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Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:25 am

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One of the most essential things when it comes to a cryptocurency like bitcoin is to have somewhere safe to store it. It's almost impossible to brute force into your bitcoin wallet, however it's worlds easier to drop malware into a computer that takes your passwords and wallet files. So how best to store your bitcoin?

Image
-Coindesk, Bitcoin Security

I'll categorise wallets into six parts::

  • Hardware Wallets
    Multisig Wallets
    Normal Wallets
    Paper Wallets
    Web Wallets
    Dedicated Cold Wallets


Hardware Wallets
A hardware wallet is a bitcoin wallet that uses physical storage. At the moment, this is definitely one of the best storage options available. The current norm of these is the concept of your private key being stored on the physical wallet itself, either in a credit-card-like chip, or an encyrpted storage form. They are coded specifically so that malware cannot access the private keys. Therefore the only way to succesfully retrieve your private key is to have a virus intercept the recovery key given to you when initializing the wallet.

Image
-Trezor hardware wallet

This wallet is best for a single user.

You can find a thread listing these here: alternative-clients/overview-bitcoin-ha ... -t200.html

My personal recommendation is simply based on budget.

<$2o: Ledger HW.1 (My personal choice and what I currently use. One downside is that it cannot sign messages. Review here: http://www.cryptodot.com/home/hardware- ... ledger-hw1)
<$40: Ledger Nano (Exact same as the HW.1 but with different build quality and a leather card slip. Cannot sign messages.)
<$70: Ledger Nano S (A cheaper alternative to the more expensive trezor, however the trezor is more flexible. Not sure if able to sign messages)
~$100: Trezor Wallet or KeepKey (The latter is more fashionable, however the former is more trusted and more rigid/sturdy).
>$100: Case Wallet (This wallet is more gauged toward the everyday spender. You can send only through scanning QR codes, but it is a standalone device and you can send it from almost anywhere without an accompanying computer.)

Pros:
- Great security
- Not the broadest range to choose from
- Great portability
- Good value for security

Cons:
- Not free
- Vulnerability when first generating recovery seed
- Owner needs to remember/keep recovery seed

Multisig Wallets

Multisig wallets are wallets that take advantage of multiple signature technology. A wallet has an odd number (usually 3) of private keys, which are held by more than one party. There are many uses of this -
  • If a hacker gains control of only one private key, they will need more to have control over the wallet.
    If there is a group transaction, an equal amount of power can be distributed between parties
    In a p2p trade, the odd key can be used by an escrow/middleman
Image
-BitGo visual explanation of the multisignature process

This wallet is best for a single user or small group.

A good list of these wallets can be found here: http://bravenewcoin.com/news/the-best-m ... -for-2016/

My personal preference is BitGo, as they were the first to release their wallet with multisig and is supposedly have been developing their wallet the longest. They also have insurance, a huge plus.
NOTE: The recent bitfinex hack has been linked with BitGo, due to both BitGo and Bitfinex having compromised keys. They supposedly have fixed this issue.

Pros:
- Some wallets provide insurance
- High security, low effect on performance and user experience

Cons:
- Wallet provider and 3rd party can tram up and steal your coins
- If the provider is compromised, effectively everyone using it has the same security as a normal wallet

Normal Wallets

Image

A normal wallet is a wallet that is akin to Bitcoin Core, without any add-on security measures. These wallets can be split into two categories, SPV and Full wallets. These can be password-encrypted, however a simple keylogger can get past these security measures.

This wallet is best for a single user


Full wallets download the whole blockchain, the public ledger of all bitcoin transactions in history, currently totaling to over 100 gigabytes. This is a hassle for some people as they may not have enough storage, or cannot bear to sync their wallet for almost a week for the first time, downloading the whole blockchain from scratch.

SPV wallets only download the block headers of each block, which in comparison to the whole blockchain, is tiny. The wallet will connect to external nodes to retrieve their copy of the blockchain instead, only retrieving the information they need and effectively removing and sync times. The problem with these however is that your information is at the hands of the node your wallet connects to. A malicious node could easily lie to your wallet about your balances and transactions. In actuality they will stay the same, but could cause you a heart attack. :)

Pros:
- Traditional wallet, has all core features
- Ability to host full node
- Normal wallets provide powerful in built tools and a console that most other wallets don't
- SPV wallets are lightweight

Cons:
- No security besides encryption that is password-encrypted
- No 2FA
- Full wallets take up a LOT of space
- No more CPU mining capability

Paper Wallets

This wallet is best for long term storage, for use of a single user.

