Each Bitcoin wallet has its own pros and cons. It’s important to know the difference as security and accessibility differ between them.
There are three categories of wallets: those that are downloadable directly to your computer, mobile wallets and web wallets.
While they’re usually significantly easier to use, web wallets are stored in the cloud so they are vulnerable to attack from hackers.
If you haven’t read it already, it’s important to read our guide on How to Secure Your Bitcoin Wallet.
On your computer
Bitcoin-Qt (Windows, Ubuntu, Mac) This is the standard wallet. When you first download Bitcoin-Qt, it will likely take at least a day as it downloads the entire Bitcoin blockchain onto you computer.
Electrum (Windows, Ubuntu, Mac, Android) – The Electrum wallet is a lighter-weight wallet than Bitcoin-Qt as it doesn’t download the entire blockchain.
MultiBit (Windows, Mac, Linux) – Like Electrum, the MultiBit wallet doesn’t download the entire blockchain so it can be working in a matter of minutes. It also provides wallet descriptions to allow you to define wallets with categories such as “savings” and “spending.” MultiBit supports several languages.
Armory (Windows, Ubuntu, Mac) – Armory claims to “provide the highest level of security for heavily-invested Bitcoin users…” It has a few super-user features that other clients don’t have, but it also involves a bit of technical know-how to use.
Bitcoin Wallet (Android) - Exactly as it sounds, it’s a Bitcoin client for your mobile phone. It does not connect to a web wallet so be careful not to lose your phone.
Electrum (Android) – Just like the Bitcoin Wallet, it’s a simple wallet client for your Android. Again, be careful not to lose your phone.
Blockchain (Android, iOS) – Unlike Bitcoin Wallet for Android, the Blockchain mobile wallet connects to your web wallet so you can still access your funds if you lose your phone. This does however bring with it the higher security risks of storing your Bitcoins in the web.
Coinbase (Android, iOS) – Just like Blockchain, the Coinbase app connects to your online Coinbase account.
In the cloud
Coinbase – Coinbase is the easiest way to get started with Bitcoin. (That’s why we recommend using it in our Getting Started with Bitcoin guide.) While easy to use, it’s again important to understand the security risks of using a web-based wallet as they can be vulnerable to hacker attack.
Blockchain – Blockchain is similar to Coinbase, but has a few additional expert features. Their website has a lot of information about the blockchain, Bitcoin charts and more.