best bitcoin wallet


This guide will help you to find the best Bitcoin wallet for YOU!

Hint:

There's no "one size fits all" Bitcoin wallet. Wallets come on different platforms with different features.

If you want the best possible wallet, keep reading...

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Just enter your wallet preferences and we'll show you the best wallet for your needs.

  • What is your main use for the wallet going to be: secure storage or daily spending?

  • Is storing many different types of cryptocurrencies (like litecoin, ether, or ERC20 tokens) important to you?

  • Which operating system do you plan to use? iOS, Android or desktop?

What is a Bitcoin Wallet?

best bitcoin wallet

A Bitcoin wallet is the first step to using Bitcoin.

Why?

A “wallet” is basically the Bitcoin equivalent of a bank account. It allows you to receive bitcoins, store them, and then send them to others.

You can think of a wallet as your personal interface to the Bitcoin network, similar to how your online bank account is an interface to the regular monetary system.

Bitcoin wallets contain private keys; secret codes that allow you to spend your bitcoins.

In reality, it’s not bitcoins that need to be stored and secured, but the private keys that give you access to them.

In short:

A Bitcoin wallet is simply an app, website, or device that manages Bitcoin private keys for you.

This guide will show you how to create a bitcoin wallet and pick the best one.

Types of Bitcoin Wallets

Let's discuss the types of bitcoin wallets and why you might want to use one kind over another.

Hardware Wallets

bitcoin hardware wallet The Ledger Nano S is one example of a hardware wallet.

A hardware wallet is a physical electronic device, built for the sole purpose of securing bitcoins.

The core innovation is that the hardware wallet must be connected to your computer, phone, or tablet before bitcoins may be spent.

The three most popular and best Bitcoin hardware wallets are:

Hardware wallets are a good choice if you’re serious about security and convenient, reliable Bitcoin storage.

Bitcoin hardware wallets keep private keys separate from vulnerable, internet-connected devices.

Your all-important private keys are maintained in a secure offline environment on the hardware wallet, fully protected even should the device be plugged into a malware-infected computer.

As bitcoins are digital, cyber-criminals could, potentially, target your computer’s “software wallet” and steal them by accessing your private key.

Generating and storing private keys offline using a hardware wallet ensures that hackers have no way to reach your bitcoins.

Hackers would have to steal the hardware wallet itself, but even then, it can be protected with a PIN code.

Don’t worry about your hardware wallet getting stolen, lost or damaged either; so long as you create a secret backup code, you can always retrieve your bitcoins.

Think of a hardware wallet like your own underground steel vault. If you own a significant amount of bitcoin, you should strongly consider getting one!

Jordan Tuwiner Founder, Buy Bitcoin Worldwide

Why are hardware wallets good?

  • Easiest way to securely store bitcoins
  • Easy to backup and secure
  • Less margin for error; setup is easy even for less technical users

Why are hardware wallets bad?

  • They're not free!

Hot Wallets

Hot wallets are Bitcoin wallets that run on internet connected devices like a computer, mobile phone, or tablet.

Private keys are secret codes. Because hot wallets generate your private keys on an internet connected device, these private keys can’t be considered 100% secure.

Think of a hot wallet like your wallet today: you use it to store some cash, but not your life savings. Hot wallets are great if you make frequent payments, but not a good choice for the secure storage of bitcoins.

Jordan Tuwiner Founder, Buy Bitcoin Worldwide

Why are hot wallets good?

  • Easiest way to store small amounts of bitcoin
  • Convenient; spending and receiving payments is easy and fast
  • Some hot wallets allow access to funds across multiple devices

Why are hot wallets bad?

  • Not safe for the secure storage of large amounts of bitcoins

Which Wallet is Best for You?

Why are you using Bitcoin?

Investing or saving? Then a hardware wallet will keep your coins safe.

Otherwise, a software wallet will send and receive bitcoins just fine. Best of all, software wallets are free.

Each wallet has pros and cons, and different wallets are built to solve different problems.

Here is a video that may help:

Some wallets may be geared towards security, while some wallets may be more focused on privacy.

Your specific needs should determine the wallet you use, as there is no “best bitcoin wallet”.


