. The test network or testnet helps in testing the functionality of dApps and smart contracts before deploying on the mainnet. A comprehensive introduction to both terms and their use cases could offer vital inputs for establishing differences between mainnets and testnets.

Definition of Mainnet 

The search for responses to “What is mainnet and testnet in crypto?” would bring you across a mainnet first. The mainnet is a fully developed and completely functional blockchain network that can register transactions on blocks with a proven consensus mechanism. Mainnet shows all the features for recording, broadcasting and verifying transactions on the distributed ledger. The mainnet is responsible for execution of actual transactions on a blockchain network alongside their documentation for public transparency. 

Importance of a Mainnet

Deployment of applications on mainnet or the mainnet of a new blockchain showcases the confidence of developers in the capabilities of the blockchain. For example, open-source blockchain platforms such as Ethereum and Bitcoin facilitate the assurance of genuine transactions with public verification and benefits of real financial value. 

The common examples of Polygon mainnet vs. testnet and Ethereum mainnet, Aurora mainnet, Binance Smart Chain mainnet and others emphasize the relevance of mainnets. Here are the important pointers which establish the significance of mainnet in crypto and blockchain landscape. 

  • Credibility 

The foremost highlight of the mainnet is the assurance of credibility for a blockchain project. It serves as the main network for actual functioning of a blockchain protocol. Participants can use the network to exchange native blockchain tokens for transactions with each other. The mainnet helps in creating a continuously available network of users, who could facilitate real-time interaction alongside completely transparent transactions. 

  • Verifiable Development 

The overview of Binance smart chain mainnet vs. testnet differences can also reflect on the importance of mainnet for ensuring verifiable development. Deploying a dApp or smart contract on the mainnet provides verifiable proof of the fact that a project has its native blockchain ecosystem. 

The mainnet provides evidence that suggests that the blockchain-based project is active and has been making rapid progress. Live mainnet also indicates that anyone could participate in the network to test the functionality of the blockchain and its different features. Therefore, developing a mainnet requires a significant amount of resources in launching the mainnet. 

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Working of a Mainnet 

The next crucial highlight about a mainnet would point at how it works. You can find a better impression of the mainnet vs. testnet debate by understanding how mainnet works. The mainnet is an independent blockchain that has its own network and protocols. All the transactions on the mainnet are live and utility tokens and cryptocurrencies

Mainnets follow a distinct consensus mechanism, which determines their way of operations. In the case of Proof of Work blockchains, miners participate in validating transactions in return for block rewards. On the other hand, Proof of Stake blockchains involve validators selected randomly from the users with stakes in the mainnet. The validators receive a share of transaction fees from users according to their stake in the network.

Mainnet Use Cases

Another important aspect in understanding the fundamentals of mainnet in crypto would point at its use cases. Here are the most prominent use cases of mainnet in the domain of crypto and blockchain-based projects. 

  • The open-source code of the mainnet after the launch of the blockchain could help in improving trust within the crypto and web3 community.
  • All the projects deployed on mainnet could leverage the benefits of anti-spamming alongside other crucial safety features of blockchain technology
  • The primary highlight of mainnet and testnet comparison would also emphasize the use of mainnet for offering the functionality of blockchain. A live mainnet serves as the gateway for users to sign up for the new blockchain network or project. 
  • The mainnet applications could also provide better prospects for more dApps to join the blockchain ecosystem.
  • Mainnet also serves as a complete blockchain where you can send and receive transactions, including payments and information transparency. The mainnet is essential for exchanging cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

Definition of Testnet

The testnet or test network in crypto is a simulated copy of a mainnet. You can think of the testnet as a prototype for the mainnet ecosystem or an alternative blockchain that offers the same functionalities as the actual blockchain. The crypto mainnet vs. testnet difference reflects profoundly on how testnets are useful for testing new blockchain and web3 projects. Testnet is useful for blockchain security audit professionals, developers and testers for trial verification of new projects. It serves an important role in troubleshooting different highlights of the blockchain-based project. 

The testnet is not a completely developed blockchain and largely serves useful for fixing bugs, code vulnerabilities and other network issues, which could affect the functionalities of blockchain projects. Some examples of testnets include Rinkeby, Goerli, Sapolia, Polyscan and Kiln. 

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Importance of Testnets

The significance of testnets is also an important requirement for understanding a Polygon mainnet vs. testnet comparison. Test networks offer everything you need for a comprehensive trial run of smart contracts and dApps before the final deployment. Developers should try to prevent any unwanted consequences for their protocols and new projects with the effective use of testnets. Here are the important highlights which describe the importance of testnet for blockchain development.         

