What’s A Blockchain TestNet Vs MainNet: Know The DLT Network Differences
What Is The Difference Between TestNet And MainNet?
The first thing that any new crypto enthusiast, investor, or trader will notice about the crypto space is that it is filled with a number of new terms and expressions. While there is no lack of terms to choose from, this time, we will focus the crypto TestNet and MainNet, exploring their meaning and function, as well as aspects that establish the difference between the two.
TestNet, as the name suggests, is a short term for Test Network. It is designed and created to be an exact replica of the project's real blockchain. It also uses the identical software and technology, and it possesses the same functionalities. What makes it different from the MainNet is that it is a simulated network used for testing. In other words, it is an experimental ‘fake' network where developers can implement new updates and see how the network responds to them.
In a way, TestNets can be viewed as a simulated environment that can be tweaked and modified to provide the best possible outcome, for the network itself, but also products built on the blockchain. TestNets charge no transaction fee, as all transactions are ‘fake' as well. However, they are invaluable to developers as there is no risk of damaging the real blockchain in any way while conducting experiments and researching different possibilities. As a result, the coins on the TestNet are worthless, while the existence of the TestNet itself is priceless.
As mentioned, TestNets have a variety of different use cases. One of them is the ability to constantly develop the blockchain in a safe environment. Since blockchain is still in its infancy stage, there is a lot about it that developers have yet to discover. These discoveries can only be made by constantly making tests and experiments. Issues such as scalability are still bothering most of the older coins, and developers can use TestNets to try and test different solutions.
New dApps are also constantly being created on blockchains that were designed to support them, starting with Ethereum. However, these apps need to be tested and perfected, with developers constantly coming up with new patches, features, and similar additions. However, if this were done on top of the actual blockchain, it would cause significant disruptions which would damage the chain's functionality. This is why this part of the development is done on TestNets, and the actual blockchain receives a finished product later down the line.
Finally, testing is completely free, as the very process of conducting these experiments is made to further the blockchain development
MainNet, on the other hand, is short for Main Network, and it is the real version of the blockchain. This is where actual transactions with real coins take place, and where dApps are launched after the developers create a version of their product that they are satisfied with.
Transactions performed on the MainNet do require participants to pay the fee, which can be done via the network's native token. These fees are used to provide miners with rewards for running the network and validating transactions.
Each project's MainNet is proof that the project itself is functional, and that it has a working blockchain that can be used for making transactions and making payments. When the MainNet goes live, it is also a signal to traders that the project is ready to be used, and available to the public. Due to its importance for the project, the launch of the MainNet requires a large amount of resources, not to mention a long period of development which needs to ensure that everything is functioning properly.
Another big use case for the MainNet is its ability to bring credibility to the project. Considering how much effort and resources are needed to launch it, a project that features a MainNet is much more likely to be trusted, and as a result — invested in. Scammers typically do not bother with developing a MainNet, as is takes work, while they are trying to exploit the crypto space for making quick cash and then disappearing.
Creating a functional network would mean that they are real developers who actually spent time developing the concept and finding a way to make it work. All transactions done on the MainNet are live, and users can send payments to each other. Furthermore, in the case of open-source blockchains, anyone can view the project's code, and anyone knowledgeable enough to notice a potential issue can report it, and contribute to the development of the blockchain.
MainNet vs. TestNet
As we can see, a TestNet and a MainNet are two completely separate networks that can work independently from one another, but they still depend on each other indirectly.
Two things that set them apart from the technical point of view are the Network ID and a Genesis Block. The network ID helps developers identify the network, which makes it easy to immediately realize which network they have joined — a TestNet or a MainNet. As for the Genesis Block, this is the first block of every blockchain, and it represents that blockchain's starting point. Both TestNet and MainNet have their own, although the blocks can be quite similar in some cases.
Another thing to note is that most projects do not develop their own network before starting out. Instead, they use some other project's blockchain to create their tokens. Ethereum is probably the best example of this, and each token developed on its network is based on an ERC-20 token model. Many popular coins, such as TRON (TRX) have started their development on ETH network.
These projects typically develop their token on another coin's network, while at the same time, they are developing their own MainNet. Once the MainNet is completed, the project would perform the token swap, which is what TRON did in mid-2018. This is a process of moving all of the project's coins from the host's network to the native one. Old coins are then discarded, while the new ones are issued on the brand new blockchain.
Typically, the release of a project's MainNet is a big event for that project's community. It is usually followed by a lot of hype, which tends to affect the coin's value in a positive way.
As we have seen, TestNets and MainNets are two networks which are similar in a lot of things but are still completely different in others. They both have their own purpose within their project's ecosystem, and they depend on one another indirectly. TestNet can allow developers to develop the project, fix issues, and do tests and experiments without damaging the actual blockchain, while the MainNet later receives a finished product that brings more attention to the project, and more developers to its TestNet.
As a result, the project grows, becomes more advanced and complex, which brings more quality and attention to it.