This guide will show you how to create and set up your first Bitcoin wallet (an “account”). But first:
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. There are two main types of wallets.
A hot wallet is one that you install on your own computer or mobile device. You are in complete control over the security of your coins, but since they are on a device that is connected to the internet they are less secure.
The second type of wallet is a hardware wallet. They maintain high levels of security to protect your coins by storing your coins offline. Offline storage keeps your coins and ata out of reach from hackers.
There are four main wallets that we recommend for beginners.
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 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.
For those looking for mobility and security, we recommend the simply-titled Bitcoin Wallet mobile app. There is a version for both Android and BlackBerry OS. It is a software wallet, so you retain complete control over your bitcoins. It also works well with QR codes and NFC, making transferring coins to someone else’s phone easier than writing a check. Be sure to backup your wallet (with the included “Backup Wallet” feature) or you risk losing all your coins the next time you get too close to a pool.
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.