A lot of people ask us how to setup a bitcoin wallet. The process is actually very simple, but often people don't really know where to start. This tutorial will get you up and running with your first bitcoin wallet.
Warning - if you are infected with the cryptolocker virus please ensure you install your wallet on a different computer.
Choosing a wallet
I am not going to spend much time on which wallet is best. There are a lot available, and they each have their pros and cons. This tutorial will focus on MultiBit, but you should be aware that there are other alternatives.
Wallets are generally split into two categories:
An online wallet is a wallet that is hosted by an external website. The biggest online wallet by far is BlockChain. While an online wallet is usually very easy to setup, and can be accessed from any computer with internet access, they are not suitable for holding large numbers of bitcoins. Several high profile online wallet services have been hacked, and people have had their coins stolen. While BlockChain claim that your wallet is encrypted and only you have the password, it is still not as safe as an offline wallet.
Offline wallets are stored on your local computer and can usually only be accessed on that computer. Since you are in control of the hardware, you can decide to implement whatever security processes you want. BitcoinQT is the official bitcoin wallet, but only has very basic features and can be difficult to use for bitcoin beginners. It also requires a very large (4GB+) download when it first starts up to synchronise with the bitcoin network.
For more information about alternative wallets the official bitcoin website provides an excellent breakdown of the major wallets for web, mobile and offline.
Multibit is an offline wallet, and is recommended by QuickBitcoin as it provides a good balance of being very user friendly, easy to setup and has built in encryption (if enabled).
Step 1 - Download and Install Multibit
Head over to Multibit and click the download link on the right (there are options for Mac, Windows or Linux).
If you are using windows, double click on the installer and follow the instructions. For Mac, drag the application in to you Applications folder.
Step 2 - Your first bitcoin wallet
When you first open Multibit, after a few seconds of synchronising, you will see a screen similar to this:
Multibit has actually already created you a new default wallet which is ready for use. If you click on the Request tab, you will see your wallet address:
This is the address you should give out to people who want to send you bitcoins. Since the bitcoin address is just that, an address, you do not need to keep it secret. When buying bitcoins on QuickBitcoin, this is the address you should use.
The Send and Transactions tab are very straight forward. If you wish to send bitcoins, enter the address of the recipient in the address field, and the amount you wish to send (in either $ or btc). Remember that once sent, you cannot reverse a bitcoin transaction. The transactions tab will display a list of all the transaction associated with your bitcoin wallet.
Step 3 - Encrypting and securing your bitcoin wallet
While this step is optional, it is highly recommended. With the growing popularity of bitcoin, it has become an increasing target for hackers and viruses. At the moment, anyone with access to your computer could potentially steal your bitcoins as they are stored just like any other file on your computer.
Luckily, MultiBit provides very powerful, and easy to setup encryption for your wallet.
Click on File -> Add Password
Then enter a secure password
To be secure, the password should be at least 6 (preferably 8) characters and should be hard to guess. It is important however that you do not forget your password as you cannot recover it if you do and you will loose access to your bitcoins.
Note that you don't need the password to view your wallet or receive transactions, only to send transactions.