Below, we've listed wallets you can buy or download. We suggest using the wallets listed or doing research before buying or downloading any wallet.

Each day, new Bitcoin scam wallets are added to the Google Play Store and Apple app store that are designed to steal peoples' bitcoins.

We only list wallets that have published and open-sourced their code.

Hardware Wallets: Keep Your Coins Safe

Hardware wallets aren't free.

bitcoin hardware wallet The three most popular hardware wallets: KeepKey, Ledger Nano S, and Trezor.

But the price can be worth it if you own a significant amount of bitcoins. A hardware wallet will protect a few hundred in Bitcoin just as effectively as a few million.

How Hardware Wallets Work

Hardware wallets are secure, offline devices. They store your private keys offline so they can't be hacked.

This means you can even use one on a malware infected computer.

Why A Hardware Wallet with a Screen is Important

In the table below, you'll notice we show which hardware wallets have screens.

Screens provide extra security by verifying and displaying important wallet details. Since the hardware wallet is nearly impossible to hack, its screen is more trustworthy than data displayed on your computer.

Bitcoin Hardware Wallet Comparison

Check the table below for a quick comparison. Note:

We also did a detailed comparison of the three main ones: Ledger Nano S, Trezor, and KeepKey.

Wallet Screen
Released Price Buy
Ledger Nano S 2016 79€
TREZOR One 2013 $99
KeepKey 2015 $129

Best Bitcoin Hardware Wallet Overviews


Ledger Nano S Buy Learn More

The Ledger Nano S is the cheapest of the three hardware wallets with a screen; it costs about $95. Ledger, one of the most well-known Bitcoin security companies, released the device in August 2016.

Buy Learn More

TREZOR One Buy Learn More

TREZOR launched in August 2014 as the first Bitcoin hardware wallet, offering secure bitcoin storage plus the ability to spend with the convenience of a hot wallet. TREZOR is a small, thumb-sized device.

Buy Learn More

KeepKey Buy Learn More

KeepKey was released in September 2015 and was the second hardware Bitcoin wallet to offer a screen. The KeepKey's larger screen gives it some extra security features that the Nano S and Trezor lack.

Buy Learn More

Hot Wallets

Just a quick refresher:

Hot wallets are Bitcoin wallets that run on internet connected devices like a computer, mobile phone, or tablet. As hot wallets generate private keys on an internet connected device, these private keys can’t be considered 100% secure.

Think of a hot wallet like your wallet today: you use it to store some cash, but not your life savings. Hot wallets are great if you make frequent payments, but not a good choice for the secure storage of bitcoins.

Jordan Tuwiner Founder, Buy Bitcoin Worldwide

Online Bitcoin Wallets (Web Wallets)

Web wallets store your private keys online, where they are encrypted with a user-selected password. Although they offer the lowest level of security, online bitcoin wallets have the advantage of being accessible from any internet connected device.


GreenAddress

GreenAddress is a multi-signature Bitcoin wallet available on the web, desktop, Android, and iOS. GreenAddress is compatible with hardware wallets like TREZOR, Ledger Nano, and the HW.1.

“Multi-signature” in this context means that the site requires a manual confirmation from you for your coins to be moved; this greatly improves security.

Android Bitcoin Wallets

There is a large selection of Android wallets. Since Bitcoin wallets were originally banned by Apple, developers spent much of their time developing for Android.


Samourai Wallet

Samourai is 100% the best available Android wallet. It has the most features, the best privacy and its developers are constantly working to add the latest Bitcoin features to the wallet. Samourai Wallet has been around for more than 3 years and its code is fully open source.

Mycelium

Mycelium is the most popular Bitcoin wallet on Android. It's very easy to use for sending and receiving payments. Backing up your wallet is also simple, since Mycelium makes it very clear with setup and backup instructions.

breadwallet

breadwallet, the great iPhone Bitcoin wallet, recently released an Android wallet. It offers the user control of private keys, an easy to use interface, and passcode support.

Edge

Edge is an easy to use Bitcoin wallet for iPhone and Android. Its familiar login feature makes using the app a breeze for people new to bitcoin. The wallet also creates automatic backups, so you don't have to worry about the technicalities of performing manual wallet backups.

