Compare Ethereum Desktop Wallets

The most secure Ethereum desktop wallets.

Desktop wallets are a user-friendly and secure way to store your ether. Find your ideal desktop wallet through our reviews.

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What should I look for in a desktop wallet?

When choosing between Ethereum desktop wallets, you want to select one that combines good security features with an easy-to-use design. The best wallets make managing your ether both simple and secure.

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Finding the right Ethereum wallet for your desktop in 2018.


What is an Ethereum desktop wallet?

A desktop wallet is a piece of software that you can download and install onto your computer. After installation, you will be able to access and move your funds through the desktop application interface. It’s more secure than an online wallet as all the necessary information is stored on the computer rather than with a provider. However, your funds may be at risk if your computer is hacked or is infected by malware.

How do Ethereum desktop wallets work?

Desktop wallets have user-friendly interfaces designed to make it easy for users to transfer and receive ether. People can send you ether to your wallet address, and you can send ether to them from the desktop app by entering theirs. You can also view details such as your transaction history, balance, and more.

What other types of wallet are there?

There are four main alternative types of Ethereum wallets that you can consider. Here’s a summary of the differences between them:

  • Online wallet. Also known as a web-based wallet, this is a wallet that allows you to access your ether via a web browser. The private key is usually hosted by your provider, and they are solely responsible for its security. Good examples of web-based Ethereum wallets are MyEtherWallet or Coinbase.
  • Mobile wallet. This is similar to an online wallet, only that it’s stored on a native mobile phone application. Examples for mobile wallets include Jaxx, BRD, and Abra.
  • Hardware wallet. This is an electronic device that’s specifically built to hold ether. It stores your private key completely offline, guaranteeing the maximum protection of your coins from online attacks. Some of the most widely-known manufacturers of these wallets include KeepKey, Trezor, and Ledger.
  • Paper wallet. This is basically a piece of paper with both the private and public keys of ether addresses printed on it. Just like the hardware wallet, it keeps the ether completely offline, making it a great choice for those looking to hold their coins for long-term. Some of the best places that allow you to create a paper wallet include ETHAdress and WalletGenerator.

How are Ethereum desktop wallets different to online wallets?

Online Ethereum wallets are hosted on the internet, and your private key is encrypted by the provider and stored on their servers, meaning that they have the sole responsibility for its security. Desktop wallets, on the other hand, are stored on your computer’s hard drive and only connect to the internet when you want to make payments to another wallet. You don’t have to be online in order to receive ether to your wallet, as long as the sender has your wallet address.

Since the private key of a desktop wallet is stored on your PC, it’s your responsibility to keep it safe. If your computer is exposed to a malware virus or hacked when connected to the internet, your private key could be exposed and all ether on your wallet could become stolen.

What are the best Ethereum desktop wallet providers?

There are many Ethereum desktop wallet providers out there; and here are some of the best:

Electrum

Created in 2011, this is one of the most popular wallets, best known for its advanced features, such as the ability to adjust transaction fees for speed. It even allows for integration with some hardware wallet, such as the Ledger Nano S and Trezor wallets.

Exodus

This was one of the first desktop wallets to allow for its altcoin support. It comes with an easy-to-use, customisable interface making it a great option for beginners.

Jaxx

Launched in 2014, Jaxx works as a mobile and a desktop wallet, allowing you to hold, send, and receive over a dozen cryptocurrencies.

Mist

This is the official Ethereum client designed to allow the user to have full control of their funds. Unlike other options, Mist isn’t a third-party wallet.

Do I need to download any extra software?

No. You won’t need to download any extra software other than the desktop wallet app itself to get started.

Are Ethereum desktop wallets free?

Yes, desktop wallets are free to download. Just choose your preferred wallet, download its software to your computer, and install it to get started.

Are there any additional fees for desktop wallets?

No, but there are some fees associated with using Ethereum that aren’t charged by the wallet provider. When conducting transactions through your wallet, you might notice that you have incurred a small transaction fee (known as gas) for sending ether. These fees are used to reward miners who verify the transaction. The amount of the fees varies over time (typically they are under £1 worth of ether).

Some wallets such as Exodus will allow you to pay more or less ‘gas’ for each transaction. This is because paying more will incentivise miners to prioritise verifying your transaction and therefore lead to faster speeds.

Can desktop wallets hold multiple cryptocurrencies?

Yes, they can. Desktop wallets such as Jaxx and Exodus can hold multiple coins, but this is still largely limited to the biggest cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin. Many desktop wallets still only support a single cryptocurrency. For example, Armory only supports Bitcoin.

Can I back up an Ethereum desktop wallet?

Yes, it’s possible to backup your desktop wallet by simply writing down your ‘recovery seed’. This is basically a 12,18, or 24-word mnemonic phrase that allows you to restore your wallet if your computer is damaged or compromised, and you can’t access your wallet.

