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What exactly is a cryptocurrency wallet?


In a nutshell, a crypto wallet is a tool for interacting with a blockchain network. Various crypto wallet types can be divided into three categories: software, hardware, and paper wallets. They are also known as hot or cold wallets, depending on their working mechanisms.


The majority of cryptocurrency wallet providers are software-based, making them more convenient to use than hardware wallets. Hardware wallets, on the other hand, are the most secure option. Paper wallets, on the other hand, are made up of a "wallet" printed on a piece of paper, but they are now considered outdated and unreliable.


What exactly are bitcoin wallets, and how do they function?


Crypto wallets, contrary to popular belief, do not actually store cryptocurrencies. Rather, they provide the necessary tools for interacting with a blockchain. To put it another way, these wallets can generate the data needed to send and receive cryptocurrency through blockchain transactions. One or more pairs of public and private keys are among the items included in such information. The wallet also contains an address, which is an alphanumeric identifier created using public and private keys. In essence, a specific "location" on the blockchain to which coins can be sent is referred to as an address. This means you can share your address with others to receive funds, but your private key should never be shared.


Regardless of which wallet you use, the private key gives you access to your cryptocurrencies. As a result, even if your computer or smartphone is hacked, you can still access your funds on another device if you have the private key (or seed phrase). It's important to note that the coins are never truly removed from the blockchain; instead, they're simply transferred from one address to another. 


Wallets that are hot vs. wallets that are cold


As previously stated, cryptocurrency wallets can be classified as "hot" or "cold" depending on how they operate.


Any wallet that is connected to the Internet in some way is considered a hot wallet. When you sign up for a Binance account and send money to your wallets, you're depositing into Binance's hot wallet. These wallets are simple to set up and use, with funds available quickly, making them ideal for traders and other frequent users.


Cold wallets, on the other hand, do not have an Internet connection. Instead, they store the keys offline on a physical medium, making them resistant to online hacking attempts. As a result, cold wallets are a much safer way of "storing" your coins. Long-term investors, also known as "HODLers," will benefit from this method, which is also known as cold storage.


Binance only keeps a small percentage of coins in its hot wallets to protect users' funds. The rest is stored in cold storage and is not connected to the Internet. It's worth noting that Binance DEX is an option for users who don't want to keep their funds in a centralized exchange. It's a decentralized trading platform that gives you complete control over your clients' private keys while also allowing you to trade directly from their cold storage devices (hardware wallets).


Wallets for software


There are many different types of software wallets, each with its own set of characteristics. The majority of them are connected to the Internet in some way (hot wallets). The following are descriptions of the three most common and important types of wallets: web, desktop, and mobile.


Wallets on the internet


Web wallets allow you to access blockchains directly from your browser without having to download or install anything. Both exchange wallets and other browser-based wallet providers fall into this category.


In most circumstances, you can create a new wallet and protect it with a customized password. Some service providers, on the other hand, hold and manage your private keys on your behalf. This may be more convenient for inexperienced users, but it is a risky practice. You're entrusting your money to someone else if you don't keep your private keys. To remedy this issue, many web wallets now give you the option of managing your keys totally or through shared control (via multi-signatures). As a result, it's critical to examine each wallet's technical approach before deciding which is best for you.


When using bitcoin exchanges, you should think about employing various security features. Device management, multi-factor authentication, anti-phishing code, and withdrawal address control are just a few of the security features available on the Binance Exchange.


Wallets for the desktop


A desktop wallet, as the name implies, is software that you download and run locally on your computer. Desktop wallets, unlike other web-based ones, provide you complete control over your keys and funds. A file called "wallet.dat" will be saved locally on your computer when you create a new desktop wallet. You should encrypt this file using a personal password because it contains the private key information necessary to access your Bitcoin addresses.


If you encrypt your desktop wallet, you'll have to enter your password each time you launch the app to allow it to read the wallet.dat file. You will most likely lose access to your funds if you lose this file or forget your password.