These wallets, usually used for long term storage, are made of - yes, you guessed it - paper. A paper wallet is a private key and a bitcoin address printed on a paper, usually with accompanying QR codes to make it easier to send and withdraw from. The use of these is that if generated properly, the private key will never touch the internet and also any malware. You will want to generate one offline, and print it offline. However a good virus may still operate while your computer is offline, and could still take the private key and send it to the hacker once you bring the computer offline. That's if you do bring it back online.

Image
-OpenPaperWallet design

To load up the wallet, you deposit into the public key. To send from the wallet, you will need to open a bitcoin wallet application on your computer and input the private key.

A good thing about a paper wallet is it's lifespan. Good ink and paper will take years to start fading, especially if in a place like a bank vault, where it is temperature controlled. If you store your private key in a USB, the memory chip may some day just crash.

Pros:
- Long lifespan
- Cheap to produce
- The "poor man's cold wallet"

Cons:
- Not as portable as a hardware wallet
- Can get lost easily

Web Wallets

These wallets are hosted on the internet. These are usually the some of least secure wallets, after normal wallets. This is because in most cases, when using a web wallet, you are not actually in control of the funds. The website is. They hold your bitcoin and when you send bitcoin, they send it for you. There is only one exception to this list. Blockchain.info. They hold your bitcoin private key for you, but as an encrypted payload. They have no access to it, however they are in control of it. As if you have the key, but they have the chest. Only you can access it by putting in your password, where your browser decrypts the payload live. Blockchaininfo also supports two-factor authentication, where they ask you for a phone, email, sms or google authenticator code before sending you the payload. Another level of security.

Image
-Image of my own wallet - Transactions removed for privacy :)

This wallet is best for a single user.

The problem with this is of course if blockchain,info goes down. Down goes your information, and if you have not saved a backup of your private key, you're doomed. But if you were to save a backup of a private key, then you would need somewhere safe to store it like a dedicated USB. USBs these days only cost a tiny bit less than a Ledger HW.1, so why not get that?

Pros:
- Convenience
- Accessible from anywhere online

Cons:
- Very low security

Dedicated Cold Storage

This form of storage, as opposed to the common term "hot wallet", (a wallet constantly connected to the internet) is very much the opposite. It is a wallet that has never touched the internet. A dedicated cold storage solution is a dedicated device that has never touched the internet. It is a costly but impossible to hack into when done properly.

Image
-blog.adafruit.com - You can use a relativelyinexpensive device like a Raspberry Pi to host your cold wallet

To use this solution, you need your dedicated unit, which will generate the offline transaction hash, signed with the private key. You copy this transaction hash to your computer which is connected to the internet, and broadcast it. Therefore the computer that holds the private key has not touched the internet in this procedure.

This wallet is best for use of large companies. It's overkill for a single user, unless they have a whole lot of funds stored.

To send the bitcoin, all you need is for the offline wallet to generate a receiving address, and send your bitcoin to it.

Pros:
- Very high security
- Good for commercial use

Cons:
- Has to be manually overseen
- Very hard to automate
- Overkill
- Costs alot

Personal Notes

Honestly, I wouldn't choose anything but a hardware wallet. They are the most secure, and relatively cheap when compared to a cold storage solution. If you really don't want to spend anything however, use a multisig wallet like BitGo. If you're a company that handles a large amount of bitcoin, like an exchange, only withdraw what you need every day from cold storage, so if you get hacked, only that small amount will be taken, not your total amount in storage.

I personally own a HW.1 and have never been happier. May even be upgrading to a trezor soon.

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Last edited by Decoded on Fri Dec 23, 2016 8:46 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Tue Oct 18, 2016 6:03 pm

Thank you for this guide. As someone who only used online wallets up until very recently find this one to be very helpful.

One Q: What hardware wallet would you recommend to a first-timer? The HW.1 or the trezor? Or something else, simpler perhaps?

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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Tue Oct 18, 2016 9:25 pm

Thank you for this guide. As someone who only used online wallets up until very recently find this one to be very helpful.

One Q: What hardware wallet would you recommend to a first-timer? The HW.1 or the trezor? Or something else, simpler perhaps?
Then you! If you have the budget, get a Trezor. It's well documented and lots of people own one. If you have any problems, you can simply post a question here, on bitcointalk it even on bitcoin.stackexchange.com and you will get your wet question solved.

