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testnet meaning crypto glossary

What is testnet? πŸ“–

In blockchain technology, a testnet is an instance of a blockchain-powered by the same or a newer version of the underlying software. It is used to run, test, and experiment with blockchain projects without risk to real funds or the main chain.

As users are moving to Web3 and decentralized finance (DeFi) it is causing an increase in the exchange of funds in this space. To keep those funds safe, services like security and reliability are becoming important for developers.

That extra layer of safety can be found in the in this very feature.

Example sentence: We found some bugs on the testnet and fixed them before deadline. Phew, we dodged a major curveball!

How does it work? 🌐

Developers can work with the same clients as they would on the mainnet but testnet gives their project safety on a separate ledger. This eliminates the risk to real funds.

Before deploying the project on the mainnet, developers first check it on testnet to identify if there is any bug or flaw. If they find any bugs they fix them right there.

If developers skip this part and directly deploy on mainnet it could potentially cost them a lot of money and precious time.

Instead of using actual money to test the project, developers use β€˜fake money’ like ETH faucet and Polygon faucet. This fake money is worth nothing – its only purpose is for testing projects.

Origins of testnet

The first testnet was created around 2 years after Bitcoin came into existence. It was developed by one of the Bitcoin developers known as Jeff Garzik.

Testnets can be categorized as a significant invention in blockchain because before testnets, developers would deploy and try out new features on the mainnet. 

This would result in losses and not provide them enough creative freedom to play around with the structure a bit more.

There are a few differences between a testnet and mainnet but the major difference is that while the experience is pretty much the same, the coins used by testnets have no real-life value and in testnets the blockchains are periodically restored to ensure that they always remain in a clean state for further testnet experimentations.

However, the first full-fledged public testnet was introduced in the year 2015 by the Ethereum Blockchain and had the network ID β€˜0’.

Every blockchain since then has its own testnets. Ethereum has two active ones called Goerli and Sepolia whereas Polygon has zkEVM.

Binance Smart Chain also has its own one known as BSC Testnet.

BSC testnet provides an environment for Binance Smart Chain for testing its projects. It is run by the Binance Developer Community which is an open forum for developers.

Try out the testnet, help us test its limits, break things, and identify bugs, so we can altogether deliver the first ever zkEVM to the world!

Polygon founder, Sandeep Nailwal, on encouraging developers to use testnet

Testnets like BSC can easily be added to MetaMask or any crypto-compliant wallet. All you need to do is claim some faucet money available at places like Polygon Faucet. After that, you can easily use it for testing purposes.

Do testnet tokens have any value?

Test tokens when used in a testnet can have value if you treat the testnet as a mainnet and pretend to carry out transactions in the main network. However, in reality, test tokens have no value. They don’t amount to anything and are only there to help users acclimate with the main network before they step into it.

What is the difference between testnet and mainnet?

The main difference between mainnet and testnet is that of the experience. Testnet works as the practice field and mainnet serves as the real playing field. In technical terms, mainnet is the fully operational and live version of a blockchain network. However, testnet is a different network, with pretty much the same features and interface as the mainnet, to help users get accustomed to the mainnet and experiment with the blockchain a little.

How do I convert testnet coins to real coins?

It is a general understanding that testnet and mainnet coins are two different types of coins. Thus, they are incompatible with each other. This is the reason why testnet coins can not be converted to real coins.