How to set up an Ethereum desktop wallet

Depending on the wallet you choose, the steps will be slightly different. However, the process is very simple and usually runs like this:

  1. Download the wallet software you have chosen from its website, or through the Google Play store and App Store, it is accessible as a mobile application. Make sure the software works for your operating system.
  2. Launch the downloaded file. Install the application to a preferred location, and open up the application once complete.
  3. Select the coins that you wish to have supported by creating wallets for them, i.e Ethereum (ETH).
  4. Once you have created a new wallet address, you should create a recovery passphrase. This passphrase should be stored in a safe place, preferably on a piece of paper. This can later be used to recover your funds on another device.
  5. Set up a PIN This is different from a recovery phrase, and works like a regular PIN associated with a credit or debit card. This can be a 4-digit code that you can use to confirm outgoing transactions that you make in the future.
  6. You can now transfer funds into your wallet, and in the future move funds out of it.

What are the risks of using an Ethereum desktop wallet?

Compared to online wallets, desktop wallets are very secure, but there are several risks involved, including:

  • Being connected to the internet. If your wallet is on a computer connected to the internet, there’s always the risk of your computer being compromised by malware or hackers. Make sure to take precaution to stay away from websites that might infect your computer with viruses.
  • Losing your desktop/laptop. If the computer where your wallet addresses are contained within is lost, damaged, or stolen, you will need to try to recover your funds on a separate device with a recovery seed. Try to keep your desktop/laptop safe, and prevent access from unwanted parties.

And what are the advantages?

Ethereum desktop wallets offer a perfect middle ground between hardware wallets and online wallets. There are several advantages, including:

  • Ease of use. Desktop wallets are user-friendly and provide convenience to both new and intermediate users.
  • Access to your funds on one device. The information of your wallet is stored on your computer, so when there’s no internet connection, the ether is secured offline all on one device.

Should I store my ether in a desktop wallet?


Advantages

  • With a desktop wallet you get a good balance of security and ease of use
  • They can be used in conjunction with a hard wallet
  • Desktop wallets are usually very user-friendly
  • Desktop wallets are free

Drawbacks

  • They're not quite as secure as hardware or paper wallets
  • You can't connect to exchanges, so trading ether is slower

Find the best Ethereum desktop wallet.


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BTC
ETH
LTC
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  • Multi-asset wallet
  • Beautiful design
  • Full control of your keys

Frequent questions.


What operating systems are Ethereum desktop wallets compatible with?

Desktop wallets are usually compatible with all major operating systems, from Windows to iOS to Linux. You will also find that wallets such as Armory are compatible with other operating systems such as Ubuntu and Raspberry as well, making it a great choice for advanced users.

Can I connect an Ethereum desktop wallet to an exchange?

No. Actually, you wouldn’t want to. This wallet is designed to allow users to store their coins without interacting with the internet too much, to enhance security. If you want to trade regularly on an exchange, sign up for an account on your preferred exchange and transfer ether into its online wallet it from your desktop wallet.

Will my computer’s speed affect my desktop wallet?

If your computer is slow, then access to and use of the desktop wallet will be slow as well. Generally, the speed of your PC won’t stop your wallet from functioning, as desktop wallet applications aren’t usually CPU intensive. A standard computer will work fine with most desktop wallets.

What is a ‘cold wallet’?

Also known as an offline wallet, a ‘cold wallet’ is a wallet that is not connected to the internet. This is the most secure type of wallet because it protects your funds from cyber hacks, unauthorized access, and other types of vulnerabilities that systems connected to the internet are susceptible to. These wallets are useful if you’re storing a large number of coins for a long period of time, but if you want to be regularly trading your coins you’ll want to be using an online wallet.

Are desktop wallets ‘cold wallets’?

Well, they can be. If you download a desktop wallet and disconnect your computer completely for the internet, then the wallet will be completely offline and therefore ‘cold’. But when it comes to transferring ether at a later date, you’ll need to connect to the internet, which will make it a ‘hot’ wallet. Note, though, that you can receive Ethereum without having to go online. If your computer is always connected to the internet, then the wallet cannot be really be described as a ‘cold’ wallet.

What is an Ethereum wallet?

Also referred to as an Ethereum digital wallet, an Ethereum wallet is a program or software where ether is stored. The wallets come in many forms, each providing unique features. There are web-based wallets, mobile wallets, and offline based wallets such as paper and hardware wallets.

Why are they called wallets?

Because, just like regular wallets, the purpose of an Ethereum wallet is to store your money. However, an Ethereum wallet does this by recording the movement of ether in and out of itself on a publicly displayed ledger (the blockchain). The wallet facilitates receiving and sending of ether and gives you ownership of your Ethereum balance. Although they function similar to a banking app, wallets are not only online; there are options such as hardware and paper wallets that store your ether offline.

What is a ‘cold wallet’?

