Blockchains and smart contracts must be impervious to hacks.
A report from ImmuneFi found that 3.7 BILLION USD was lost due to hacks in 2022.
This all could have been avoided if developers spent more time on quality assurance in a testnet phase before launching mainnet.
A testnet is a network used by developers to test their blockchain or cryptocurrency applications without using real tokens or real-world transactions. Testnets are designed to mimic the functionalities of the mainnet, but with some important differences, such as using test tokens that have no real value, shorter block times, and reduced mining difficulty. Testnets allow developers to experiment and test their applications in a safe and controlled environment before deploying them to the mainnet.
On the other hand, a mainnet is the live and operational version of a blockchain or cryptocurrency network. It is the network where real tokens are used for transactions and real-world applications are deployed. The mainnet is the ultimate goal for developers, as it is the network that will be used by real users and where real value will be transferred.
Both mainnet and testnet play an important role in blockchain development. Mainnets signify the maturity of the projects as they represent viable products ready for public use.
Yet, it’s worth highlighting the importance of test networks, too.
In contrast to traditional development processes, blockchain projects are usually devoid of central control units where developers can easily fix bugs and patch vulnerabilities.
Testnets enable testing the pieces of code in a safe environment without risking real funds. They help project teams to reveal potential bugs before the launch and increase the engagement of their communities. All-in-all, testnets are just as important as mainnets and play a crucial role in blockchain development.
A testnet, or a test network, is an experimental replica of a live blockchain. With its help, one can create, test, and modify different features without affecting the actual blockchain.
In fact, it represents a sandbox environment for testing new features in a risk-free manner with the final goal of finding the most stable version of a separate feature or the whole product.
A test network is a great solution for locating and fixing bugs that can have a negative effect on decentralized applications at later stages. At this, it is particularly useful for developers, testers, security auditors, and other specialists engaged with blockchain development.
Although a testnet is almost an identical copy of a live mainnet, there are still some core aspects that make it different. Thus, it comes with the following key features:
Ethereum features the following testnets:
All other popular blockchains like Solana and Binance Smart Chain have their own versions of testnets as well.
Immutability is one of the key distinctive features of blockchain. In practice, it means that it is impossible to change the code once it goes live on the network. Thus, if the code contains bugs, it will be practically impossible to fix them. At the same time, when discovered by hackers, these bugs can result in severe money losses.
Workarounds for this problem exist, of course, but in most cases, they are quite complicated.
The key use cases of testnets include the following options:
A main network, or mainnet for short, is a fully developed and functional platform. On the mainnet, users can interact with each other, send and receive tokens and exchange real value.
The mainnet records all transactions, verifies their authenticity and broadcasts them to the distributed ledger. At this, transactions bear real value while the mainnet itself signifies the maturity of the project.
As a fully functional blockchain, a mainnet comes with the following features:
For example, Ethereum's price went steadily upward after the network switched to the proof-of-stake consensus mechanism at the end of November 2020:
CoinMarketCap: ETH price started growing exponentially after the project had reached another major milestone
Ethereum represents one of the most popular mainnets available in the market so far. Other popular solutions include:
Mainnet is a serious step in the development process of any blockchain project. At this, it comes with the following key use cases:
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Kate is a blockchain specialist, enthusiast, and adopter, who loves writing about complex technologies and explaining them in simple words. Kate features regularly for Liquid Loans, plus Cointelegraph, Nomics, Cryptopay, ByBit and more.
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