When you first get involved with cryptocurrencies, you will likely need a software wallet to store your cryptocurrencies.
One of the most popular types of software wallets is the desktop wallet and for good reason. There are lots of desktop wallets out there to choose from.
Though the ultimate aim of all such laptops is to provide storage for your digital assets, they offer a wide range of distinct features that make them suitable for different users.
So how can you choose the one that best fits your cryptocurrency needs? Well, in this review, we will help you figure out how to make the right choice. Read on to find out.
What is a Desktop Wallet?
As mentioned at the onset, a desktop wallet is a type of software wallet. A desktop wallet comes in the form of a software program specifically designed for use on a computer.
There are lots of different operating systems for computers and a desktop wallet requires compatible app versions suitable to each of these.
Though they fall into the same category as mobile wallets, desktops are considered more secure. That has to do with the fact that they are more difficult to access than mobile devices.
But they too are considered to be hot wallets and are therefore not completely immune to online attacks.
Desktop wallets store your private keys on the PC hard drive. Therefore, the main risks associated with this type of storage include having your computer hacked or attacked by malware such as viruses.
As such, desktop wallet users need to have updated security systems such as antivirus, a strong firewall and anti-malware installed.
One of the main limitations of the desktop wallet is the fact that it can only be accessed on the single computer on which it is installed. To a great extent, this limits its convenience, especially when it comes to everyday use of cryptocurrencies.
With these strong points and weaknesses of desktop wallets in mind, let us consider some of the most popular desktop wallet providers out there and analyse their offerings.
Best Desktop Wallet Providers
Create a Desktop Wallet on Exodus
Exodus wallet is one of the best desktop wallets offering support for a wide variety of coins. It has been around since 2016 and sports an elegant, intuitive design. The two-man team behind it includes JP Richardson and Robert Castagnoli.
In fact, it is said to be among the best desktop wallets for beginners by virtue of its ease of use.
As a Simple Payment Verification (SPV) wallet, it does not require a download of the entire blockchain on your desktop. Rather, it can connect to and communicate with the various blockchains of the digital assets that it supports.
Exodus is integrated with ShapeShift, offering tons of convenience for users looking to convert their digital assets. At present, it supports over 100 cryptocurrencies and can display portfolio balances in at least 30 fiat currencies.
It is compatible with Windows, Linux, Mac OS and recently, the team announced a mobile app for the wallet. They also announced that it can now integrate with Trezor hardware wallet for users looking for a cold storage solution.
To start using Exodus desktop wallet, here is what you need to do:
Step 1: Download Exodus.
Go to Exodus.io and download the wallet app for your operating system. Follow the on-screen prompts to install it on your PC.
Step 2: Open Your Exodus Wallet.
As already mentioned, Exodus supports hundreds of cryptocurrencies and more are added to it constantly. To view any of the specific crypto wallets in the app, click on the digital asset in question under “Wallet.”
That will allow you to view your wallet balance and any other relevant information.
Jaxx was developed in 2014 by a team known as Decentral Inc. in Canada. One of its founders is Anthony Diiorio, one of the co-founders of Ethereum.
It can support more than 60 coins and is a Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) wallet. Just like Exodus, the wallet is also available as a mobile app, but unlike Exodus, you can also use it as a web wallet.
Users get full control over their private keys and constantly enjoy new innovations thanks to the active team behind it.
The wallet code is open source and therefore transparently auditable by any third party. It also has ShapeShift integration adding to its versatility and convenience.
It is currently compatible with Linux, Mac OS and Windows as well as Android and iOS for mobile users. Additionally, it is accessible as a Chrome or Firefox extension.
To create your own Jaxx desktop wallet, follow these steps:
Step 1 – Download and Setup Your Jaxx Wallet
Download the appropriate version of Jaxx wallet for your desktop. Follow the instructions on your screen to install the wallet.
Select the coins you want to use on your wallet. You can always edit this list in the future as your needs change. After selecting your coins, click “Create New Wallet” and then backup your wallet and set a PIN code for your account.
Step 2 – Start Using Your Wallet
From this point, you can start using your Jaxx wallet to send and receive coins as well as to convert currencies.
Fortunately, the wallet includes an explanation for every option you select to help you understand how it works.
Atomic wallet defines itself as the first universal multi-currency wallet in the market. True to this definition, it supports over 300 cryptocurrencies.
It is also an exchange system on which you can convert digital assets using its nun-custodial atomic swaps. Atomic has also integrated ShapeShift and Changelly, both of which support instant exchanges.
The team behind the wallet consists of industry stalwarts like CEO Konstantyn Gladych, who is the former CEO of Changelly and advisor, Charlie Shrem.
Atomic wallet is compatible with Windows, Mac OS, Ubuntu, Linux, Fedora and Debian operating systems. It recently released a mobile wallet compatible with iOS and Android.
Here is how to create Atomic wallet on your desktop or laptop:
Step 1: Download the Atomic Wallet App
Visit Atomicwallet.io and download the appropriate wallet to suit your operating system and follow the instructions to install it.
Once the installation completes, tap “Open Wallet,” set a password for your wallet and make a copy of the 12-word seed phrase.
Step 2: Start Using the Wallet
Launch the wallet to view the list of available coins that it supports. To transact using a specific coin, click on it to find your address and access transaction options.
Electrum is one of the oldest and most used crypto wallets of all time. It has been in existence since 2011 and has earned great respect in the Bitcoin community.
The desktop wallet is supported on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux while mobile users can get their hands on an Android version.
According to reliable estimates, approximately 10% of all Bitcoin transactions take place on Electrum. Among the reasons for this popularity is the fact that over the years, numerous developers have made contributions to its source code. As a result, it is one of the most highly trusted Bitcoin wallets.
