Bitcoin Paper Wallets – Complete Guide, Reviews and More

Paper wallets make excellent cold storage wallets for Bitcoin experts

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Wallet TypeSecurityUsabilityBest forCostPrivacy
PaperHighHardSavingsFreeHigh

Only recommended for users with advanced knowledge of Bitcoin wallet security


What is a Bitcoin paper wallet?

A paper wallet is a copy of a Bitcoin public address and the private key printed on a piece of paper.

A public address is the unique identifier of an account, similar to a bank account number. A private key is a secret unique identifier required to spend the balance in an account.


Paper wallets are designed to be generated offline using a simple-to-use open source software called a paper wallet generator.

If you were to print this web page, for example, you would be the proud owner of a paper wallet. The only issue would be that anyone who sees this web page, would have the secret key to spend the coins in your wallet!

For this reason, you will need to download and install a trusted paper wallet generator on your own computer.


Trusted Paper Wallet Providers [updated 2018]

 SecurityUsabilityAnonymityBIP EncryptionPriceVisits
BitAddress.orgHighLowHighYesFreeVisit
WalletGenerator.netHighLowHighYesFreeVISIT

How it works – paper wallets

A paper wallet is one of the safest ways to store your bitcoins and is by definition a “cold storage” method. Paper wallets can also be encrypted using a password.

Despite being generated by and on a computer, paper wallets are designed to be created and stored offline.

The wallets are generated randomly by an open source software (see table below for trusted providers) so your computer does not need to be (and shouldn’t be) connected to the internet.

Using the original Bitcoin protocol, paper wallet generators use JavaScript to produce public/private key pairs offline.

This way, you can be sure that the only way for anyone to access the coins in this account is by having access to the paper wallet physically.


Disadvantages of paper wallets

The main disadvantage of paper wallets is that they are only recommended for experts.

Although public and private keys can easily be entered into a Bitcoin client, handling forks and other technical matters can become very technical even for advanced users.


Security tips

We strongly recommend that you download any of the software below, disconnect from the internet and then generate a wallet offline. Do not use a public printer or any printer that stores printing history.

If you encrypt your wallet, ensure you can decrypt it with your password before sending funds.

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A compromised computer or printer is highly vulnerable to a hack (theft of coins) and may expose your paper wallet information including your private keys.

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