Generally, when somebody refers to the “cold storage” of Bitcoins, this typically means that Bitcoins are stored in software or hardware wallet that is never connected to the internet, whereas Bitcoins in a “hot wallet” are those that are directly connected to the net.
But ever since the innovation from the developers of the Armory wallet introduced a sleek new interface and eased the process of transacting with offline cold wallets, several new cold storage wallets (i.e. cold wallets) have been made available. Although these cold storage wallets don’t quite match up to the unwavering security offered by hardware wallets, they are the next best thing and are an ideal starting point for those with a significant crypto portfolio.
In this article, we will take a look at some of the best cold wallets in the market, irrespective of the platform for which they are built. For the purposes of this article, we will be ignoring hardware wallets, since they are in a class of their own.
Publicly launched in 2011, Electrum is a lightweight client-side Bitcoin wallet that is available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Android, and iOS devices.
Despite being one of the most well known Bitcoin wallets, what is less commonly known is that it features built-in cold storage transaction support. Beyond this, Electrum also features advanced wallet features, including Simple Payment Verification (SPV), Replace by Fee (RBF), Ledger Nano S support, as well as 2FA and multi-sig wallet support.
The source code for Electrum is entirely open source and for users that want to verify the integrity of the source code and public wallet releases, this can be easily done using GPG keys of Thomas Voegtlin which are provided with each new release.
- Lightweight client — takes up very little storage space
- Supports out-of-the-box setup for offline mode.
- Offers hardware wallet support, custom word seeds, and QR code integration.
Bither is a secure client-side Bitcoin wallet with dedicated Cold & Hot wallet modes. As a lightweight client, Bither doesn’t need to download the entire Bitcoin blockchain to function, instead using secure servers to sync with the blockchain. As it stands, the wallet is available for Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS devices.
Although it is missing 2-Factor Authentication, Bither does feature several other security features, including fingerprint ID authentication and Simplified Payment Verification (SPV) to secure wallets.
Bither also comes loaded with features like RCheck and XRandom to ensure high levels of randomization during private key generation and transaction signing, ensuring users are protected on all fronts.
That being said, Bither does have its downsides. For one, it exclusively supports QR Code scans, meaning watch only accounts on the desktop version can only be imported if your system has a camera. However, it does make up for these with its hardware wallet support, allowing users to further extend its cold-storage functionality.
Overall, Bither is a solid choice for first-time cold wallet users, however, its clunky and dated user interface may be offputting to those used to using fancy mobile wallets.
- Dedicated hot and cold wallet modes
- Ability to generate both HD and normal wallets.
- Vanity address feature for increased personalization
When it comes to cold storage wallets, Armory is the best of the best. It is freely available to download, and the code base of the software itself is open source and has been subjected to numerous security audits over the years to verify its integrity
The Armory development team innovated a whole new approach and user interface to make offline transactions easy and user-friendly. They were also behind the innovation of hierarchical deterministic wallet technology and linked to the development of the Glacier protocol — arguably the most secure cold storage solution in operation today.
Although Armory is currently only available for Windows, Mac OS, and Ubuntu/Debian devices, it remains easily the most commonly used cold storage wallet available and is considered a pioneer in the space. However, since it isn’t available on mobile devices, not everybody can benefit from its offering.
Armory features a gamut of security features like GPU-Resistant Wallet Encryption, Multi-signature wallets, Secure Print, Fragmented Backups, Lockboxes and more. If you are not quite ready to take the leap to a hardware wallet, we highly recommend Armory as the first choice in their stead.
- Makes use of the Glacier Protocol, the most secure protocol for storing BTC.
- Easy cold wallet setup and offline transaction interfaces.
- Backed by arguably of the most Bitcoin development teams in the industry.
Image credits: Armory, Bither, Electrum