GreenBits

GreenBits is the native Android version of GreenAddress. It’s a multi-signature wallet that also supports hardware wallets like TREZOR and Ledger.

Bitcoin Wallet

Bitcoin Wallet, or “Schildbach Wallet”, was the first mobile Bitcoin wallet. Bitcoin Wallet is more secure than most mobile Bitcoin wallets, because it connects directly to the Bitcoin network. Bitcoin Wallet has a simple interface and just the right amount of features, making it a great wallet and a great educational tool for Bitcoin beginners.

iOS and iPhone Bitcoin Wallets

Apple banned Bitcoin wallets from the App Store in February 2014, but reversed its decision a few months later. Luckily, there are now plenty of options for iOS users.


breadwallet

We consider breadwallet, along with Copay (below), as the best bitcoin wallet for iPhone. It’s open source and gives the user full control over their private keys. It also has a clean interface which makes the sending and receiving of bitcoins a pleasurable and super-simple process.

Edge

Edge is an easy to use Bitcoin wallet for iPhone and Android. Its familiar login feature makes using the app a breeze for people new to bitcoin. The wallet also creates automatic backups, so you don't have to worry about the technicalities of performing manual wallet backups.

Desktop Wallets

Desktop wallets are downloaded and installed on your computer. If privacy is your main concern, the Bitcoin core wallet is a good option since it does not rely on third parties for data.


Electrum

Electrum is a light weight Bitcoin wallet for Mac, Linux, and Windows. Electrum was created in November 2011. The main features of Electrum are: support for hardware wallets (such as TREZOR, Ledger Nano and KeepKey), and secure Bitcoin storage using an offline computer. Electrum is a good option for both beginners and advanced users.

Bitcoin Banks: $1 Billion Lost in Hacks

One last thing to keep in mind when it comes to bitcoin wallets is that there is a difference between a wallet and a bank. Some Bitcoin users view Coinbase as a Bitcoin wallet, but companies like this operate much more like banks.

Remember:

The private keys are what users need to protect to safely use the Bitcoin network without getting robbed. When you hand someone else control over your private keys, you are essentially making a deposit at that financial institution – much like a deposit at any bank.

Don't store coins on exchanges! Bitcoin users have lost over $1 billion worth of bitcoins in exchange hacks and scams. Control your own private keys.

Jordan Tuwiner Founder, Buy Bitcoin Worldwide

This is not to say that bitcoin banks are inherently bad. Companies like Coinbase have done wonders for bringing more users into the ecosystem. It is simply important to remember that whoever controls the private keys controls the bitcoin attached to those keys.

A misunderstanding of this point has led to hundreds of millions of US dollars being lost in the past, so it’s important to understand this critical difference in how Bitcoin private keys can be stored.

Understanding how bitcoin wallets work is an important aspect of safely using this new technology. Bitcoin is still in its early years of development and wallets will become much more user-friendly in time.

In the near future, certain devices may eventually come with pre-installed wallets that interact with the blockchain without the user’s knowledge.

For now, it’s vital to keep in mind that the private keys are what you need to protect if you want to keep your bitcoin safe from hackers, user error, and other possible issues.

Theft and Scams

No matter which wallet you choose, remember:

Your bitcoins are only safe if the private key was generated securely, remains a secret, and--most importantly--is controlled only by YOU!

Here are two examples where users got ripped off by leaving bitcoins in the care of a third party:

To avoid theft, scams, and any other loss of funds, follow these three basic principles:

  1. Generate your private keys in a secure, offline environment. (Except if using trivial amounts, in which cases keys may be created in a hot wallet).
  2. Create backups of your private keys. This helps to protect against the loss of your bitcoins due to hard drive failure or some other problem or accident. Ideally you should have a duplicate set of backups kept off-site to protect against the possibility of fire, robbery, etc.
  3. Encrypt wallets to provide additional security. This helps prevent the physical theft of your funds in the event that your device or hardware wallet is stolen.

Securing your bitcoins properly is the most important step for any Bitcoin user.

