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The first thing that you need to do after you make your first bitcoin purchase is to download and install a bitcoin wallet so you can hold the coins by yourself. Storing Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency on an exchange is insecure in many ways as the exchange can be hacked, they may lose access to the wallets or the exchange can become insolvent.
Not your keys, not your bitcoins.
What is a Bitcoin wallet?
A Bitcoin wallet is a computer application where the private keys are stored behind strong encryption on a computer device. The wallet does not literally store your Bitcoins, but the private keys needed to access them. Usually, the private keys are hidden behind an encrypted password that protects the wallet from unauthorized access. There are different types of Bitcoin and crypto wallets such as:
In addition, we can further categorize wallets into hot and cold wallets, which differ significantly.
A hot wallet is a wallet that is installed on a device that is constantly connected to the web. For example, if you decide to install the Exodus wallet on your desktop device which is connected to the internet, you have a hot wallet. There are web wallets like the Blockchain.com wallet and there are wallets that are more privacy-oriented like Samourai – a mobile wallet.
A cold wallet is a wallet that is not connected to the web 24/7. Usually, it is a USB device that you connect to the web only when you want to make a transaction. Therefore, when the transaction is done you disconnect and put the device in a safe and secure place. Thus, if your computer is hacked, your Bitcoins will be safe as the hacker won’t have access to the hardware wallet through the PC.
What is a Desktop Bitcoin wallet?
A desktop wallet is a program that is installed on your desktop computer. The desktop wallet creates a private key that is stored on the computer hard drive with an encrypted password required to access your Bitcoins.
What is a Mobile Bitcoin wallet?
A mobile wallet is a mobile device application that generates the private keys on your phone. In most cases, mobile wallets are encrypted behind a PIN, which is needed whenever you want to access the wallet.
What is a Bitcoin Web wallet?
Web wallets are accessed directly on a dedicated website via browser. These types of wallets do not store private keys on your device, instead, the keys are stored on a central server. Registration is usually required for this type of wallets and in return, you will receive a unique login ID and a user-generated password in order to log in.
What is a Hardware Bitcoin wallet?
A hardware wallet is exactly what it sounds like, a hardware device, usually in the form of a USB, on which the private keys are stored. Hardware wallets are one of the safest ways to store Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as they don’t have a direct connection to the web.
What is a Paper Bitcoin wallet?
A paper wallet is literary writing of your private keys on paper that you keep in a secured place that is normally a safe. This can be the most secure method if done correctly because like the hardware wallet, it requires physical access to access the assets stored behind the private keys.
Exodus is a crypto wallet that supports a wide range of crypto assets and is available on desktop and mobile devices. There is also a version of Exodus that is supported by the Trezor hardware wallet. The wallet is constantly updated with a release window of 2 weeks per update. Exodus was founded in 2015 by JP Richardson and Daniel Castagnoli, their priority was to make it easier to use Bitcoin wallet. The main feature of Exodus is its user-friendly environment and with a goal to remove the overly complicated requirements while maintaining a good design.
The desktop version of the wallet supports over 110+ cryptocurrencies, while the mobile version supports 55 cryptocurrencies. The Exodus mobile app is available on the App Store and Google Play, while the desktop version is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Exodus wallet is available on:
The wallet supports the exchange of crypto to crypto internally, e.g. you can exchange Bitcoin for Ethereum and vice versa directly in the wallet.
2. Jaxx Liberty
Jaxx is a crypto wallet that provides the ability to store more than 90 cryptocurrencies. This is one of the crypto wallets that can overwhelm you with its interface at the beginning because all the features are introduced in advance. When you open the wallet, the user interface presents all the features such as the wallets, internal exchange through Shapeshift, market index, block explorer, portfolio, and news.
Jaxx Liberty is available on:
- Chrome Extension
Jaxx is available on desktop computers and different operating systems like macOS, Windows, and Linux. There is a mobile version for Android and iOS that provides the full desktop experience and a Chrome extension version.
One of the big advantages is that with Jaxx you can easily export all your public addresses and private keys. Jaxx also offers 24/7 support which is always available via email or social media.
Blockchain wallet is a web wallet that is easy to use but also has its disadvantages. The wallet provides storage for the following cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Stellar and USD-D. The Blockchain Wallet requires you to create an account that can be accessed using a Wallet ID and a user-created password. The company that developed the wallet, Blockchain, is based in Luxembourg, a country that has a solid legal structure and values the protection of individual privacy.
Blockchain wallet is available on:
- Google Chrome
The Blockchain wallet has good security features, low transaction fees, and the ability to exchange the available cryptocurrencies internally via Shapeshift. You can buy cryptocurrencies directly in the wallet with debit, credit cards from 36 countries. The wallet interface is very user friendly, clean, and effective, making it one of the better online solutions for storing your cryptocurrencies. Although storage options are limited, Blockchain.com provides the user-friendly experience required for people new to the crypto industry.
