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Testnet vs Mainnet: What Is the Difference?

Vance Wood

Vance Wood

June 24, 2024

5 min read

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Programmable blockchains can be used to build decentralized applications (dApps) for various purposes. To use their full potential, it’s important to understand what is testnet and mainnet.

Mainnet is a primary version of blockchain with stable functionality, and the only one for most of its users. However, due to its stability, it’s often hard and undesirable to change them, while blockchain development and testing may require transactions and, therefore, be costly.

That’s where the test network becomes useful. While stability and usability are beneficial features of mainnet, testnet is a blockchain’s beta-version where tokens have no value. With it, developers can test every idea before implementing it, be it a dApp or even the main chain upgrade.

Let’s look closer to understand when testnet can be the best option to use.

What are testnet and mainnet?

If we want to understand the difference between testnet and mainnet, it’s important to define each and list their features.

Testnet meaning

Basically, it’s a smaller blockchain version, controlled by developers, where tokens have no price and the network’s code changes can be suggested.

When developing a dApp, developers need to test its functionality. Many of its aspects are based on crypto transactions, so it can be quite costly to test the application properly, especially including commissions. When comparing testnet vs mainnet in this context, it’s much more beneficial to use the former, without risking large expenses.


In addition, all blockchains are developing to improve their security, increase transaction speed, and add new features. All these features are initially tested, and then the best ones are used for major mainnet updates.
Comparing testnet and mainnet, it can be thought of as a beta version of an app or game, with free access, frequent changes, and possible bugs.

  • Tokens have no real value: 1 testnet ETH doesn’t cost $3k, but $0.
  • It’s controlled by developers, who can test their ideas in the network.
  • It’s less stable, as its purpose is to test new features that inevitably will have bugs.
  • It’s a subject of change, as developers can test various new features in it.

Now, we can see what the blockchain’s mainnet is and then point out crucial differences between mainnet and testnet.

Mainnet meaning

The mainnet network is a fully operational version of the blockchain, where all applications and transactions have real-world meaning. It means, for example, that the Ethereum mainnet is the network where all its Ether coins, dApps, NFTs, and other assets are operating, having real-world value.

Therefore, unlike testnet, mainnet is a network with stable functionality, where all features are checked, and numerous operating nodes make it much more secure. Let’s look closer at their features.

  • Tokens have real value, connected with fiat currencies.
  • It has a stable consensus mechanism, guaranteeing that all operations will proceed.
  • Its stability is guaranteed by numerous nodes and validators.
  • It usually cannot be changed, only as a result of major updates.

Now, we can compare the mainnet vs testnet and, therefore, point out all differences and see what we can do with each.

What is the difference between testnet and mainnet

Testnet can be imagined as a small mainnet fork, maintained by developers. So, there cannot be a testnet to mainnet swap, as the two networks have very different purposes.

Testnet Mainnet
Uses the mainnet features in an environment controlled by developers. Operates on a pre-defined consensus mechanism.
No real-world value. Has real-world value.
Low stability, frequent changes. High stability, no changes except updates.
Tokens can be obtained using crypto faucets. Tokens can be purchased or staked/mined.

As we’ll see, it’s not possible to bridge testnet to mainnet, too.

There are various mechanisms of how users can obtain testnet coins, called cryptocurrency faucets. Usually, cloud services and node providers provide them for free, enabling developers to obtain test coins to their wallets in the desired network. GetBlock, being a top node provider, also has testnet faucets.

How to convert testnet to mainnet?

There are separate blockchain networks, so a wallet address connected to one cannot exchange funds with a wallet connected to another.

That’s why 1 test ETH will never cost $3k as a mainnet ETH, but crypto scams can try to allure you with such claims. However, there cannot be a testnet to mainnet bridge and if you find one, it’s a 100% scam.


Source: MetaMask

Instead, to obtain testnet tokens, use a faucet in a desired network.

  1. Connect a testnet wallet to a trusted service, such as GetBlock, by typing it in a field.
  2. Obtain coins for dApp testing, usually around 1 test ETH.
  3. Connect the wallet to desired applications and test them without financial risks.

Remember: never send coins from testnet to mainnet wallet and vice versa: funds won’t arrive, and it’ll be necessary to reclaim them. Testnet tokens have real value only for dApp developers and blockchain enthusiasts, as they enable them to test their ideas without risking anything.

By understanding what is mainnet and testnet, developers can connect and test their dApps and chain upgrade ideas without risks, while blockchain users become aware of their existence and can avoid potential scams.

For developing, testing, and scaling dApps, you need blockchain nodes. That’s where GetBlock can help, with its 50+ blockchain node endpoints, providing the real-time connection for your dApp development, crypto trading, or blockchain research. Sign up and try a free version with 40,000 requests per day, and then scale your version as your apps grow!

Vance Wood

Vance Wood

June 24, 2024

5 min read