Before I explain more about the different types of wallets, it’s important to know what a wallet actually is. As the name suggests is a digital wallet for digital coins . Where you normally keep physical coins in a physical wallet, digital coins can be stored in a digital wallet.

Kind reminder: I only write about wallets I ever used

Public key and private key

A wallet contains at least one unique address. This address is the place where you can receive Bitcoins or altcoins. Do you want to send 100 Gulden from your Bittrex  account to your own Gulden wallet? Then you will use the adress from your walllet. This address is called a public key.

Good to know: The public address is visible for everyone. As an example: here you can see there are 100 Gulden stored at the address GN1vVXZPyuddQQzmEXABLTVFuiW29CMYTu.

Besides the public key a wallet contains a private key. This is the access key to your wallet. Everyone who has the private key that belongs to your wallet, can send coins. Therefore it’s important that you keep these key… private.

Wallets TL;DR

Actually all cryptocurrencies releasing their own wallets, better know as core wallets. Do you possess ten different kind of coins, then you theoretically need ten different wallets. Fortunately, there are digital wallets (like Jaxx and Exodus) on the market that, just like a physical wallet, have several compartments where you can store a variety of coins. They’re called multi wallets.

“But Michiel, the companies who sell crypto currcency online, also offer a wallet where I can keep my Bit and altcoins.” That’s right, but I suggest you don’t keep your cryptocoins in there. Why? I’m not (un)sure if it’s safer to keep your money in a wallet from a exchange, but I do know that one of the largest exchanges was hacked in 2014. Hackers stole millions worth of Bitcoins. Therefore I choose to just keep only my ‘trading coins’ in purses from exchanges.

Core wallets

When I bought my first crypto coins, I decided to first download the core wallets. As an example I take the wallet of core Gulden. To download the core wallet you must have space left on your hard drive (or other storage medium). Next to the wallet, you will download also the whole blockchain which contains the entire transaction history of Gulden. The first time you open the wallet, the entire Block Chain needs to be synced. For wallets of popular coins it can take a few hours (!) before the digital purse is up to date and shows the correct data. Keep that in mind.

In addition, every time you open the wallet, the latest transactions Gulden will be downloaded, which basically means that you need more and more storage capacity.

Multiwallets

You do not have to be an expert in English to understand that contains a multi wallet many (multi) purses (wallet). Instead of a kind of crypto-currency, you can store multiple types of coins into a multi wallet.

Jaxx

Jaxx is one of the better known multiwallets and supports the most popular coins and Bitcoin, Ethereum, litecoin, Dash Zcash. Personally, I only use Jaxx for Litecoin and Ethereum because after updating all my Dash was no longer visible. Helpdesk Jaxx was there also quick to reassure me; all my Dash was just present, but ‘just’ not visible.

Jaxx is appreciated by its users since you can synchronize your Jaxx account on multiple devices. So you can on both your desktop and smartphone always with you coins.

Jaxx supported coins

  • Augur (REP)
  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Dash (DASH)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Ethereum Classic (ETC)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • ZCash (ZEC)

Jaxx is a so called hierarchical deterministic wallet, better known as a HD wallet. One of the features it entails: Every time you make a transaction, Jaxx changes the wallet address. Why? Because that’s more anonymous. That means it doesn’t make any sense to store the public key (your adress), cause it changes all the time. Because of that: Don’t forget to store the backup line of twelve words (the mnemonic phrase).

Exodus

Another multi wallet is in Exodus. The multiwallet is younger than Jaxx, but is constantly gaining more attention. In my opinion, this is mainly due to the company’s fast-paced customer service (I know from experience) and the fact that you can store other types of coins in Exodus compared t0 Jaxx.

Exodus supported coins

  • Augur (REP)
  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Dash (DASH)
  • Dogecoin (DOGE)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Golem (GLM)
  • Litecoin (LTC)

Paper wallets

It’s general stated that the paper wallet – wallet made out of paper – is the savest way to store your coins. The idea is quite simple. A printed version of the private key (the key that gives access to your wallet) instead of saving it online. This means that it is virtually impossible for cyber criminals to get into your digital wallet, because the access key is stored on a piece of paper.

A comprehensive guide to create a paper wallet for Bitcoins can be found here.

Please note: The greatest enemy of a paper wallet is …. water. The access keys are no longer visible if ink spots will arise. That means your wallet isn’t accessible and your digital currency are gone. That’s why you should always…

Back up your keys!

Before you start with receiving and sending coins: Back up your keys! Imagine if your computer crashes or gets stolen (so you can not get into your wallet), you can also no longer have access to your cryptocurrencies.

I store all my wallet backups (the public and private keys) on a USB stick. If my primary repository for some reason lost, I always have a copy.