Another core highlight is the fact that it integrates with various hardware wallets including Trezor, Ledger Nano S and KeepKey.
Here is how to create your own Electrum desktop wallet:
Step 1: Download and install the app on your PC
Go to Electrum.org and download the appropriate software client for your PC’s operating system by clicking on the “Download” button.
Follow the instructions on the Install Wizard to run the program client on your PC.
Step 2: Start using your Electrum wallet
The wallet has a simple user interface with an intuitive design and you should be able to start sending and receiving Bitcoin on it in no time at all.
Bitcoin Core is yet another wallet with a great reputation in the Bitcoin community. It is considered one of the most secure wallets for storing, sending and receiving BTC.
As a full node client, it runs the entire Bitcoin blockchain. On one hand, this contributes tremendously to its reputation for security. But on the other, it makes it cumbersome to download as it will take a while to get the entire blockchain and also take up lots of hard disk space.
For users who really appreciate its strengths however, this is a non-issue. The Bitcoin blockchain is currently over 100GB in size and thus requires a similar amount of disk space.
The wallet also requires a high daily download capacity in order to synchronize the client with the blockchain at all times.
Bitcoin Core is compatible with Windows, Mac OS and Linux.
Here is how to create your own Bitcoin Core wallet:
Step 1: Download and install the client
Go to bitcoin.org and click the “Download” button then select the appropriate software for your operating system.
Once the download completes, click on Settings>Encrypt Wallet and set a password. It will automatically shut down after you set the password then it will restart. Do not interrupt the process.
Backup your wallet and import your private key before you start using the wallet.
Step 2: Start transacting
Your wallet is now ready to start sending, receiving and storing Bitcoins.
Best Desktop Wallets in Your Country
For residents of the UK, there are many desktop wallets. In fact, the number of wallets makes it hard to select the best one.
We would recommend Exodus or Jaxx wallet as our top favorites. These wallets support a variety of coins.
They are also accessible both on desktop and mobile, which enhances usability and convenience.
For crypto users in Canada and the US, we would still recommend Exodus and Jaxx as the most reliable and flexible desktop wallet options.
They are both easy to use and have a solid reputation in the crypto community. However, if you only use Bitcoin, Electrum is among the most secure wallets for you.
Our recommendations for the Australian market remain the same as for the other two. Choosing Jaxx or Exodus will reduce the need to keep shifting between wallets as they support numerous coins.
Differences Between Exchange, Hardware and Software Crypto Wallets
Throughout this article, we have focused on desktop wallets, which are a type of software wallet. There are other types of wallets as well, each one with its highlights and demerits. Let us consider the most common types:
Best Desktop Wallet on Mobile
Best Desktop Wallet Apple
There are lots of secure desktop wallets that are also available on iOS. These include Jaxx, Exodus and Atomic wallets to name a few.
We would recommend either of these for Apple users.
It supports a good variety of digital currencies and is regulated in multiple jurisdictions by such entities as FCA and CySEC.
Best Desktop Wallet Android
For Android devices, one of our top recommendations is the Jaxx wallet. It is one of the most versatile wallets out there with support for numerous coins.
It also facilitates basic trading and is available on desktop too.
There are hundreds of desktop wallets available on mobile devices. Most of them are not worth your consideration. Here are the things to consider when choosing Apple and Android crypto applications:
There are clearly lots of desktop wallet options for different users and various operating systems. As you may have noticed, each one offers distinct features that set it apart from the rest.
Making a choice should however not be that difficult if you have an idea of what you want. For instance, a person who only uses Bitcoin may only need to choose between the full node client and the SPV client.
On the other hand, if you want access to a wide variety of coins, you would avoid these Bitcoin-only wallets and consider the more versatile ones.
Another crucial feature to consider is security. Open source platforms that welcome the input of various developers are arguably more secure in the long run due to constant audits.
Take time to find out what existing users think of the wallet before making your pick. Honest user reviews are available on crypto forums such as Reddit and BitcoinTalk.
And once you make your pick, keep in mind that the security of your wallet is in your own hands and adhere to required safety measures to minimize risk.
What happens if my desktop gets stolen or damaged? Have I lost my cryptocurrencies forever?
No. A majority of desktop wallets have a mnemonic seed phrase which you generate and store securely during the initialization process. If you ever lose access to your desktop wallet, use this phrase to recreate your wallet and recover the funds in it.
Are desktop wallets free to use?
Technically, yes. Desktop wallet providers do not charge any fees for providing the service. However, depending on the coin you transact, every network charges transaction fees which go to miners for their verification and block creation roles. On some desktop wallets, these fees are automatically calculated based on network conditions at the time of the transaction. This gives you a rough estimate of the fee to pay to get your transaction confirmed in good time.
When is it advisable to use a desktop wallet
If you spend a lot of your time on a computer and do not need a highly secure wallet for long-term storage of cryptocurrencies, the desktop wallet would be a great choice. It will offer easy access to your funds while also giving a measure of protection. But for long-term storage, look for a hardware wallet.
Can I use more than one desktop wallet at a time on the same PC?
Yes. In fact, it is recommended that you try a number of different desktop wallets so as to choose the most appropriate one for your needs.
What is the difference between a desktop and web wallet?
A web wallet only exists online on a service provider’s platform. But a desktop wallet is an app that you download on your PC and install it to keep your private keys on the hard drive.
If someone accesses my computer can they steal my cryptocurrencies?
That will depend. On a majority of desktop wallets, the private keys are in encrypted form. They thus require a password every time you want to access funds. If that is the case, then the person will need to have your password so as to steal your cryptocurrencies.