What Are Bitcoin Wallets
Types of Wallets
There are many different ways to use Bitcoin and so there are many different types of wallets:
- Online bitcoin wallets. Wallets that can be accessed on the web from any internet connected device.
- Bitcoin hardware wallets. Physical devices designed to secure bitcoins.
- Software wallets. Wallet applications downloaded to your phone, computer or tablet.
- Paper wallets. Bitcoin private keysprinted from an offline computer.
are small computers or smartcards built with the sole purpose of generating Bitcoin private keys offline. Hardware wallets securely sign transactions in the same offline environment.
Any wallet that does not come in a physical format can be considered a software wallet (with the exception of brain wallets, but those can be tricky to secure and aren’t generally recommended). Given the nature of software, though, these types of wallets can exist on any computer, as well as on mobile phones. Some software wallets, called “web” wallets, exist as applications accessible by web browser.
Desktop wallets are software wallets that are downloaded and installed on your computer. The desktop wallets below are available on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux.
Paper wallets were the standard method of cold storage before hardware wallets were built. Paper wallets are private keys printed out on a piece of paper. If generated and printed with a secure, offline computer, paper wallets are secure cold storage.
The main problem with paper wallets is it can be inconvenient to create and print a new wallet each time you send funds to cold storage. However, it’s possible to bulk print paper wallets to save time and eliminate address reuse. Our cold storage guide explains step-by-step how to create a secure paper wallet.
WHICH BITCOIN WALLET SHOULD YOU USE?
In order to avoid recommending outdated wallet solutions, Bitcoin Magazine highly recommends referring to a couple of regularly updated sources for reliable wallets. Btcinformation.org and bitcoin.org are great resources listing options for hardware, desktop, mobile and web wallets.