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What is a Bitcoin Wallet?

A bitcoin wallet is a digital notecase for holding bitcoins. More accurately, a wallet stores the private keys required to unlock a bitcoin address and formalize a transaction. You need a wallet for you to be able to transact with bitcoins or own the currency. Bitcoin wallets come in three main varieties, specially designed for diverse computing devices. The various types include mobile wallets, software wallet, web wallet, hardware wallet, and paper wallet. All these different kinds of wallets have their pros and cons.

1. Desktop/Software bitcoin wallet
In this kind of software, you have to install the wallet software on your personal computer, either a desktop or a laptop. The users have total control of the desktop wallet. Furthermore, software wallets allow users to generate a bitcoin address to perform transactions. Also, they store a user’s private keys. Among the most common software wallets include; Electrum, Hive OS X, MultiBit, Armory, Bitcoin Core.

2. Mobile bitcoin wallet
Users can install these types of wallets on mobile phone devices. A mobile wallet is convenient because of portability. Users can run the software in their smartphones, and perform the same functions as they would on a desktop computer. The various mobile wallets include the Hive Android, Bitcoin Wallet, and Mycelium Bitcoin Wallet.

3. Web bitcoin wallet
Web-based wallets hold private keys on servers of third parties online. Numerous companies on the internet offer these services to clients. The significant benefit with online wallets is that users can access their account wherever they want, either by mobile or a web browser.
You can then link your bitcoin wallet to your bank account or to your bitcoin trading account if you wish to speculate on the bitcoin price.

The disadvantage is that the company hosting the online wallet can take total control of your bitcoins. The most popular web wallets include Coinbase, Blockchain, and Bitcoin Core.

4. Hardware bitcoin wallet
Currently, the number of hardware wallets is limited. Hardware wallets are special gadgets that are capable of holding private keys and facilitating payments. Nevertheless, the wallets are in the development stage. The most common include the Trezor hardware wallet and the Ledger USB wallet.

5. Paper bitcoin wallet
A paper wallet is one of the most inexpensive and accessible ways of safeguarding your bitcoins. Unlike other forms of storage, paper wallets are not operated digitally. Hence, they are not prone to hardware failure or theft.

Wallet security
Users need to be extra cautious if they opt for a mobile or software wallet. When you store Bitcoins in gadgets like computers and phones, it is easy to lose your money in case of damage. Besides, thieves can steal your device and gain access to your bitcoins.
There are number of things you can do to ensure your wallet is secure:
- Do a full backup occasionally. You can use another computer, or a flash disk to perform the backups.
- Utilize encryption features. An encryption key will prevent unauthorized users from accessing your device since they will require a login password.
- Always remember your password. If you misplace your password, you will lose all your money. Write down your password somewhere and do not share it with anyone.

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