With Bitcoin you have the privilege - but also the responsibility - to safeguard your own money. There have been countless scams related to Bitcoin that could have been prevented had people not entrusted others with their bitcoins.

It’s a good rule of thumb to never trust anyone else with your money.

Best Hardware Wallet for Altcoins

If you are serious about using and investing in various cryptocurrencies, then you will need to get a hold of a hardware wallet, possibly more than one. All financial instruments are inherently risky. Cryptocurrencies tend to be riskier than most in a variety of ways. While it is impossible to eliminate all risk when using them, hardware wallets go a long way to reducing most. However, not all hardware wallets are created equal. It is not enough to buy just anything, but rather you need to carefully select the right option for you. For years there was little choice for cold storage options, but now there is more than ever. In this article we will take a look at the best on the market at the moment and why you should invest in them.

The Cool Wallet

The Cool Wallet is a recent addition to the cold storage marketplace and offers its own interesting take on things. Its looks certainly hold up to the first part of the brand name, but considering its form factor, it's more of a crypto-credit card than a wallet.

The Cool Wallet also handles quite well when compared to other cold storage devices. Further, it has a very unique approach to passphrases compared with the norms for other hardware wallets. This device generates random 20 random numbers, as opposed to words, and even gives you the option to have them sent to one of your devices. Still, it is highly advisable to simply write them down instead.

Cool Wallets are also inherently two factor authenticated, as they must be paired with another blue tooth enabled device to function. For some, this may be a possible security concern, but not hugely so, especially given the highly randomized “pass-numbers” and authentication process.

In terms of design, this is maybe the best option and also great as a backup hardware wallet to handle small amounts of cryptocurrencies.

Supports: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple

DigitalBitbox

DigitalBitbox is one of the most secure packages that you could purchase. It sacrifices quite a bit in terms of its physical interfacing, but more than makes up for that with its multi-platform open source software and an immense range of features.

One of the best things about the DigitalBitbox is its unique adaptation for passphrase security and backups. This is maybe the one device out there, that comes with a simple yet truly reliable “second-chance” in the worst-case scenario. Additionally, it comes with multiple layers of added security including a hidden wallet and two-factor authentications.

It also helps that it is one of the most affordable options out there at the moment. The only real drawback for the DigitalBitbox is its lack of support for most altcoins. That being said, if you are only or primarily using Bitcoin, then this is the hardware wallet for you.

Supports: Bitcoin

Ledger Nano S

Currently, the industry leader in hardware wallets is the Ledger Nano S platform and it’s not hard to see why. This hardware wallet supports a large number of different cryptocurrencies and has a robust array of security features.

Ledger’s main competitor in the market space is the original Trezor hardware wallet. One of the key advantages of the Ledger over the Trezor is the freedom to create your own unique passphrases. Both the Ledger and the Trezor require 20 passphrases for recovery and reset purposes; however, the Trezor package sends the user a random list. The Ledger gives the user the freedom to create their own. Additionally, if aesthetics matter to you, the Ledger sports an arguably sleeker design than the Trezor.

The Ledger Nano S is definitely a safe place to start with hardware wallets, especially if you are just switching from using a hot wallet. In many ways, it represents the “CoinBase.com” of hardware wallets. If you are uncertain of where to start, this is probably for you.

Supports: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, DASH, Dodgecoin, Ripple, Komodo, PoSW, ARK, Expanse, Ubiq, PIVX, Vertcoin, Viacoin, Neo, Stealthcoin, Stratis, Zcash

Trezor

Launched back when Bitcoin was just coming out of its infancy, the Trezor was the first ever commercially available Bitcoin hardware wallet. Although many competitors have stepped forward over the years, it still remains one of the best hardware wallets for cold storage of cryptocurrencies.

As mentioned earlier, the Ledger is the main competitor with the Trezor for dominance in the marketplace. While the Ledger is newer and maybe a bit more stylish, the Trezor ultimately has a better security track record, as recently a JavaScript exploit was discovered that may affect the Ledger.

In a sense the Trezor is less “high-tech” than many other platforms; however, this makes it far less vulnerable. Additionally, a very nice feature of the Trezor is its semi twin factor randomized pin code generator that is required to be used before each use. On its own, it is quite resistant to any form of malware, but with this feature, you are protected from keyloggers as well.

