The Beginners Guide to Using an Ethereum Test Network

Geoff Hayes
Feb 16, 2018 · 3 min read

Before a project launches on the Ethereum blockchain (or before changes are made to the blockchain itself), a version is deployed to an Ethereum Test Network (“testnet”), which simulates Ethereum — this gives developers, the community, and you a chance to kick the tires before real assets are involved.

Ether and tokens on a testnet are easy to obtain, and carry no real-world value — still, it can be fun to own 10,000 Ether or a trillion tokens on a testnet.

Testnets

There are three testnets currently in use, and each behaves similarly to the production blockchain (where your real Ether and tokens reside). Developers may have a personal preference or favorite testnet, and projects typically develop on only one of them.

  • Ropsten: A proof-of-work blockchain that most closely resembles Ethereum; you can easily mine faux-Ether.
  • Kovan: A proof-of-authority blockchain, started by the Parity team. Ether can’t be mined; it has to be requested.
  • Rinkeby: A proof-of-authority blockchain, started by the Geth team. Ether can’t be mined; it has to be requested.

Connecting to a testnet

Ethereum addresses & private keys that work on Ethereum, work on each testnet — be extremely careful not to send Ether or tokens on the Ethereum main-net to a testnet address, or you will lose your assets.

Before proceeding, Compound recommends creating a new wallet specifically for use on testnets; you’ll never accidentally send Ether, if you don’t have Ether.

Image for post

MetaMask

Using MetaMask to send Ether and tokens on a testnet is straightforward; in the top-left of MetaMask, you can select an Ethereum network.

Switch from the Main Ethereum Network to Rinkeby (or other testnet) and you should see your balances and transaction history update, to reflect the network you’ve selected.

Now, when you create a transaction using MetaMask, it will be transmitted to the network you’ve selected.

MyEtherWallet & MyCrypto

Image for post
MyEtherWallet
Image for post
MyCrypto

MyEtherWallet and MyCrypto similarly allows you to select an alternate network, in the top right of the screen. When you do so, all transactions, and contract calls are conducted on the network that you’ve chosen.

Acquiring Ether

It’s time to load up your new account with faucet Ether.

Kovan

The Kovan Faucet requires you to provide your Github account credentials to Parity, and allows you to request Kovan Ether once every 24 hours.

Image for post
Kovan Fauctet

Rinkeby

The Rinkeby Faucet requires that you make a social media post including your address on either Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus. Once you do so, put the direct link to that post in the input box and select 18.75 Ethers / 3 days from the dropdown on the right.

Image for post
Rinkeby Faucet

Compound

Compound is an algorithmic, autonomous interest rate protocol built for developers.

Geoff Hayes

Written by

Compound

Compound

Compound is an algorithmic, autonomous interest rate protocol built for developers, to unlock a universe of open financial applications.

Geoff Hayes

Written by

Compound

Compound

Compound is an algorithmic, autonomous interest rate protocol built for developers, to unlock a universe of open financial applications.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store