Best Bitcoin Desktop Wallets Review and Comparison
Last updated: 5/5/19
Desktop wallets are programs that store and manage the private key for your Bitcoins on your computer’s hard drive. In this post, I will review the most popular desktop wallets around for Mac, Linux, and Windows.
There’s a wide variety of Bitcoin desktop wallets around, each one has a different edge. For beginner’s the best wallet would probably be Exodus. The wallet with most security options would be Armory, while Bitcoin Core’s wallet verifies each transaction with a full copy of the blockchain. The winner in all categories overall is Electrum.
Here are the best Bitcoin desktop wallets around
If you want a more detailed review of the different desktop wallets keep on reading. Here’s what I’ll cover:
By nature, desktop wallets are more secure than mobile wallets (since they’re harder to steal).
If you’re new to the world of Bitcoin and wallets, please watch this video before reading any further:
Of course, desktop wallets are still considered “hot wallets”, since they are connected to the Internet. This makes them inherently insecure. However, for small amounts of Bitcoin or altcoin, they are a good solution.
For large amounts of Bitcoin ALWAYS use cold storage wallets like a paper wallet or a hardware wallet. Today I’m going to review five different desktop wallets that work on all 3 major operating systems – Mac OS, Linux, and Windows.
It took me a while to start using Electrum, but once I did, I never looked back. I’ll start with the downside – Electrum is ugly. The interface looks like a 90’s version of Windows. Also, if you’re completely new to Bitcoin, I have the feeling you’ll get lost pretty quickly due to the unfriendly interface.
However, once you get over the interface issues, Electrum is one of the most robust, effective and secure desktop wallets out there. Also, it’s open source, meaning many people have taken part in reviewing and composing the code. This reduces the chance of malicious code inside the software to practically zero.
In times when the Bitcoin network is “crowded” and transaction fees can skyrocket, Electrum is one of the few wallets that allows you to replace the fee you’ve set to an already broadcasted transaction. This feature is very handy when you can’t get your transaction to confirm.
Additional features include address tagging, fee adjustments, encrypting your wallet and signing/verifying messages (this is an advanced feature). Bottom line, this is an excellent wallet. If you understand Bitcoin good enough to use it, go for it. Electrum is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.Visit Electrum’s Website Read our full Electrum Review
If you’re just getting started with Bitcoin and you’re still trying to wrap your head around everything that’s going on, Exodus has got you covered. Exodus launched in July 2016 and since then has gained some serious momentum.
Again, I’ll start with the downside – it’s not open source. This means that the developers can potentially insert malicious code into the software without you knowing about it. And of course, when it comes to money, having a closed source program can raise some concerns.
However, since in any case, I suggest you use desktop wallets for small amounts of Bitcoin (closed or open source), then this is not a big issue in my book. I never put an amount I’m not willing to risk in any hot wallet (desktop, mobile or web).
Exodus also allows you to hold a variety of altcoins such as Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash and more. The interface is super easy to understand and even total newbies will get the hang of it. If you find electrum to be daunting, this is a great alternative. Exodus is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.Visit the Exodus Website Read our full Exodus Review
All of the wallets I’ve covered so far are known as SPV wallets or lite wallets. This means that they don’t have a full copy of the blockchain in order to verify transactions – they rely on other computers on the network to give them transaction information.
Bitcoin Core is a full node Bitcoin wallet. This means that once you download the wallet, you will also download the whole blockchain to your computer. This can get really messy as the blockchain’s size is a few hundred Gigabytes and can take some time to download.
However, once the Blockchain is downloaded you can start independently verifying transactions on the network. You no longer need to trust anyone else in the system. Or as Bitcoiners like to say “don’t trust, verify”.
In all honesty, I don’t think it’s worth the hassle. You can gain some educational value by completing this process, but for day to day transactions and use, Bitcoin SPV wallets are completely fine. Bitcoin Core is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.Visit the Exodus Website Bitcoin Core Review coming soon!
Multisig means that you can have the wallet require an X amount of people to sign off on each transaction in order to broadcast it to the network. Using Copay’s multisig feature allows you extra security against theft and could be a good option if you can’t afford a hardware wallet.
Copay’s code is open source, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux and has been around since 2014.Visit the Copay Website Read our Copay review
Armory is a well-known and trusted brand when it comes to Bitcoin security, though the wallet is usually best suited for more advanced users. If you are looking for a wallet that emphasizes safety and security, Armory should make the short list as the wallet features a variety of encryption and cold-storage options.
Armory is among the most respected brands when it comes to Bitcoin security. Armory is available for Mac, Linux, Windows Ubuntu, and RaspberriPi.Visit the Exodus Website Armory Review coming soon!
There’s no shortage of desktop wallets for Bitcoin and this can sometimes be overwhelming for beginners. If you’re new to Bitcoin, start with Exodus and work your way up. If you feel that you’re pretty technical you can skip exodus and go straight to Electrum.
In the end, try to suit the wallet to your needs, since each one of the wallets I’ve reviewed here has a different edge. I’d love to hear about your favorite Bitcoin desktop wallet in the comment section below.
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