Supports:

Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, DASH, Dodgecoin, Namecoin, Zcash, ERC-20 Tokens

A Few Words

Depending on your aims, lifestyle, and preferences you may prefer one or more of the hardware wallets listed. Regardless of which you choose, it is simply important that you choose at least one and use it. The security of your Bitcoins and other altcoins is in your hands.

Bitcoin Hardware Wallet Information

Digital Bitbox

DigitalBitbox seems to be the product of the paranoid fevered dreams of an all too brilliant mind. Most true aficionados of cryptocurrencies tend to err on the side of caution where security is concerned.

By comparison, the makers of DigitalBitbox live there permanently. By no means is that a bad thing as Shift Devices may have created the most secure cold storage device for cryptocurrencies outside of a paper storage.

Not only is the DigitalBitbox a very well-guarded device, but it also brings a host of other features that really help to extend its usage and set it apart from the competition.

The First Rule of DigitalBitbox is Security

Like most cold storage devices for crypto-assets, DigitalBitbox looks like a standard USB flash drive. The one thing that sets it apart from hardware wallets is the micro SD card embedded horizontally in the middle. Not only does this feature set it apart visually, but also functionally.

The chief selling point of this hardware wallet is that you no longer have to write down several passphrases to recover your assets in case of an emergency. Rather, when you first setup the DigitalBitbox all this information is automatically stored on the SD card. No doubt, this has the potential to save many investors headaches in the future. Granted, you must still ensure that the SD card is kept somewhere safe and you should only ever have into inserted in the DigitalBitbox on setup or when resetting.

The Second Rule of DigitalBitbox is . . . Also, Security

Beyond this great security feature, this new hardware wallet comes with a bevy of other features that either improve its overall security or extend its use beyond just storing your Bitcoins. Foremost amongst these features is the ability to create a secondary “hidden” wallet: marketed as “Plausible Deniability” by the manufacturer. The main idea here being that should store most of your assets in one less accessible wallet and the rest of them in the more visible one. If for some reason the more visible wallet is compromised, the hidden wallet and your main resources stay intact. With the aid of the micro SD card, you can regain access to them later.

Additionally, the DigitalBitbox has two modes of twin factor authentication. First, when paired with another device, you can enable two-factor authentications for using the wallet to make new transactions. Alternatively, you can use the DigitalBitbox itself as the second factor for another platform that uses two-factor authentications. It should be noted that doing this does disable some other options on the wallet. Ideally, only the first mode of twin authentication should be used if your DigitalBitbox is your main hardware wallet. However, if you don’t intend to use it for making many transactions, then it makes for a useful extended feature.

A New Competitor for the Trezor and Ledger

When it comes to using cryptocurrencies, if security dominates your every thought, then the DigitalBitbox is the hardware wallet that you are looking for. It is exceptionally easy to engage with and it utilizes open source applications for Linus, Mac, and Windows. The only real downside for prospective users is that for all intents it is currently restricted to Bitcoin. Otherwise, it novel new platform that offers solid functionality and comes at a very competitive price.

OpenDime Hardware Wallet

Recently, there has been a lot of excitement around Bitcoin and other altcoins. It is understandable that some newcomers have the impression that Bitcoin is some sort of collectible item, yet the fact remains that Bitcoin is simply a currency. Stripped of all the hype and value predictions, Bitcoin is primarily a means of exchange. OpenDime is a relatively new cold storage platform that truly embraces the values of decentralization and relative anonymity. In an era where highly, accessible centralized hot exchanges are all the rage, OpenDime hearkens back to a purer philosophy and with it brings its own new take on hardware wallets to the marketplace.

Cold Hard Bitcoin Sticks

OpenDime is the making a name for itself as the “piggy bank” of cold storage units in the world of cryptocurrencies. It functions like other cold storage units with one key exception: one-time secure usage. That one key difference changes quite a lot in the way people use it. Other storage platforms act more like wallets to be used repeatedly with a reasonable degree of security. Whereas an OpenDime unit can be used extremely securely as an address to store Bitcoins until the owner needs to cash out, but only once. In a manner that directly parallels smashing open a piggy bank, once an OpenDime storage unit is “opened” it can no longer be used with the same degree of safety again. OpenDime is a platform that changes the intangible asset of Bitcoin into a physical thing that people can exchange between each other in the real world.

