Bitcoin Core is often criticised for its complexity and limitations, but does its pioneer status outweigh its drawbacks?
It takes a little bit of technical knowledge to get started with the Bitcoin Core wallet, but when it comes to security the original bitcoin wallet is still hailed by many as one of the safest places to keep your funds. Read our review to find out whether Bitcoin Core is the right wallet option for you.
What is Bitcoin Core wallet?
Bitcoin Core is the software that runs the entire bitcoin network. Included in the Bitcoin Core software is a secure digital wallet that can be used to store, send and receive bitcoin. By choosing to store your bitcoin in the Bitcoin Core wallet, you can contribute to the decentralised bitcoin network by validating transactions and storing a copy of the blockchain.
Taking advantage of the Bitcoin Core wallet does require some time, setup and technical know-how that may not be appropriate for all users.
- Windows 7/8.x/10
- Mac OS X
- Some ARM chipsets (including Raspberry Pi V.1 and V.2)
How much does it cost?
Bitcoin Core is free to download and use, but it will cost you some time, bandwidth and hard-drive space. While the software itself is free, you’ll have to pay transaction fees in order to send and receive bitcoin. You do have the option to set your own fees on a sliding scale, based on transaction priority.
Which currencies can I store?
How do I add currency to my wallet?
Before you begin
In order to use the wallet client that comes with Bitcoin Core, you will first need to download Bitcoin Core. However, before you download the software, it’s important to make sure that your computer meets the necessary criteria to run Bitcoin Core. Although it’s possible to run on “bare minimum” settings, the recommended minimum requirements include:
- At least 145GB disk space
- Download capacity of 500MB/day (15GB/month), plus a one-time 140GB download the first time you launch Bitcoin Core
- Upload speed of 5GB/day (150GB/month)
- 1GB RAM
- Desktop, laptop or compatible ARM chipset
- Windows 7/8.x/10, Mac OS X or Linux operating system
Download Bitcoin Core
If your system is equipped to handle Bitcoin Core, you can proceed with the download. When the download completes, open the file and, in most cases, prepare to wait for a while. The first time you open Bitcoin Core, it downloads the entire blockchain, which contains the history of all past bitcoin transactions and it’s over 100 GB in size. Depending on your Internet connection and the speed of your computer, this can take several hours or days to complete.
Create a password
Once the download is complete, you will need to create a password for your wallet before sending bitcoin to it. You can either use Bitcoin Core’s GUI or the command line to navigate to “Settings” and choose “Encrypt Wallet”. Next, choose a password. It’s recommended that you store your password offline in a secure location. If you lose your password, you'll lose all access to your wallet and its contents, permanently.
Restart Bitcoin Core
Once you’ve saved your password, Bitcoin Core will automatically shut down. Relaunch Bitcoin Core after the shutdown has completed.
Add funds to your wallet
Now that you’ve created a password, you can add funds to your Bitcoin Core wallet.
- Navigate to “File” and choose “Receiving Addresses”.
- Copy the address where you want to receive bitcoin.
- If you have purchased bitcoin from an exchange, you can send funds held on that exchange to your Bitcoin Core wallet by pasting your receiving address into the exchange’s send form.
- If an individual is sending you bitcoin, that person will also need to send the bitcoin to the receiving address.
How do I make payments with Bitcoin Core?
Once you’ve made it through the download process and added funds to your wallet, making payments with Bitcoin Core should be fairly straightforward.
- To begin, simply launch Bitcoin Core, navigate to “Send” and enter the transaction information.
- Add the recipient’s wallet address in the “Pay to” field. Be sure to double-check your information, as transactions cannot be reversed or cancelled.
- With Bitcoin Core, you are responsible for setting your own transaction fee. That fee goes to miners who validate bitcoin transactions and maintain the blockchain. Higher fees generally equate to faster transaction approval. If the fee you enter is too low, it’s possible that the network will reject your transaction, in which case the bitcoin will reappear in your wallet.
- Once you are confident that all of the information is correct, choose “Send”. You may be asked to enter your password. After that, hit “OK” and your transaction will be initiated.
How secure is Bitcoin Core?
Bitcoin Core is known for offering a very high level of privacy and security. Users can also opt for additional security measures to supplement Bitcoin Core.
- Perfect privacy for receiving transactions. Because Bitcoin Core downloads the entire history of all bitcoin transactions, the software can search through the data to discover which of those transactions include payments to you. By running Bitcoin Core, you are guaranteed to have perfect privacy in relation to your incoming transactions.
- Strong level of privacy for sent transactions. When you send bitcoin, you have to record the transaction on the public blockchain. Using Bitcoin Core to send transactions relays your transaction information through a large peer-to-peer network, which makes it much harder to track than many transactions sent by lightweight peer-to-peer clients.
- Compatible with Tor. Bitcoin Core is compatible with the anonymising service Tor, which can be used to hide your IP address and make it much harder for third parties to link your real name with your bitcoin transactions.
- Decentralised peer-to-peer networking. When you’re running Bitcoin Core, you’re connected to a large network of other people running Bitcoin Core. Each time you start the software, new peers are discovered through a decentralised process that doesn’t require checking in with a centralised entity to find out who else is connected to the network.
Where can I get Bitcoin Core wallet?
You can download Bitcoin Core from the official website. To ensure security, avoid downloading this software from unofficial sources.
Pros and cons
- High level of privacy for incoming and outgoing transactions.
- Compatible with Tor, the software that protects anonymity.
- Strong emphasis on user control over wallet, transactions and privacy practices.
- Uses a graphical user interface (GUI) or set of command-line tools to access and navigate your wallet.
- You can fully validate bitcoin transactions yourself rather than relying on a third-party service.
- Running Bitcoin Core contributes to the decentralised bitcoin ecosystem.
- Initial download can take a long time to complete depending on Internet connection speed and computer specifications.
- Requires over 140GB in storage space on your hard drive.
- Users with bandwidth limits imposed by their Internet service provider (ISP) may face problems with running Bitcoin Core.
- Known computer viruses are stored in the blockchain. While these pieces of code cannot infect your computer from the blockchain, antivirus software may still detect the data and interfere with running Bitcoin Core as a result.
- May be difficult to use for beginners.
What’s next for Bitcoin Core?
The group of developers dedicated to maintaining Bitcoin Core take a conservative approach to modifying the software, adding changes only after community input and ample consideration. Some of the most recent developments for Bitcoin Core include:
- Download speed. As of 14 September 2017, an update was released for Bitcoin Core that includes some optimisations to make the initial download faster for most users, although it can still take a while.
- Multi-wallet support. Support for multiple wallets has been added to the command line tools in the most recent release of Bitcoin Core, but this feature is not yet accessible through the GUI.
- Fee transparency. The latest version of Bitcoin Core introduces a new feature into the user interface that makes it easier to gauge the appropriate transaction fee.