  • Consistent Development Workflow

The domain of blockchain applications is still in the nascent stages and will take some time to develop. Therefore, the Binance smart chain mainnet vs. testnet debate draws the limelight on testnet capabilities for enabling frequent testing and error analysis. For example, the Ethereum Improvement Proposal, EIP-1559, has been through consecutive trial and error runs on Ethereum testnet before mainnet deployment. 

  • Limited Disruption 

The next significant detail about testnet in the comparison between mainnet and testnet also reflects on the ability to avoid disruption. Testnet could offer a safe environment for developers, security professionals and protocol testers to evaluate the features and functionalities of a blockchain-based project. Testing your applications on the testnet does not create any disruption on the mainnet. 

  • Free Trial 

The process for deploying transactions or smart contracts on the mainnet requires costs in the form of gas fees. You would need tokens on a mainnet for deploying smart contracts or applications. However, testnets could offer tokens without any inherent value. You can use the tokens for developing blockchain apps or evaluate specific features without investing actual money. As a result, testnet can save developers from the massive costs of testing application features on the mainnet.

Working and Use Cases of Testnet

The outline of difference between testnet and mainnet also requires an overview of how testnet works. It is a simulation environment of the mainnet and shares the same functionalities. Transactions on the testnet do not hold any value in the real world. The common use cases of testnet revolve around the flexibility for testing smart contracts and blockchain applications.

Developers can use the testnet to check the presence of bugs in a blockchain project before the public launch. The testnet could help in checking new upgrades and modifications to dApps without higher operating costs of the mainnet. Most important of all, the low transaction frequency associated with a testnet offers a simpler workflow for testers and programmers.

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Differences between Mainnet and Testnet

The answers to “What is mainnet and testnet in crypto?” offered a comprehensive impression of their capabilities. Both of them are crucial requirements in the blockchain and crypto landscape. However, it is important to distinguish one platform from the other based on the following differences. 

  • Objectives 

The foremost pointer for understanding examples such as Polygon mainnet vs. testnet comparisons focuses on their relevant objectives. Blockchain network developers have distinct priorities for building networks. The primary objective of a testnet is to help developers experiment with their blockchain network, dApp or smart contract before making it live. 

Developers could try out new concepts in an environment similar to the real-world deployment of the solutions. On the other hand, mainnet serves important advantages to users with systems for contract designing, dApp development and transactions. Therefore, transactions on the mainnet are inherently secure as the upgrades or modifications could introduce changes in user accounts.

  • Traits 

The comparison between testnet and mainnet would also focus on the differences in their traits. You can find different features and interfaces for accessing the mainnet and testnets. Generally, a mainnet would have a higher frequency of transactions in comparison to a testnet. 

The crypto mainnet vs. testnet comparison would also shed light on possibilities of testnet restricting operations to a few nodes only. It is also important to note that testnets are still in the development stages and have a less seamless interface. The good thing about testnet is that the tokens do not have any monetary value, thereby saving transaction fees.

  • Security 

The differences between testnet and mainnet also reflect the necessity of security on mainnet. You can find variations in the security level according to the concerned blockchain network alongside design of the consensus mechanism. In addition, mainnet offers the advantage of better security as the tokens or cryptocurrency are utilized for real-value storage and transactions. Mainnet follows important standards for encryption, smart contract audits and consensus mechanisms for ensuring security. The testnet leverages the security features of the mainnet, and the overall security depends on scripting of codebase.

  • Mining 

The next difference between mainnet and testnet refers to the scope for mining or creation of new crypto tokens. In the case of mainnet, developers have the opportunity to obtain economic incentives of earning real cryptocurrency. On the other hand, testnets do not offer any economic benefit. 

  • Coins 

The cryptocurrency on mainnet has real value on the blockchain network and can be used to pay for transactions. On the contrary, coins on a testnet are fake. Therefore, transactions on mainnet would require the native tokens, while testnet transactions do not require any fees. 

  • Network IDs

Another significant differentiator in the mainnet vs. testnet debate points to network IDs. Network IDs are important tools for helping developers in identification of a specific network. You can distinguish a mainnet from a testnet on the basis of network ID as Ethereum mainnet has network ID as 1. The testnet for Ethereum, such as Ropsten and Rinkeby, have network IDS 3 and 4. 

Learn the differences between mainnets and testnets in brief with the following table. 

Mainnet vs Testnet


The detailed review of the comparison between testnet and mainnet features, purpose and working shows their individual importance. In the long run, the question of “What is mainnet and testnet in crypto?” can strengthen the foundations of a blockchain and crypto beginner. The use cases of the mainnet and test networks could vary in the context of blockchain development. However, testnet and mainnet are also related to each other. Learn more about mainnet and how testnet is a crucial tool for blockchain and web3 developers right now.

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*Disclaimer: The article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide any investment advice. Claims made in this article do not constitute investment advice and should not be taken as such. 101 Blockchains shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this article. Do your own research!