A bitcoin wallet is anything that stores a bitcoin balance. You can spend and receive bitcoin on most wallets, while others are for long-term offline storage. These wallets can take many forms, including software applications on a desktop or smartphone, hardware devices, or even something physically printed.
For daily spending or online payments, most beginners should use a smartphone app or desktop wallet. There is generally no requirement for real names or ID to use these, just download and go.
Software and Hardware Wallets
User-friendly wallets have different ways to store private keys. Some generate them all from a single “seed phrase” stored locally. This means you can access your wallet on any device, even if the original is lost/stolen. But be sure to keep that initial seed phrase safe.
Others have centralized password-storage or even centralized private key storage. These are a better option if you tend to forget passwords, but remember: if you’re able to recover your password from a centralized provider, someone else may be able to as well.
Please see BitsOnline’s mobile wallet brief guide for a taste of what’s available. You’ll also see what features are better for the way you use bitcoin.
Other Wallet Forms
These forms of storage are more secure as they’re not connected to any device that might be hacked, and they have more chance at surviving natural disasters. However, if a key is generated on a compromised device connected to the internet, the address isn’t secure no matter where you print it. Don’t let others generate your wallet keys for you — and use only a computer you’re 100% certain is secure to create new wallets.
Better still, don’t keep all your bitcoins in one wallet. Spread them around.
What’s your preferred bitcoin wallet? Let us know.
Now that you know what a bitcoin wallet is, you may have even more questions, such as:
Image via Pixabay, CryptoSteel