The Setup

OpenDime works in a similar fashion to most cold storage units. You buy it, you initialize it, then you use it. The one add-on to this process is that when you want to cash the funds stored on it, you literally have to break it open.

The initialization process is relatively simple. Plug it into a USB port on your device. You will then have to generate a private key by adding 256 KB to the drive. You can do this by dragging one or two random pictures into it. After the private key is generated the drive will self-eject. It is now ready to use. To manage your assets and view your digital address you will have to open the index.htm file located on the drive. The user interface is very easy to use and even provides links to several blockchain browsers.

Making Your Bit-Omlet

Eventually, you will want to access the Bitcoins or Litecoins stored on it. If you have the first version of OpenDime, you will need to break off a plastic "tongue" in the middle of the flash stick. Later versions work much like resetting old routers. You will need to push a pin through a marked section of the drive. Both of these processes physically change the drive. After doing this the private key associated with that OpenDime will be downloaded onto your pc or mobile device. This is the most vulnerable point in using the OpenDime. Make sure that you are using a secured system when doing this. You can then use the private key to access your funds in the same way you would with any other platform.

Bitcoin Wallet Frequently Asked Questions

Bitcoin wallets. What are they?

Bitcoin Wallets let us send, receive and store Bitcoin amounts all the way down to the Satoshi unit.

Wallets secure funds by guarding our private keys. These private keys act as the proof of ownership for our Bitcoins. As such, a Bitcoin wallet is like a key to your safe deposit box on the Blockchain.

What is a private key?

Private keys emerged as a way to communicate securely through insecure communication channels.

Historically, before the advent of public key cryptography, the greatest cryptographic weakness was the inability to communicate the ‘key’ that makes sense of encrypted messages. As a solution, the use of two keys (public and private) entered the picture.

It’s a nifty little trick.

Keys come in pairs. The public key is used to encrypt the message whereas the private key decrypts the message. The only person with the private key is you. Everyone else is free to have your public key. As a result, everyone can send you encrypted messages without having to agree on a key beforehand. They simply use your public key and you untangle the gibberish by using your private key.

Why should I care about private keys?

At the end of the day, all of this can go over your head without much danger. Just remember that it’s good to know what you’re dealing with. Bitcoin wallets make use of a fundamental cryptographic principle that we use for things ranging from https for websites or sending anonymous tips to Wikileaks. Most importantly, by understanding private keys you’ll have a much easier familiarizing yourself with Cold Storage wallets.

What is a Bitcoin address?

A Bitcoin address is like an account number, just better. The address denotes which wallet the coins should be sent to. Like a bank account number, where the difference lies in the wallets having multiple addresses. These can be customized by including payment request information such as an amount and a date of expiration.

What should I know about addresses?

Bitcoin wallet addresses are case sensitive, usually have 34 characters of numbers and lowercase letters, start with either a 1 or a 3, and never use 0, O, l and I to make every character in the address as clear as possible. That’s a lot to take in. But don’t worry. What they consist of is largely irrelevant to you. Just know they’re a string of characters that denote a destination on the Bitcoin Blockchain.

How do I generate a Bitcoin address for my wallet?

How to generate a new Bitcoin Address varies between wallets. Some manage your addresses for you. Others give you full control. As with many other Bitcoin technologies, the option to dirty your own hands is always open.

If you do end up taking the easier route, just press a button to generate a new address for your wallet.

Some wallets, like Electrum, allow you choose in how many blocks your transaction should be confirmed. The faster you want your payment to go through, the more you will have to pay miners for confirming your activity. We find here another difference between Bitcoin wallets and Bank accounts. Given the right wallet, the control and oversight that we have over our transactions is far more extensive than that of the traditional banking system.

How do I fund a Bitcoin Wallet?