The Hw.1 is good for beginners, but the Trezor is more future proof it you want to continue down your crypto journey, as the Trezor has some unique features that all Ledger devices don't.
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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Wed Oct 19, 2016 9:36 am

You seem to have missed out the KeepKey hardware wallet. I don't have it myself but it's a very good looking wallet and priced as much as a Trezor at $99.

https://www.keepkey.com/

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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Wed Oct 19, 2016 12:17 pm

You seem to have missed out the KeepKey hardware wallet. I don't have it myself but it's a very good looking wallet and priced as much as a Trezor at $99.

https://www.keepkey.com/
I am fully aware of the KeepKey, however I don't recommend it as much as I do the trezor.

The Trezor has more support across multiple wallets, is much more sturdy, has a bigger name, and another fact is that the Trezor 2.0 is coming out very soon.

However will add. It's more fashional, but the Trezor is more functional.

Also didn't know the price was reduced so drastically, from almost $250!
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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Wed Oct 19, 2016 2:17 pm

I would choose trezor on hardware wallets and would be recommended especially when you have huge possesion of bitcoin. Paper wallets would do also and never intend to store large amount of bitcoins on web wallets.
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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:57 pm

I would choose trezor on hardware wallets and would be recommended especially when you have huge possesion of bitcoin. Paper wallets would do also and never intend to store large amount of bitcoins on web wallets.
Without doubt, hardware wallets are the best value for the security they provide. However the Trezor is not necessarily the best hardware wallet.
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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Thu Oct 20, 2016 12:01 am

Rather than use a "paper" wallet there is CryptoSteel http://cryptosteel.com/. Affordable and much more resilient.

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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Thu Oct 20, 2016 3:31 am

I would choose trezor on hardware wallets and would be recommended especially when you have huge possesion of bitcoin. Paper wallets would do also and never intend to store large amount of bitcoins on web wallets.
Not recommended to save you all bitcoin to online web
A good options to store in the hardrware or paper wallet. keepkey and trezor is a great the hardware wallets.
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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Thu Oct 20, 2016 3:58 am

I would choose trezor on hardware wallets and would be recommended especially when you have huge possesion of bitcoin. Paper wallets would do also and never intend to store large amount of bitcoins on web wallets.
Not recommended to save you all bitcoin to online web
A good options to store in the hardrware or paper wallet. keepkey and trezor is a great the hardware wallets.
Exactly my point.
Rather than use a "paper" wallet there is CryptoSteel http://cryptosteel.com/. Affordable and much more resilient.
A cryptosteel only keeps your recovery key the same. It should be used in tandem with a hardware wallet, not a replacement of a paper wallet. If you use a cryptosteel, you still need somewhere to put your key into.
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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Thu Oct 20, 2016 8:08 am

You seem to have missed out the KeepKey hardware wallet. I don't have it myself but it's a very good looking wallet and priced as much as a Trezor at $99.

https://www.keepkey.com/
I am fully aware of the KeepKey, however I don't recommend it as much as I do the trezor.

The Trezor has more support across multiple wallets, is much more sturdy, has a bigger name, and another fact is that the Trezor 2.0 is coming out very soon.

However will add. It's more fashional, but the Trezor is more functional.

Also didn't know the price was reduced so drastically, from almost $250!
Yes I wouldn't have mentioned it if it costed the same as initially. Maaan that was a lot of dosh.
I think it looks the best than all of them and I think there will be a version 2 for keepKey as well seen that Ledger has already a new device and Trezor is working on one too. Glad to see competition coming up which hopefully means more and better products to chose from and maybe even better prices. :)

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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Fri Oct 21, 2016 8:23 pm




A cryptosteel only keeps your recovery key the same. It should be used in tandem with a hardware wallet, not a replacement of a paper wallet. If you use a cryptosteel, you still need somewhere to put your key into.
Yup, I misstated my case. The CryptoSteel is ONLY to replace the paper key backup.

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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Wed Nov 30, 2016 4:49 pm

I was rather wary of the Trezor -- partly price and partly not sure how well it would work.

I finally broke down and got it after talking to several of the people connected with the project (who are all very helpful). It's been amazing. All my 'stash' except for a few odd bucks here and there are on it. I've started using the U2F function as well to secure my gmail.

