Your bitcoins are stored in a specialized software called "wallet".
A wallet holds your private keys used to spend coins, stores public keys and wallet addresses, keeps track of your transactions and balance, and often offers basic crypto features (digitally signing messages etc).
Wallets are divided into two main categories based on their level of security.
It's the most secure storage where private keys are both created and stored offline. This greatly mitigates the risk of coins being stolen by hackers or a malicious software.
There are 3 ways to create and hold private keys: hardware wallets, paper wallets, software wallets run on an offline computer/device.
Use this type of wallet for a larger amount of bitcoins stored over a longer period of time. Think of it as your savings account.
It's the less secure wallet type because private keys are stored and created on a device connected to the Internet (phone, tablet, PC). If the device gets compromised your wallet is at risk of being stolen.
Because its security is weak it should be generally used to store smaller amounts only. Think of it as your physical wallet. You don't use it to store your retirement money.
Regardless of the category used, it's crucial to additionally secure your wallet. Most wallets offer some kind of password protection that encrypts your private keys.
Also, make sure you have a backup of your private keys in case of loss or theft. Bitcoin is designed in a way that it's impossible to spend your funds if you lose the keys. Keep that in mind.
Pay attention to the list below to chose the wallet that suits you best.
Hardware wallets are tiny devices or smart cards that you plug-in to your computer/phone over USB. This type of wallet is generally the most secure because private keys are stored offline and never leave the device.
Trezor is a hardware wallet providing a high level of security without sacrificing convenience. Unlike cold storage, Trezor is able to sign transactions while connected to an online device. That means spending bitcoins is secure even when using a compromised computer.Buy Now Learn More
Online Wallet Source Code
Desktop wallets are software wallets that run on your PC or laptop. Generally speaking, they are easy to set up, back up and offer most features.
Bither is a simple and secure wallet on many platforms. With special designed Cold/Hot modes, user can easily get both safety and simplicity. Bither's XRANDOM uses different entropy sources to generate true random number for users. Also with HDM, users can have HD's advantages and Multisig's security.Download Source Code
Phone wallets offer portability, meaning you have your bitcoins always with you. This way you're able to pay on the spot at bars, restaurants and other physical stores.
Because phones are common targets of pickpockets, it's a good practice to store only a limited amount of coins on the wallet.
A paper wallet is a piece of paper with a private key printed on it usually in the form of a QR code. Some paper wallets also have a wallet address printed out so you can check your balance without importing the private key to a different wallet.
Because paper is not a sturdy material we recommend you to keep it in a safe place (e.g. a physical vault).
Web wallets are most accessible and also easiest to use. This property, however, comes at the expense of security. Most web wallet providers are in charge of your private keys which means you don't own your bitcoins.
We would strongly advise against using this type of wallet unless absolutely necessary. There were numerous cases of services running away with their users' bitcoins. You've been warned!