whats a bitcoin wallet?
What is a Bitcoin Wallet?
So, first of all, we need to understand a couple of things.
Let's try an analogy, lets look at
1. Bitcoin like the internet
2. Bitcoin wallet is like an E-Mail address
3. Your emails are like your "Bitcoins"
4. Your E-Mail Password is like a "Private Key"
5. Your E-Mail address is like your "Public Key"
1. Bitcoin is like the internet - Bitcoin is like the internet because the Bitcoin network will always run as long as you have computers on the network. You also can't take the internet and keep it in a safe in your house or in your pocket. Same goes for Bitcoin, when you own or want to use Bitcoin you have to access the Bitcoin Network and your Bitcoins are always on the Bitcoin network.
2. Bitcoin Wallet is like an E-Mail Address - If you own an email address and want to access your email you have to access the internet to get your email. The same thing goes with Bitcoin. If you want to access your Bitcoin you will need to access a Bitcoin wallet of some kind. Some wallets you maintain, some wallets other people help you maintain.
3. 4. 5. Your emails are like Bitcoins - Your E-Mail password is like a Private Key; Your E-Mail is like a Public key - If you want to send an E-Mail address you will need to login to your email and know the persons E-Mail you want to send a message to. This is kind of like Bitcoin. When you access your wallet you will be given a Public Key and a Private Key. These keys act like an E-Mail address and password to access that Email address. Your public key is the E-mail address, that is what you give to others so they can send you Bitcoin, or in this analogy, send you E-Mail. The Private key would be your password, you NEVER give that to anybody! With this they could access everything! Just like giving out your E-Mail password will make it where everybody could access your email and delete anything and forward any messages etc...
Wrap it up...
I hope all that made sense! The reason you need to know that is because you can never take Bitcoin off the network. All you can do is receive Keys to access the Bitcoin on the network. The number one thing you must remember about wallets is that if you lose your private key, you lose your Bitcoin FOREVER. There is no password regeneration or resetting. The private key is the ONLY way to access your Bitcoin (or other cryptocurrencies). This means nobody can take your Bitcoin away unless they know that Private Key. This also means you need to be very careful on how you store these passwords so you don't lose them in the future.
So, what are your options for wallets?