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Considering testnet Ether is basically free, why would I have to use the real network?

If my Dapp doesn't revolve entirely around currency, why can't I deploy it on the testnet? (My Dapp would be a service that uses the unique features of the blockchain, and you'd simply pay for the service, without it being directly related to currency).

Is it less safe? Less used? What are the advantages of the real network over the testnet?

If I want to make something unofficial with my friends, is it ok to use the testnet? (I don't have the computing material to use and maintain a private blockchain).

  • Agree with Mikko and would add that a system requirement for a synced testnet might be a source of friction when onboarding users. Imagine users with their wallets and the app doesn't work until they understand the requirement and sync testnet. – Rob Hitchens - B9lab Feb 13 '17 at 23:08
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Testnet is less safe.

Miners do not have incentive to keep the network running. The network gets polluted due to exploitation of free scarce resources. Perodically testnet may be reset, like happened with Ropsten testnet recently.

If your project does not need to live long and you only want to run it within your circle of friends then testnet is ok. However a private Ethereum node might serve the same need with some server cost and be safer.

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