Electrum Wallet Review
By: Ofir Beigel | Last updated: 4/24/20
Perhaps one of the oldest players in the Bitcoin wallet market is Electrum. In this review, I will cover the wallet’s pros and cons, and also share my personal experience with it.
Electrum Review Summary
Electrum is a Bitcoin desktop wallet that is feature-rich but not very user friendly. If you’re just getting started with Bitcoin, I recommend avoiding Electrum, but if you’re already familiar with the basic terms then this is an excellent choice.
That’s Electrum in a nutshell. For a more detailed review keep on reading, here’s what I’ll cover:
- Electrum Overview
- My Personal Electrum Experience
- Supported Coins
- Customer Support and Reviews
- Frequently Asked Questions
Created in November 2011 by Thomas Voegtlin, Electrum has since been modified by various developers (the code is open source). Electrum is a client based wallet – meaning that in order to use it you need to download and install it on your computer.
The client is only available for desktop, which is a significant downside for users who wish to use their mobile as their wallet.
Electrum prides itself on being fast, safe and private. The wallet is a lite wallet, meaning it does not download the blockchain, so there are no delays on setup and it’s always up-to-date.
Your private keys are encrypted and never leave your computer. Your wallet can be recovered from a secret phrase (also known as a seed phrase). You can also keep your private keys offline, and go online with a watch-only wallet.
Your private key is also not shared with the server connecting Electrum to the Bitcoin network. The server does not store user accounts. You are not tied to a particular server, and the server does not need to know you.
Finally, Electrum is developed to support hardware wallets such as TREZOR or Ledger. This means your private key will be stored safely offline on the hardware wallet, while you can use Electrum’s interface to send coins whenever you wish to do so.
Many consider Electrum to be the best Bitcoin desktop wallet, hands down. I wanted to take a look at Electrum from a newbie’s point of view since it always seemed to me that the wallet is too complex.
The installation process
While the installation process is pretty simple and straightforward for experienced Bitcoiners, I’m not sure how intuitive it would be for someone who’s just taking his first steps in the cryptocurrency world.
Basically, just clicking “Next” all the time is probably the preferred setup for newbies. However, there’s no tooltip or summary in place to explain what the various steps are all about, as seen below:
At least the seed phrase which is the most important part is explained in a bit more detail:
Note – you should never expose your seed phrase online. The seed you see above is for instructional purposes only and I am not using it to store funds.
The whole installation process is comprised of 7 steps which include:
- Choosing a server
- Naming your wallet.dat file (the file that stores your private key)
- Choosing between a Legacy and a Segwit wallet
- Choosing between an existing wallet / hardware wallet / new wallet
- If creating a new wallet – choosing the wallet type (standard, 2fa, multisig)
- Writing down your seed phrase
- Creating and encrypting (optional) your wallet password
As you can see, this is probably a bit more than the average non-technical newbie will be able to handle. Take a look at Exodus to see how newbie onboarding is done.
The user interface
The user interface of the wallet’s desktop client is pretty straight forward. Three tabs at the top of the window allow you to choose between “send”, “receive” and your transaction history.
At the bottom of the window, you have the option to view system settings, inspect your seed or change your password.
All in all, the design is pretty simple yet not quite inviting. It seems like Electrum focuses on functionality rather than on user experience. If someone new to Bitcoin downloads this wallet, chances are they wouldn’t know what to make of all the options the wallet offers.
The upside of Electrum is that it’s feature rich, mainly when it comes to customizing your Bitcoin transactions.
The wallet allows you to set custom transaction fees. Electrum also supports the Replace By Fee feature (RBF) that allows you to rebroadcast your transaction with a higher fee if it doesn’t get confirmed.
You can label different addresses for reference so you know where payments are coming from. There’s also an easy way to export all of the wallet’s history, addresses and labels.
Additionally, the wallet allows you to sign messages using your private key and also “pay to many”, which is the process of sending one transaction to multiple recipients.
Electrum supports only Bitcoin (BTC). However, there have been clones created for Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, and other coins.
While there aren’t many online reviews of the wallet, the Bitcoin community in general praises Electrum as being one of the best possible choices for small amounts of Bitcoin.
How Secure is Electrum?
Electrum is password protected and can also encrypt the private key on your hard drive. If the password is lost or the computer is destroyed, you can always recover your funds with the seed phrase (assuming you wrote it down during the wallet setup).
Does Electrum Support Bitcoin Cash?
No, Electrum supports BTC only. However, there is Electron Cash which is an Electrum clone for Bitcoin Cash.
Electrum is a great, fast, secure and stable wallet, however, it is not suitable for beginners. The wallet enjoys massive support from the Bitcoin community and is extremely feature rich.
If you’re just starting with Bitcoin I wouldn’t suggest this wallet, but if you know your way around the basic terms, Electrum is highly recommended (hey, I use it myself).
Have you had any experience with Electrum? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below.