There is more than one product on the Blockchain website that offers more investment opportunities in one place. An exchange with military-grade security where you can trade more than 26 pairs, deposit and withdraw 4 fiat currencies. Blockchain Markets is a product for professionals, it is an institutional feature that offers trading, custody, and in-depth market research for institutional clients.
Samourai is a Bitcoin wallet that emphasizes on privacy, keeping transactions private and masks identities to the highest possible level. It is a wallet that is only available on Android mobile devices, with additional instruments available for desktop computers. The Samourai wallet has features that are not available on most crypto wallets. Features such as Ricochet, Stonewall, PayNym, Intelligent Alerts, No Address Reuse and Merge Avoidance. All these privacy features make the wallet a unique offering for anyone looking for a highly secure and privacy-oriented mobile Bitcoin wallet.
Samourai is available on:
Another outstanding feature of the Samourai wallet is the full offline mode. This feature allows you to bypass data network restrictions and limitations. You can send transactions via SMS to the Bitcoin network or to the mesh network, which in turn supports the goTenna mesh network. Samourai can send transactions via Whirlpool, where you break the connection between outgoing and incoming Bitcoin transactions.
Samourai gives the user full control over the private keys. The private keys never leave the boundaries of your device, so your mobile device basically becomes a private Swiss bank in your pocket. The wallet uses industry-standard encryption – AES-256, and a forced BIP39 passphrase that secures the wallet core.
Wasabi is a privacy-oriented Bitcoin wallet that is only available on desktop. It is an open-source, non-custodial wallet that implements coin shuffling for increased transaction privacy. The private keys are securely stored under strong encryption on the device where the wallet is installed. All traffic goes through Tor by default, which provides additional security from the first moment you use Wasabi. You can send Bitcoins via the Coinjoin service, where multiple participants combine their Bitcoins in one large transaction with multiple inputs and outputs.
Wasabi is available on:
- Windows 10
Despite all the privacy features that Wasabi offers, the user experience is very poor. For developers and crypto enthusiasts this is not a problem, but for new retail investors in Bitcoin, Wasabi may not be a good choice due to its complexity. There are too many options and if a user doesn’t have extensive technical knowledge it can lead to a mistake and an undesirable loss. Otherwise, if you are looking for a privacy-based wallet that gives you full control over your Bitcoins, Wasabi might be the right choice for you.
Trezor is a hardware wallet launched in 2014, offering one of the most secure ways to store your Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies. Private keys are stored offline on the device itself, which is disconnected from the Internet 90% of the time, the only connection being when you want to send cryptocurrencies. The hardware wallet supports over 1000 cryptocurrencies, is highly secure, and you have the option to purchase a fully anodized aluminum handmade Trezor wallet that provides the ultimate physical protection.
On the Trezor website, there is a dedicated Wiki that includes all of the useful information. There is a user manual, security explanations, for developers, for business, and more. Trezor is created by SatoshiLabs s.r.o. based in Praga, Czech Republic. The wallet recovery seed uses a universal standard created by SatoshiLabs that is commonly used in many bitcoin wallets.
Ledger is another hardware wallet created in 2014 by experts with complementary backgrounds in security, cryptocurrencies, and entrepreneurship. The Ledger hardware wallet is a direct competitor to Trezor as they offer fairly similar products. In the Ledger Wallet, you can store a large number of different cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Monero, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, Dogecoin, and more. Overall Ledger offers a variety of options for storage on your hardware device at an affordable price tag.
There is a special support page where you can find a complete guide to using the Ledger hardware wallet, additional information about various products, orders, and shipping. Ledger has a certified secure chip and a custom operating system, which in turn provides very high security. More than 1 million users use the Ledger hardware wallet, which in turn proves the credibility of the hardware wallet.
Electrum is one of the first Bitcoin wallets created for desktop computers by Thomas Voegtlin in 2011. The wallet is full of features compared to other Bitcoin wallets, but the user experience is not good. When you start the wallet after the installation, it will look like a program from the Windows XP era. Otherwise, Electrum is considered a fast, secure, and reliable desktop wallet. If you are new to Bitcoin, we recommend that you find another, more user-friendly wallet.
Electrum is available on:
Electrum is an open-source lite bitcoin wallet that does not download the whole bitcoin blockchain in order to work. Support for hardware wallets like Trezor and Ledger is available. When you install Electrum you can create a wallet with two-factor authentication and a multi-signature wallet right from the start. Electrum gives you full access and control over the private keys that never leave your device.
Mycelium is a mobile Bitcoin wallet developed by a team of hardware engineers. The company was founded in 2008 for a mesh networking project, but with the launch of Bitcoin, Mycelium gradually learned towards developing it. Mycelium won one of the crypto industry’s most prestigious awards – “Best Mobile App” in 2014. The wallet has a good UI design and is easy to navigate, considering how many functions the wallet has.