Also known as an offline wallet, a ‘cold wallet’ is a wallet that is not connected to the internet. This is the most secure type of wallet because it protects your funds from cyber hacks, unauthorized access, and other types of vulnerabilities that systems connected to the internet are susceptible to. These wallets are useful if you’re storing a large number of coins for a long period of time, but if you want to be regularly trading your coins you’ll want to be using an online wallet.

How fast are transactions between Ethereum wallets?

Transactions between Ethereum wallets are executed instantly, but the verification process might take a bit of time. Depending on network traffic, the transaction could take 2 hours to process, but they usually complete within a few minutes time. The expediency of transactions on the Ethereum network is one of the reasons why Ethereum is popular, as transaction speeds on the Bitcoin blockchain are usually longer.

What are private and public keys?

Also referred to as a wallet address, a public key is essentially your account number (to use a banking example). You need it to make payments to another wallet. And as the name suggests, the key is viewable publicly and can be obtainable by anyone. A private key, on the other hand, is like a PIN number: it is the password required to access your funds and transfer ether out of a wallet. This key should be kept confidential (in cases where you are using paper or desktop wallets) as anyone with access to it can access your coins and transfer them.

Can I have more than one wallet at a time?

Absolutely. You can register as many wallets as you want to. You can have any type of wallet, from an online wallet, to a mobile wallet, to a hardware wallet, to a paper wallet. Further, multiple wallets might allow you to transact more anonymously. Wallets might also help you fit different purposes, such as being able to use funds on an online wallet for trading, or keeping funds in a hardware wallet for long term storage. Moreover, it can be a good idea to spread your ether across multiple wallets depending on your needs. For example, if you want to trade your ether regularly you can keep your funds on an online or mobile wallet, and you can use a hardware or paper wallet to store your other funds offline long term.

Can I transfer from my Ethereum wallet to my bank account?

No, it’s not possible. You see, Ethereum wallets hold ether rather than regular (fiat) currency held by bank accounts, so you cannot transfer directly between them. What you can do is sell your ether on a platform such as Coinbase and transfer the money into your bank account. Services like Wirex are making this process easier by offering users Ethereum debit cards that are linked to a fiat currency and Ethereum account.

What is a ‘recovery seed’?

This is basically a mnemonic phrase that allows you to restore your wallet if you lose it, usually consisting of 12,18, or 24 words. It’s recommended that you record this phrase on paper and keep it locked away in a safe place. This is because if you ever misplace or forget your wallet or its details, or - in the case of paper and hardware wallets - your wallet gets damaged, lost, or stolen, you can use the recovery seed to recover your ether onto a new wallet/device.

On a technical level, how do transactions work?

Think of internet banking. An Ethereum wallet comprises of a public and private key, which correspond to an account number and private PIN respectively. To access your own funds or ether, you will need the private key. However, when sending ether to another address, all that is necessary is the account number of another person, like when you send funds to a friend for the first time. When the transaction goes through, all that will be visible on the blockchain is both the incoming and outgoing wallet’s public addresses. Ultimately, funds will be deducted from your wallet address.

What is a deterministic wallet?

This is effectively a wallet that can generate multiple different keys from a single ‘seed’ for the purpose of backing up your wallet to recover funds at a later date, so long as you have the recovery passphrase saved. These wallets also carry additional strong security features, making general storage of ether less of a worry.

Do I need a wallet to mine Ethereum?

Yes. In order to receive your block rewards and transaction fees generated through mining, you will need to have a wallet. A cloud mining account may have an integrated wallet where your coins will be sent to, but eventually you will need to have your own wallet to transfer your funds into.

What connection do Ethereum wallets have to the blockchain?

The blockchain is simply a technology behind Ethereum transactions, recording the movement of coins. If you make a transfer from your wallet to another, the blockchain will show the transaction between the two wallet addresses, but not anything relating to the identity of the wallet owners.

Do I have to pay tax on the ether in my wallet?

In the UK, if you earn profits from trading with ether, you are technically required to declare it as a taxable profit under capital gains, so long as you make a profit above £11,700. Otherwise, profits are tax free. However, if you are located within another country, you should look at your local legislation as the tax status of cryptocurrencies might be different.

Are transactions between wallets irreversible?

Yes. You can’t possibly reverse a transaction after it’s initiated on the Ethereum network. If you’re making a payment using ether, make 100% sure you’re sending it to the right wallet address.

Can wallets be hacked?

Ethereum wallets cannot be ‘hacked’ in the sense of forceful entry into the wallet. The private keys, which allow transfer of coins, are impossible to guess because they comprise of a long tail code, unlike regular passwords. What hackers try to do is acquire your private key/password and target exchanges to try and acquire user’s details. Always make sure you’re using a reputable exchange with solid security features to keep your online funds safe. If you have stored your private keys offline, you do not have to worry at all.

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