I can't wait till the Trezor 2 comes along (just hope it's under 100$ like this old Trezor!). It seems from what they've released so far it will follow the minimalistic approach while being even more secure than the earlier Trezor.
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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Wed Nov 30, 2016 5:12 pm

If you ever need help with TREZOR or are just wondering about it, the team at SatoshiLabs is quite active on reddit (/r/trezor) or on Telegram. There is a dedicated chatroom for TREZOR topics too (https://telegram.me/trezortalk).

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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Wed Nov 30, 2016 9:21 pm

I was rather wary of the Trezor -- partly price and partly not sure how well it would work.

I finally broke down and got it after talking to several of the people connected with the project (who are all very helpful). It's been amazing. All my 'stash' except for a few odd bucks here and there are on it. I've started using the U2F function as well to secure my gmail.

I can't wait till the Trezor 2 comes along (just hope it's under 100$ like this old Trezor!). It seems from what they've released so far it will follow the minimalistic approach while being even more secure than the earlier Trezor.
Yep. The Trezor 2 is coming out early 2017 if I'm not mistaken, and personally ive been holding my Bitcoin to buy one. Hopefully they improve the customisation and the UI, or maybe even a third party can come up with Trezor skins!

A few things I would like to see in the trezor 2 -
- Wireless connectivity (NFC or the like)
- Better UI
- Higher definition screen
- Non plastic build

Another thing I might add is that the trezor only costs 26 dollars to manufacture. Maybe if the trezor 2 cones out, the $100 research and development fee will be removed.
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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Thu Dec 01, 2016 3:26 pm


Yep. The Trezor 2 is coming out early 2017 if I'm not mistaken, and personally ive been holding my Bitcoin to buy one. Hopefully they improve the customisation and the UI, or maybe even a third party can come up with Trezor skins!

A few things I would like to see in the trezor 2 -
- Wireless connectivity (NFC or the like)
- Better UI
- Higher definition screen
- Non plastic build

Another thing I might add is that the trezor only costs 26 dollars to manufacture. Maybe if the trezor 2 cones out, the $100 research and development fee will be removed.

Trezor 2 release date has not been set yet, but it's optimistically forecasted to come out around Q2/2017.

Trezor 2 will have a full color touchscreen and an environment for custom applications/firmware (TREZOR Core), so there is definitely room for customization.

More info on our blog.

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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Thu Dec 01, 2016 8:50 pm

Currently in thoughts of getting myself an early Christmas gift. Looks right now that I'm leaning towards the Trezor. Yay or Nay, what do you think?

Should I wait for Trezor 2 if I actually can wait, or should I go ahead and order the available Trezor and be happy with it?

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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:08 pm

Currently in thoughts of getting myself an early Christmas gift. Looks right now that I'm leaning towards the Trezor. Yay or Nay, what do you think?

Should I wait for Trezor 2 if I actually can wait, or should I go ahead and order the available Trezor and be happy with it?
It would be a great idea to wait for the Trezor 2, as long as its in your price range. If it's nothing more than the current price, waiting a couple of months will be a huge benefit to you.

But if you really want something now, the Trezor is still a good option. But then again, if you want you could also get a Ledger Nano S.
Last edited by Decoded on Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:09 pm

Currently in thoughts of getting myself an early Christmas gift. Looks right now that I'm leaning towards the Trezor. Yay or Nay, what do you think?

Should I wait for Trezor 2 if I actually can wait, or should I go ahead and order the available Trezor and be happy with it?
It would be a great idea to wait for the Trezor 2, as long as its in your price range. If it's nothing more than the current price, waiting a couple of months will be a huge benefit to you.

But if you really want something now, the Trezor is still a good option. But then again, if you want you could also get a Ledger Nano S.
Yeah, I've been drawn between the Nano S and the Trezor. But it's not that I really need one ASAP, so I might just end up waiting a couple of months for the Trezor 2 then. Appreciate it :)

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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:15 pm


Yep. The Trezor 2 is coming out early 2017 if I'm not mistaken, and personally ive been holding my Bitcoin to buy one. Hopefully they improve the customisation and the UI, or maybe even a third party can come up with Trezor skins!

A few things I would like to see in the trezor 2 -
- Wireless connectivity (NFC or the like)
- Better UI
- Higher definition screen
- Non plastic build

Another thing I might add is that the trezor only costs 26 dollars to manufacture. Maybe if the trezor 2 cones out, the $100 research and development fee will be removed.

Trezor 2 release date has not been set yet, but it's optimistically forecasted to come out around Q2/2017.

