Three types of test network are available:

  1. Testnet

  2. Regtest

  3. Signet

These three networks all use coins of zero value, so can be used experimentally.

They primary differences between the networks are as follows:

Table 1. Comparison of different test networks
Feature Testnet Regtest Signet

Mining algorithm

Public hashing with difficulty

Local hashing, low difficulty

Signature from authorized signers

Block production schedule

Varies per hashrate


Reliable intervals (default 2.5 mins)

P2P port




RPC port












Chain birthday


At time of use


Can initiate re-orgs

If Miner



Primary use

Networked testing

Automated integration tests

Networked testing


Signet is both a tool that allows Developers to create their own networks for testing interactions between different Bitcoin software, and the name of the most popular of these public testing networks. Signet was codified in BIP 325.

To connect to the "main" Signet network, simply start bitcoind with the signet option, e.g. bitcoind -signet. Don’t forget to also pass the signet option to bitcoin-cli if using it to control bitcoind, e.g. bitcoin-cli -signet your_command_here. Instructions on how to setup your own Signet network can be found in the Bitcoin Core Signet README.md. The Bitcoin wiki Signet page provides additional background on Signet.


Another test network named regtest, which stands for regression test, is also available. This network is enabled by starting bitcoind with the -regtest option. This is an entirely self-contained mode, giving you complete control of the state of the blockchain. Blocks can simply be mined on command by the network operator.

The functional tests use this mode, but you can also run it manually. It provides a good means to learn and experiment on your own terms. It’s often run with a single node but may be run with multiple co-located (local) nodes (most of the functional tests do this). The blockchain initially contains only the genesis block, so you need to mine >100 blocks in order to have any spendable coins from a mature coinbase. Here’s an example session (after you’ve built bitcoind and bitcoin-cli):

$ mkdir -p /tmp/regtest-datadir
$ src/bitcoind -regtest -datadir=/tmp/regtest-datadir
$ src/bitcoin-cli -regtest -datadir=/tmp/regtest-datadir getblockchaininfo
  "chain": "regtest",
  "blocks": 0,
  "headers": 0,
  "bestblockhash": "0f9188f13cb7b2c71f2a335e3a4fc328bf5beb436012afca590b1a11466e2206",
$ src/bitcoin-cli -regtest -datadir=/tmp/regtest-datadir createwallet testwallet
$ src/bitcoin-cli -regtest -datadir=/tmp/regtest-datadir -generate 3
  "address": "bcrt1qpw3pjhtf9myl0qk9cxt54qt8qxu2mj955c7esx",
  "blocks": [
$ src/bitcoin-cli -regtest -datadir=/tmp/regtest-datadir getblockchaininfo
  "chain": "regtest",
  "blocks": 3,
  "headers": 3,
  "bestblockhash": "3210f3a12c25ea3d8ab38c0c4c4e0d5664308b62af1a771dfe591324452c7aa9",
$ src/bitcoin-cli -regtest -datadir=/tmp/regtest-datadir getbalances
  "mine": {
    "trusted": 0.00000000,
    "untrusted_pending": 0.00000000,
    "immature": 150.00000000
$ src/bitcoin-cli -regtest -datadir=/tmp/regtest-datadir stop

You may stop and restart the node and it will use the existing state. (Simply remove the data directory to start again from scratch.)

Blockchain Commons offer a guide to Using Bitcoin Regtest.


Testnet is a public bitcoin network where mining is performed in the usual way (hashing) by decentralized miners.

However, due to much lower hashrate (than mainnet), testnet is susceptible extreme levels of inter-block volatility due to the way the difficulty adjustment (DA) works: if a mainnet-scale miner wants to "test" their mining setup on testnet then they may cause the difficulty to increase greatly. Once the miner has concluded their tests they may remove all hashpower from the network at once. This can leave the network with a high difficulty which the DA will take a long time to compensate for.

Therefore a "20 minute" rule was introduced such that the difficulty would reduce to the minimum for one block before returning to its previous value. This ensures that there are no intra-block times greater than 20 minutes.

However there is a bug in the implementation which means that if this adjustment occurs on a difficulty adjustment block the difficulty is lowered to the minimum for one block but then not reset, making it permanent rather than a one-off adjustment. This will result in a large number of blocks being found until the DA catches up to the level of hashpower on the network.

It’s usually preferable to test private changes on a local regtest, or public changes on a Signet for this reason.