First, acquire some Bitcoins. Go through an exchange in your country, ask an acquaintance to share, or use Buybitcoinworldwide.com if you want as seamless of an experience as possible. The purchased coins can then be sent to your wallet by specifying one of its addresses.

Some wallets, particularly online ones, also let you buy coins. Keep in mind that these come with larger exchange margins which are best left alone.

Are Bitcoins safe?

Is Bitcoin a safe way to store value digitally? Are we wise to save our coins on our computer? It’s true that online wallets are necessarily more dangerous than offline wallets. However, even offline wallets can be breached, meaning that security in the Bitcoin world depends largely on following good practices. Just like you would avoid flailing your bills about in a dangerous place, you should make sure to keep your passwords and keys as safe as possible.

How do I secure my Wallet?

  • Secure your computer
  • Restrict unsupervised access. Set a strong password and close all ports and maintain a strict firewall.
  • Frequently change address. Use a different address for every transaction.
  • Multiple Signatures (Multi-sig). Multiple private keys to deter breaches.

Where are Bitcoins stored?

Bitcoins simply consist of a string of data. That’s why they can be stored anywhere. You could paint Bitcoin on a wall with your blood. Nobody does that though. Hopefully.

Instead, we store BTC on computers because we need them handy to trade. After all, we need to be connected to the internet to send value from one wallet to another over the Blockchain.

How do I open a Bitcoin account?

To some readers this might seem like a weird question. Truth is, people coming from a financial or business background are likely to expect Bitcoin to be a direct alternative to our current financial system. This is not the case.

You don’t need a Bitcoin account. There is no such thing really. You just need a wallet. The only accounts you might encounter are online wallets that are separated into various accounts via a user system.

How do I know which wallet is best for me?

Let’s be honest. It’s unreasonable to expect anyone else to make this decision for you. After all, your preference depends entirely on your personality and needs. So just be honest with yourself.

Frankly, you shouldn’t need anything complicated if you’re using the wallet for simple internet expenses or as a way to save money.

If, however, you’re planning to run a Bitcoin centered business make sure to use advanced wallets that support automated mass payments.

Any common mistakes to be careful of?

First of all, don’t rest your money in an exchange wallet. Keep your coins in an environment where you have complete control.

Secondly, don’t keep all of your coins in one place. You’ll be crushed if you lose access to a wallet with all of your funds.

Thirdly, double check the target address. Bitcoin transactions cannot be reversed, so don’t lose your coins forever to a stranger!

Last of all, use trusted online wallets (if at all). Don’t just trust anyone with your money. Make sure that the online wallet provider has a reputation of upholding the highest possible security standards.

Security Risks with Hardware Wallets

Hardware wallets are more secure than any other software wallet, like one that runs on your Android or iOS device, or desktop. However, hardware wallets have some unique security risks to be aware of.

Tampering of the Device

We always recommend to order directly from the hardware seller. This is because someone can buy a hardware wallet, tamper with it, and sell it used. They could program it to steal any bitcoins or add a back door.

Most hardware wallets add some special kind of tape on the packaging to try to make any tampering more noticeable. This is another reason we recommend only ordering from the hardware wallet company, and not from a website like eBay.

Bad Random Number Generator

Bitcoin private keys are based on cryptography. Random number generators, also called RNGs, are used to create the private keys that secure bitcoins.

If the random number generator is not random enough, that means someone else can recreate the private key of the hardware wallet easier. This attack has happened in the past with blockchain.info, a web wallet. Over 300 BTC were lost because blockchain.info did not use good RNG, so a hacker was able to generate the private keys again and steal coins.

One way to help prevent this is to use the hardware wallet’s custom 25th word. TREZOR, for example, allows you to add a 25th word to the 24 word seed. This means that you can technically add your own RNG to the computer generated RNG to ensure your private key will be truly based on good RNG.

What happens if the hardware wallet company goes out of business?

All hardware wallets listed above work with other wallets. So, if the hardware wallet company goes out of business you will still be able to use your wallet with a different wallet like Electrum.

Let’s say you use TREZOR with TREZOR’s myTREZOR wallet. TREZOR goes out of business and no longer supports myTREZOR wallet and it gets shut down.