Trezor 2 will have a full color touchscreen and an environment for custom applications/firmware (TREZOR Core), so there is definitely room for customization.

More info on our blog.
Wow, first image ive seen of the new Trezor! I must say, it looks sexy! I'm definitely getting one of those, if theyre in my price range. With all the new hardware features, I wonder if you'll be able to stay under that $100 price range to stay competitive with the Nano S. Here the question comes - how much will it be?
Currently in thoughts of getting myself an early Christmas gift. Looks right now that I'm leaning towards the Trezor. Yay or Nay, what do you think?

Should I wait for Trezor 2 if I actually can wait, or should I go ahead and order the available Trezor and be happy with it?
It would be a great idea to wait for the Trezor 2, as long as its in your price range. If it's nothing more than the current price, waiting a couple of months will be a huge benefit to you.

But if you really want something now, the Trezor is still a good option. But then again, if you want you could also get a Ledger Nano S.
Yeah, I've been drawn between the Nano S and the Trezor. But it's not that I really need one ASAP, so I might just end up waiting a couple of months for the Trezor 2 then. Appreciate it :)
If you don't need it asap, based on the image given in their blog, by all means wait for it :)
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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Fri Dec 02, 2016 4:03 pm

big thank's, i had never used Hardware wallet before gonna give it a try

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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:33 am


Wow, first image ive seen of the new Trezor! I must say, it looks sexy! I'm definitely getting one of those, if theyre in my price range. With all the new hardware features, I wonder if you'll be able to stay under that $100 price range to stay competitive with the Nano S. Here the question comes - how much will it be?
There is no price set yet, but will probably stay around the current TREZOR price range. (TREZOR first started selling at $119, if I remember correctly)

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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Sun Dec 11, 2016 10:23 am

Thank you for this guide. As someone who only used online wallets up until very recently find this one to be very helpful.

One Q: What hardware wallet would you recommend to a first-timer? The HW.1 or the trezor? Or something else, simpler perhaps?
I wont talk about cold storage , as the question is #wallets related...#
My answer is simple:
1: harware wallet: trezor definitively...
2: electrum
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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Thu Dec 22, 2016 12:36 pm

Bump!

Remember, this is a community forum. If you want to contribute anything, don't hesitate to say, and I won't hesitate to add your info into the OP
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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Fri Dec 23, 2016 8:45 am

Up!

I've added images for all our sanity in this long post. :)
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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Fri Dec 23, 2016 3:32 pm

Thank you for this guide. As someone who only used online wallets up until very recently find this one to be very helpful.

One Q: What hardware wallet would you recommend to a first-timer? The HW.1 or the trezor? Or something else, simpler perhaps?
I wont talk about cold storage , as the question is #wallets related...#
My answer is simple:
1: harware wallet: trezor definitively...
2: electrum
3: phone; mycellium

Defcon23
Yeah, I'll most likely look at getting a trezor, the trezor 2 coming out beginning of next year looks to be really nice, so will hold off until then and probably get one of those :)

larryx2
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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Mon May 15, 2017 12:57 pm

Hi all, do I need to have a wallet first before buying the bitcoins, dash, eth, ripple etc? I'm thinking of holding them long term so I thought paper wallet might be the way to go. Assuming that I am only investing in these cryptocurrencies, paper wallet the way to go? Thank you, I'm just starting out.

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Decoded
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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Mon May 15, 2017 1:26 pm

Hi all, do I need to have a wallet first before buying the bitcoins, dash, eth, ripple etc? I'm thinking of holding them long term so I thought paper wallet might be the way to go. Assuming that I am only investing in these cryptocurrencies, paper wallet the way to go? Thank you, I'm just starting out.
Hey Larry.

Yes, you do need a wallet. A wallet is simply an application to generate and store your public keys (what you receive Bitcoin with) and your private keys (the key you need to verify you own the wallet). This is why it is imperative you have a good wallet and take proper safety precautions. If you're not interested in paying for a wallet right now, I would highly recommend Greenaddress.
theres a snake in my boot

larryx2
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Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Mon May 15, 2017 1:32 pm

Thank you decoded! I will check out green address.

larryx2
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon May 15, 2017 12:25 pm

Re: Guide: Bitcoin wallets - What's the best for you?

Tue May 16, 2017 6:15 am

BTW, is there a limit to how many wallets you can use? Do you use a minimum of 2 wallets or just one to hold all bitcoins, eth, dash, ripple etc?

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