As a result, it's critical to back up your wallet.dat file and store it safely. You can also export the private key or seed phrase that corresponds. You'll be able to access your funds on other devices if your computer breaks down or becomes unreachable for some reason.


In general, desktop wallets are considered safer than most web wallets, however before setting up and using a cryptocurrency wallet, make sure your computer is free of viruses and spyware.


Wallets for mobile phones


Mobile wallets are similar to desktop wallets, except they are created exclusively for smartphones. These are quite useful since they allow you to transmit and receive bitcoins via QR codes. As a result, mobile wallets are especially well-suited to everyday transactions and payments, making them a feasible choice for spending Bitcoin, BNB, and other cryptocurrencies in the real world. A popular example of a mobile crypto wallet is Trust Wallet.


Mobile devices, like desktops, are subject to rogue programs and malware infiltration. As a result, it's a good idea to password-protect your mobile wallet and back up your private keys (or seed phrase) in case your phone is lost or damaged.


Wallets made of metal


Hardware wallets are physical, electronic devices that produce public and private keys using a random number generator (RNG). The keys are then saved locally on the device, which is not linked to the Internet. As a result, hardware storage is classified as a sort of cold wallet and is considered one of the most secure options.


While digital wallets provide greater protection against internet attacks, they may pose hazards if the firmware is not properly implemented. In addition, when compared to hot wallets, hardware wallets are less user-friendly and funds are more difficult to access.


You can utilize Binance DEX to link your device directly to the trading platform to bypass the lack of accessibility. Because the private keys never leave your device, this is a safe way to access your funds. Some online wallet service providers also provide a similar service, which allows users to connect their hardware wallets to their browser interface.


If you plan to keep your Bitcoin for a long time or if you have a considerable amount of it, you should consider using a hardware wallet. Most hardware wallets currently allow you to set up a PIN code to protect your device as well as a recovery phrase in case your wallet is misplaced.


Paper Wallets


A paper wallet is a piece of paper on which a crypto address and associated private key are printed as QR codes. After that, these codes can be scanned to carry out Bitcoin transactions. 


While offline, some paper wallet websites allow you to download their code to generate new addresses and keys. As a result, these wallets are extremely resistant to Internet hacking attacks and might be used instead of cold storage.


However, because of the various problems, paper wallets are now considered unsafe and should be avoided. If you still wish to use it, you must be aware of the dangers. Paper wallets have a key drawback in that they aren't designed to deliver funds in little increments; instead, they must deliver the entire value at once.

Consider the following scenario: you created a paper wallet and sent multiple transactions totaling 10 BTC to finance it. If you want to spend 2 BTC, you should first transmit all 10 coins to a different sort of wallet (for example, a desktop wallet), and then spend only a portion of the funds (2 BTC). You can put the 8 BTC in a new paper wallet later, but a hardware or software wallet is a better option.


If you import your paper wallet private key into a desktop wallet and spend only a portion of the cash, the remaining coins will be transmitted to a "change address" that the Bitcoin protocol will generate automatically. You will most likely lose your funds if you do not manually set the change address to one that you control. 

Most software wallets now will take care of the change for you, delivering the remaining bitcoin to a wallet address. The crucial thing to understand is that, regardless of the amount, your paper wallet will be empty after sending out its first transaction. As a result, don't expect to see it again.


Backups and their Importance


It can be very costly to lose access to your Bitcoin wallets. As a result, it's critical to back them up on a frequent basis. This is frequently accomplished by simply backing up wallet.dat files or seed phrases. A seed phrase functions similarly to a root key in that it produces and grants access to all keys and addresses in a crypto wallet. Also, if you use password encryption, make sure you have a backup of your password. The same goes also with Ethereum Wallets.


Final thoughts 


Using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies necessitates the use of cryptocurrency wallets. They are one of the most basic pieces of infrastructure that enable blockchain networks to transfer and receive funds. Each wallet type has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, so it's critical to understand how they function before transferring funds.

The Different Types of Crypto Wallets

17 June 2021


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