What is a Bitcoin Private Key, How to Use It, Keep it Safe!

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bitcoin private key safety

What is Bitcoin? Bitcoin is a digital currency and a payment system that was introduced as an open source software by Satoshi Nakamoto who developed it. It utilizes peer to peer technology since money can be transferred from one individual to another directly without the involvement of a central bank. All payments are usually recorded on a public ledger. Individuals using software such as wallet software can get to send and receive bitcoins electronically through a PC, smartphone or web app.

What is a Bitcoin Private Key?

What is a bitcoin private key? Bitcoin private key is a secret number generated to allow individuals to spend their bitcoins. When users are issued with a bitcoin address, they are also issued with a bitcoin private key. It is usually a 256 bit number and since it is the golden ticket that allows an individual to spend his or her bitcoins, it needs to be kept safe and securely. An example of a bitcoin private key is 16qT2iLQ7d5MiEkKWYau6mfRNHUFZ3NzHz. This is our bitcoin private key, by the way. A private key can be used to accept accept, sell and donate bitcoin. Many charities are now accepting bitcoins.

How to Keep Bitcoin Private Key Safe?

One of the ways one can keep a bitcoin private key safely is by storing it in their computers in a disk that it encrypted. Since the bitcoin private key is short, other can get to print it on a piece of paper. This can be accomplished by using pywallet. Pywallet is a utility developed using python that allows users to extract private keys from their wallet files. The extracted files can then be printed on to a small piece of paper using a printer.

RELATED: What is a Bitcoin Wallet and How to Get One

What a Bitcoin Private Key is Used for?

In order to make a transaction, the user should have availability to a tool or program that allows importing of the private key. Some wallets may make a transaction without the need of importing the private key. Others will require the private key to be swept. When private keys pass through the procedure of sweeping, a transaction will be broadcast to another address and which will include the balance.

How to Import a Bitcoin Private Key?

How does one import a bitcoin private key? One of the methods includes the use of blockchain.info. This online tool assists users to import private keys easily. This is achieved through their wallet service which is referred to as a hybrid ewallet. Since it is an online tool, it doesn’t store your wallet information. This is kept on your browser as an encrypted file. You are required to issue your password or alias so as to access your account.

BIPS also allows the importation of private keys easily by simply allowing the user to either type the key manually from the paper wallet or scan it using a QR reader app through a smartphone’s camera. Other bitcoin private key import providers include Mycelium which provides an android app that can be downloaded from Google play. The app allows one to either scan the code from the paper wallet or by use of cold storage.

Jonas Chokun

I fell in love with bitcoin about 2 years ago and have never looked back. Over a 2 year period, I learned as much as I can about this hot/new virtual currency and have bought, sold and traded a few bitcoins myself. Now, I want to share with you what I know! Enjoy.

11 Comments

  1. Question:
    I have bought half a bitcoin from coinbase.
    How do I keep my own private key safe and secure
    such that not even coinbase can use it?

    What if coinbase employee steals my private key and my wallet address?

  2. In this chapter:
    “What is a Bitcoin Private Key?”
    are you presenting your private key?
    If it is still in use, anyone can have access to your funds.
    Isn’t it your public address that you wanted to make public here?

    I checked it and it seems to be a public address, not a private key.

    By the way, thank you for these informative posts here on the website.

  3. kshama gupta on

    private key doesn’t match the selected address my address is (14U11Yu3CXqWUgTtZVoN4PbzBNECxNqcPg ) please help me.

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      I suggest to reach out to your wallet provider in case you have issues, as you can only use your Bitcoin address if you have your private key.

      • kshama gupta on

        How to get private key of old receiving address. many times request support.but not receive my private key this address-14U11Yu3CXqWUgTtZVoN4PbzBNECxNqcPg

        • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

          Hi Kshama, you can only receive the private key from the wallet who provided the public Bitcoin address for you. It is possible that your wallet is a hosted wallet so they hold your Bitcoins for you in their own “cold storage” wallets. These means that they can not supply you with the private key to your wallet. I suggest you to read this article about the different wallet types, hopefully it helps you. https://99bitcoins.com/what-is-bitcoin-wallet-bwbt-3/

          • kshama gupta on

            I am 100% sure my password is correct, I wrote it down on a paper plus it was saved in the keychain of my browser during the registration/creation of my wallet. The bitcoins are also still sitting in my account. my wallet id-fc40ae34-f32e-40b0-bdda-4e2c6a344701

          • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

            Hi Kshama, there is not much we can do about this issue here, the wallet’s support team should have a solution for password recovery.

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