What is MainNet and TestNet?

What are MainNet and TestNet

MainNet and TestNet: The world of decentralized finance (DeFi) works in block chains: decentralized public digital ledger systems, where transactions are recorded in blocks and verified by nodes.

Every day, billions of US dollars change hands in the form of coins and digital tokens on platforms that run on these blockchains. Currently, there is approximately $90 billion dollars locked away in DeFi alone.

Money and assets are exchanged and new platforms, DApps and block chains are released daily.

So imagine if these products were launched on base without ever having been tested under realistic conditions? When issues inevitably arise, millions of individuals can lose money and the entire DeFi sphere can fall into disrepute. For these reasons, there are testnets and mainnets.

What is a Testnet?

which is a Testnet

A testnet is a blockchain testing network that works to run and test blockchains or blockchain projects before they are ready to be released.

It's a simple way for programmers and developers to create, modify and test the functionality of their projects, as well as monitor their performance before making it publicly accessible. Here, developers can troubleshoot any issues and fix any bugs.

In a test environment, multiple tests can be run repeatedly, which allows for a performance comparison and means consistency can be checked.

By running independently to the main network, the tests allow for the complete testing of a project of block chains without interfering with transactions on the main network. This sandbox model allows developers to take risks, experiment, and thus create the best possible model to launch.

As a prototype, a testnet should never be used to transfer anything of value, so testnets use fake money, or worthless tokens, to run their protocols.

Developers will also often use a testnet to build and test their own blockchain and, once satisfied, will release them of their own. Testnets allow for faster and more secure launch of the core network.

What is a Mainnet?

which is a Mainnet

Mainnet is the “core network”, or network, on which a blockchain project is executed.

This is the step that logically comes after completing all the necessary tests in testnet.

A core network consists of a fully deployed network where virtual currency transactions can be efficiently processed, accurately verified and securely recorded.

By deploying a core network, your developers are declaring that they have full confidence in your blockchain's capabilities.

As a fully functional blockchain, core networks can be used to send and receive any transaction, in the form of virtual currencies or non-fungible tokens (NFTs), among others, or to transfer information.

Also, a core network can run a project that requires that specific blockchain protocol, for example, DApps on the core network Ethereum.

Testnet vs. Mainnet: The Main Differences

  • Objective: A testnet is a blockchain test, a sand pit where faults are protected, while the main network is the running blockchain released.

 

  • Cost of operations: tokens in testnets have no value, unlike mainnet tokens that use real assets and crypto currencies.

The cost of operations on a core network is therefore higher. This is because each operation performed on requires a fee, paid in tokens of a certain value — something that testnet does not have.

 

  • network ID: test networks and core networks have different network IDs, which are used to help developers identify the network.

For example, the Ethereum core network ID is 1, while the common Ethereum testers Ropsten, Rinkeby, and Kovan use 3, 4, and 42, respectively.

 

  • Genesis Block: Testnet and mainnets both have their own independent genesis block, that is, the first block in their blockchain.

 

  • We: a testnet will have fewer nodes than a core network, as there is less information to check.

 

  • Transaction frequency: test networks have a lower transaction frequency than core networks, which makes sense as they won't have the large pool of users that a core network has.

 

  • Published code: the main networks will have their underlying code made public once published, as this strengthens users' trust in the chain. Testnets will not publish the code as it is constantly undergoing changes.

Why the Difference Between a Testnet and a Mainnet Matters

Why the Difference Between a Testnet and a Mainnet Matters

Since 2017, with the explosion of cryptocurrency on the financial scene, many individuals have rushed to invest on new blockchains, platforms, DApps and currencies.

Lacking knowledge and fear of missing out on the opportunity, many individuals invested based on a whitepaper alone.

These whitepapers claimed fantastic speeds, high yields and excellent results, however these results had been seen right at the beginning stages and only in a test environment.

As a result, projects that had made such bold claims never progressed to the main stage of the network and instead failed and burned, taking their investors' money with them.

Therefore, it is extremely important to research the projects in which you are looking to invest and understand what stage they are at.

Whether a project is tried and tested should be one of the first indicators to look for, therefore whether the project currently operates a live core network or just a testnet is of utmost importance to any serious investor.

Why are Testnets Important?

Everyone can agree that running tests on any system, especially a financial system, is of paramount importance prior to its release, but why can't these just be run on the core network?

First, running tests on a core network can be very expensive:

You will have to pay blocking fees for every transaction you make, every change, and every time a project is released — which during an experimental phase are multiple and repeated.

This would mean that to test a project efficiently and explore its possible options, incredibly high fees would be charged.

If a problem occurs during an experimental phase on the core network, it could disrupt the entire network, its users' assets and transactions, meaning users could lose their money.

This could be very costly, both for the developers and for the reputation of the crypto currency as a whole.

Second, there is a compatibility issue:

Testnets don't use anything of real value, and instead use “false money” in the form of worthless tokens.

Testnet coins are not compatible with major networks, and vice versa, which means that new coins or methods would need to be mined, resulting in a much longer, more complicated and expensive process.

For this reason, all new projects must first be tested on an independent blockchain with its own genesis block — like a testnet.

In this way, those operating in the crypto currency market can remain absolutely separate from any “trial and error” operation, and developers can be free to test every aspect of the blockchain before its release.

Who are Testnets for?

Testnets can be used by anyone with a project in development who needs testing.

They are simply a way to test a product closer to scale, with no fees and without the risk of interfering with the core network.

Many major networks offer a testing service, as different testers are more similar to different major networks, so developers can choose the one that best suits their needs.

For example, Symbol runs both a core network and a testnet, with testnet being a copy of its own core network structure, while Ethereum's core network is very similar to Ropsten's.

Also, if a developer is looking to build their own blockchain and test it, rather than simply building a DApp or platform, they can also use testnets for that.

Symbol offers its Symbol bootstrap, and if you're building a blockchain similar to Ethereum, developers often use Ganache at trufflesuite.com.

What is a Sidechain?

Another interesting way to try out new ideas or software updates without interfering with the core network is by using sidechains, or as the Ardor platform refers to them, childchains.

These blockchains, as the name suggests, are chains that run on the main blockchain, or parentchain.

They are connected to the main network through a two-way peg mainnet. They are completely independent and in charge of their own security, which means that if there isn't enough mining power to protect the sidechain, it can be hacked.

However, as it is independent, the damage will be contained within this chain, not the main network. In this way it creates a space similar to a testnet.

The main difference, however, is that real goods can be locked and used in a sidechain, whereas in a testnet they cannot. This gives rise to more realistic scenarios and can add an extra layer of testing to a developer's project.

Although sidechains have this testing functionality with additional risk (due to the possibility of capital loss), their main purpose is to add additional functionality to blockchains.

For example, Rootstock (RSK) is a sidechain that was developed with the aim of giving Bitcoin smart capabilities and the ability to make faster payments.

Ardour's blockchain, however, employs its blockchains to add an additional layer of security, conducting checks across them rather than across the core network.

Sidechains allow cryptocurrencies to interact with each other, allowing for flexibility and a contained environment where developers can experiment without creating too much impact.

Summarizing About MainNet and TestNet

Any serious cryptocurrency investor or blockchain developer should understand the difference between a core network and a testnet, and when to use each.

Failure to understand them, or using them incorrectly, can result in loss of capital or damage to a cryptocurrency's reputation.

Also, other possibilities such as sidechains can prove to be a good option for exploring performance or adding functionality to a project.

Therefore, it is important not only to understand the basics, but also to explore new technologies that are continually evolving in the cryptographic space.

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