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Whenever you learn more about new blockchain projects, you might come across terms like “mainnet” and “testnet”. If you’re new to the blockchain industry, you might think of these terms as complex concepts.

However, these are surprisingly easy to learn about, and you can do so in a few minutes.

Once you learn more about mainnet, testnet, and other relevant terms, you’ll find making cryptocurrency transactions and investments a lot easier.

Let’s take a look at the definitions of mainnet and testnet, and learn the key differences between them.

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What is Mainnet?

Mainnet is the live version of a blockchain, which an everyday user sees and interacts with. The mainnet of every blockchain project relies on smart contracts to execute transactions. Every blockchain has its native token, which acts as the default currency for payments on that blockchain. This blockchain works in the real world and is termed the real blockchain.

What is Testnet?

Every blockchain can be a combination of multiple sub-chains working together. These chains can also work independently from one another while still being a part of the same blockchain ecosystem. Testnet is an alternative blockchain, which can work alongside the mainnet. Testnets are created by blockchain developers to test certain concepts before they’re finalized and implemented on the mainnet.

Testnets imitate mainnets, and can be used by blockchain developers to test new ideas. Once the new feature is found to be useful by the blockchain developer, they can apply it to the mainnet with the help of an upgrade.

Key Differences Between Mainnet and Testnet

Mainnet and Testnet both look alike, but there are a few key differences that differentiate them from one another. Let’s take a look at the key differences between mainnet and testnet.

Key Purpose

Every blockchain developer has a plan when they develop their blockchain. Blockchain developers can create testnets to experiment with new features before they’re implemented on the mainnet. Users can test the testnet features in a virtual environment without risking their assets.

On the other hand, the mainnet is the actual blockchain which provides users with a secure way to make transactions and lets developers create DApps by using smart contracts on the mainnet.

Introducing experimental features on the mainnet directly without testing them on the testnet forest is very risky as it can directly impact the users of a blockchain.


Foolproof security is vital to the trustworthiness of a mainnet. The security level of different blockchains varies depending on their unique algorithm and consensus mechanism. Since cryptocurrency tokens are used on the mainnet for transactions, they make the mainnet perfectly secure.

Encryption protocols used by blockchains make their mainnet a lot more secure. Some blockchain developers even offer bounties to hackers who find bugs and security issues on their mainnet.

Testnets, on the other hand, may or may not have the same level of security as testnets. If the testnet is testing new security features, it’ll surely have a good level of security. Otherwise, it might not have good security.

Use Cases

Since mainnets are the central point of every blockchain project, they have the most number of use cases. For example, mainnets can be used to transfer cryptocurrency, and create DApps with the help of smart contracts.

On the other hand, testnets have very limited use cases. These are mostly used to test new features, and see if they’re worth deploying on the mainnet. Developers can use testnets to check new features, and see how they can impact the mainnet if they’re implemented.

Asset Types

Testnet operates as a completely independent network and is cut off from the mainnet. This is why tokens on a testnet can’t be transferred to the mainnet or any other blockchain. If a mainnet user tries to send mainnet tokens to a testnet, they’ll lose their tokens forever.

In the same way, testnet tokens are demo tokens, and no user can make them valuable by sending them to the mainnet.

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Larry Wright

By Larry Wright

Larry Wright is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author. He is known for his insightful reporting and his ability to delve into complex issues with clarity and precision. His writing has been widely acclaimed for its depth and intelligence.