You could, in just a few minutes, download Electrum on your computer. Once installed, you’d setup your TREZOR and all of your transaction history and balance would get imported and be exactly the same. This is because Electrum will use the same 24-word seed you generated with TREZOR on setup.

Which wallets can be used for each device?

Ledger Nano S, KeepKey and TREZOR all work with:

  • Mycelium (Android version only)
  • Electrum for Mac, Windows and Linux
  • Multibit HD
  • GreenAddress

Do these hardware wallets work for Ethereum?

Yes, all of these wallets work with EthereumLitecoin and many other coins.

TREZOR and Ledger both have blog posts explaining their integrations with various Ethereum wallets.

The hardware wallet tells me to write down the 24 word seed on paper.

Should I take a picture of the seed with my phone as a backup?

NO, NO, and NO!

The seeds generated by hardware wallets are meant to be written down only. By taking a picture of your seed with an internet connected phone, you put your entire wallet on a device that is connected to the internet and easier for hackers to get into. Please do not do this!

Why do the hardware wallets have buttons?

The buttons are used to confirm transactions. In order to send a transaction, you must physically press or hold buttons on the devices. This is a security feature. If a hacker were to access the hardware wallet somehow, the hacker still would not be able to send a TX without physical access to the buttons. Read more about this in TREZOR’s security philosophy.

Do hardware wallets work with Coinbase?

One of the most frequent questions we get asked is how Coinbase works with hardware wallets.

It’s a trick question!

Coinbase does not work directly with hardware wallet. You should, however, send bitcoins from Coinbase directly to your hardware wallet once you buy. Never store bitcoins on Coinbase or any other exchange for long periods of time.

Too many people in the past have lost money from hacks like Bitfinex and Mt. Gox.

So, yes, use a hardware wallet in conjunction with Coinbase. Buy on Coinbase, then send to hardware wallet.

Also, what we said above goes for ALL exchanges. Use Bitstamp? Cool! Once you buy bitcoins on Stamp, send the coins to your hardware wallet. The same goes for Kraken, Poloniex, or any other exchange or service that holds your coins!

What other kinds of wallets can I use?

Other wallet types are hot wallets. This means they are wallets run on an internet connected computer.

Android wallets, iOS wallets and desktop wallets are all examples of this.

How many backups of my seed should I create?

We recommend keeping at least two backups of your seed in multiple locations.

You can also laminate your seed to protect against water damage or any other damage.

Keeping your seeds in fire proof safes can help protect in the event that the storage location is burned down.

Another option is to put your seed into metal manually using stamps, or using Billfodl.

What happens if someone finds my 24 word seed?

Unless you’re using a 25th word, someone who finds your 24 word seed can sweep your entire wallet.

Coinbase

Sending coins with Coinbase

Coinbase is a web wallet with a simple design and a number of very useful features that make it excellent for beginners. You can send and receive bitcoins via email and buy and sell bitcoins directly from Coinbase.

Once you get the hang of things, it is better to move your coins off of Coinbase and into a wallet mentioned above like the Ledger Nano S . Coinbase is a good place to buy bitcoins and learn how it works, but not a good solution for long term storage.

A full-featured Android app enables access to all account functions on the go. Coinbase’s founders have a proven startup track record and have raised money from very prominent venture capitalists. This gives Coinbase a level of legitimacy unparalleled in the Bitcoin space. They are also one of the only large Bitcoin companies to never suffer a major hack. Click here to sign up.

Electrum

sending coins with Electrum for Windows

Electrum is a software wallet that enables you to set up a strong level of security very quickly. During the simple installation process, you are given a twelve word phrase that will allow you to recover all of your bitcoins in the event that your computer fails. Your wallet is also encrypted by default which helps protect your coins against hackers. Electrum is available for Windows, OSX, and Linux and is our recommended software wallet for beginners. Click here to download the right version for your operating system.

Other Wallets

We also recommend a few other wallets, but not for the beginning Bitcoin user. If you are up for more of a challenge, Armory is a good choice for those requiring the highest possible security, and the original Bitcoin-Qt client is also trusted and worth learning how to use.

Now that you have a wallet set up, it’s time to learn how to get some bitcoins.