You can buy and sell bitcoin indirectly in the wallet with debit and credit cards, SEPA transfers, and on the OTC marketplace. The third-party provider for buying Bitcoin with debit and credit cards is Simplex, for SEPA transfers the provider is Bitsofgold. The Mycelium marketplace is the wallet’s OTC option, it shows nearby buyers and sellers trading Bitcoin near a location specified by the user.
Mycelium is available for:
Mycelium wallet allows full control over private keys and transaction fees while providing high security and protection for your Bitcoins. The Tor network is available on Mycelium, where the wallet communicates with the backend servers via the Tor network, increasing privacy and routing around firewalls. This wallet is for people who are new to the Bitcoin industry and want a user-friendly experience while having full control over their Bitcoins.
BRD is a mobile Bitcoin wallet that is very user-friendly and at the same time offers full control over your private keys that can be exported at any time. The wallet is perfect for beginners due to its simple and effective design, suitable for people of all ages who are not yet familiar with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. The BRD Wallet supports over 100 cryptocurrencies, making it a universal wallet for mobile devices.
BRD is available for:
The BRD Wallet is an open-source project with customers from over 150 countries. The wallet is in partnership with Coinify, Simplex, and Wyre to provide the option to buy cryptocurrencies in the wallet.
The Edge Wallet was created back in 2013 and is available for Android and iOS offering state-of-the-art security and high user privacy. The user interface is pretty good but lags behind some of the other wallets that offer very user-friendly UI designs. You can store multiple cryptocurrencies, with more being added all the time. When you create your wallet, Edge prompts you to create a username and password that are stored only on your mobile device. A PIN is also required to unlock the wallet and you can set up password recovery by answering questions.
Edge is available on:
You can buy and sell Bitcoin in your wallet through third parties. To buy Bitcoin in your wallet, you can choose from Faster Payments powered by Banxa, SEPA Bank Transfer powered by Bity, Credit, and Debit Cards powered by Simplex and MoonPay. For selling Bitcoin through Edge, the options are SEPA Bank Transfer powered by Bity and Bitsofgold, Gift Cards powered by Bitrefill. The direct exchange of crypto to crypto is possible on Edge thanks to Shapeshift.
The bitcoin.com wallet is a wallet that supports Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. The Wallet is available for Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, and Linux. With a very convenient design, the bitcoin.com Wallet keeps things fresh and is suitable for newcomers to the crypto industry. There is one negative about the wallet because it emphasizes Bitcoin Cash first, which in turn can confuse new users.
Bitcoin.com wallet is available for:
In the wallet, you will find additional information such as nearby shops that accept cryptocurrencies, swap to different altcoins and stable coins, information on buying airline tickets, hotels, and car rentals with Bitcoin Cash and much more. However, this is not a wallet where you want to keep the majority of your Bitcoins. The bitcoin.com wallet is more suitable for everyday use, with small amounts of money stored on it most of the time.
How to install a Bitcoin wallet?
Installing a bitcoin wallet is a very simple procedure. First, you need to download the version that is compatible with your operating system. Installing the wallet is like installing any other computer program by following simple steps during the installation.
How to store your private keys and back-up phrases?
Ensuring that your private keys are protected and stored in a safe place should be a top priority. Once the wallet is installed and before you deposit your Bitcoins, write down your private keys on paper or in any other appropriate way that you think is secure enough in the long run. The next step is to secure the paper on which the private key is written. Make sure that you do not use paper of inferior quality and that you are the only one who knows that you have written your private key on it and where it is stored.
One of the best options is to have a safe in a secure place and to keep important documents there. You can even put the “paper wallet” in a bank safe if you are not sure that you can store it securely by yourself.
You can always do more for your privacy and thus secure your Bitcoins even better. Let’s start with the most obvious. Never walk with a wallet on your phone full of Bitcoins. You do not know when you might be robbed or accidentally lose your phone. Even though you will have your private keys secured somewhere else, you can mitigate the risk by having two phones. One for everyday use and one designated for crypto transactions. Of course, you can carry some crypto with you at all times, but only tiny amounts.
Secondly, you can use private wallets and split your crypto between different accounts. Never say that you have crypto. There is a probability that someone may have nefarious thoughts around you. By dividing your crypto to different accounts and transact from a third or fourth account you are in a better position from a privacy standpoint.
Maintaining control over your private keys is crucial, to make it more clear to understand it is basically – you personally holding the key to your vault, having direct control. Not learning how to access and store your private keys and back-up phrases can lead to an undesired loss. There are a lot of stories of how people mismanaged their Bitcoin wallets in the past which resulted in the loss of thousands of Bitcoins that are now worth millions.