10 Steps to a Better Bitcoin Wallet

A very common question from new and current bitcoin owners alike is “What bitcoin wallet is best?” The answers to this are as varied as the needs and functionality desired of each user. One size does not fit all, and this article will cover the necessary steps that need to be considered when creating and maintaining a bitcoin wallet.

Basic security measures

Start with the basics. Do you want to use a popular online wallet like Blockchain.info, which controls your private keys? This increases the potential for you to fall prey to a mass hacker. More people use Blockchain.info than any other wallet, with millions of accounts already created, but they have not proven immune to hacking of these wallets.

Or do you want to use a downloadable wallet or app that may need periodic updating, but may provide more security in exchange for some convenience from an online ready wallet?

Check to see if the wallet offers its own internal data encryption measures and two-factor authorization, like requiring a password and a separate code for access that can be kept online or offline, or can be emailed to you upon entry.

Where are your private keys?

The holder of the keys is the owner of the bitcoins. Just ask those unfortunate souls who lost their shirts in the Mt. Gox collapse. Holding your own private key is always the best move, no matter how trustworthy someone else may seem. Owning a bitcoin wallet is a constant struggle between convenience and security. Don’t cut corners here. Hold onto your private keys!

Multi-Signature

One of the many great security innovations Bitcoin has wrought is multi-signature, or multi-sig, which didn’t exist before a couple of years ago. It is most practical for long-term, offline storage applications and requires more than one person or entity to authorize a transaction, so it is not terribly practical for a daily Bitcoin user.

If there are three keys, and you only have one, and two keys are needed to create a transaction, the chances for theft drop dramatically.

One can be kept with a friend or relative, and one in a safe deposit box or vault offline. Probably best if you save some bitcoins in one wallet long-term like a “cold wallet.” However, it’s best not to keep all of your bitcoins in one wallet anyway.

Open-Source Wallet Code

Wallet companies may ask you for information to be compliant and you should do the same. Is the wallet code open-source, like the wallet from Coinomi? This is becoming increasingly common, but it’s best to always check.

In other words, you want a fully transparent operation to work with and not some company operating as a frontman while subcontracting to another wallet that you don’t know anything about. You need to know how they do business, and who they are really protecting.

HD Wallets

An HD wallet stands for Hierarchical Deterministic and this gives the ability to obtain a new public key address every time funds come in, dramatically enhancing security. Most wallets just provide one just address, making the user easy to track the more the wallet is used. This is a great option to have if you prefer not to leave to many footprints on the internet.

HD wallet

Identity Protection vs. Compliance

Some people are more compliant than others. Giving your information out online carries its own risks, and more and more wallet providers are asking for personal information of bitcoin wallet owners to be compliant with government regulators.

This covers the wallet providers, but makes the owner easier to track, tax, hack from a centralized database, etc. You must decide if you want to make life easier for a wallet provider and regulators or do you want more anonymity with your bitcoin transactions.

Location, Location, Location

Do you roll with the NSA or FSB in your country? Where you are in the world and how heavily regulated the area is important. Some places have never heard or recognized Bitcoin and will give your free reign over your bitcoin, while others are scheming on how to suppress it or tax it to pay national debts.

If the wallet provider is in the wrong country, your bitcoin could be subject to confiscation by domestic authorities or tracking of your transactions, hiding behind the guise of thwarting “terrorist activities.” You may want to think long-term about how you handle where you live versus where you do bitcoin transactions.

Ease of use

Security and ease of use have generally been mutually exclusive so far in the bitcoin wallet world. Gen