What is Bitcoin?

"Bitcoin [BTC] is a decentralized digital currency based on an open-source, peer-to-peer internet protocol. It was introduced by a pseudonymous developer named Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009." --Wikipedia

Visit WeUseCoins.com for more information!

About Bitcoin

Bitcoin wallets come in a variety of different flavors. I'll try to cover the basics here.

Software Wallets

Software wallets are wallets that run on devices that you control, whether it be your laptop, smart-phone, or tablet device. Software wallets generally offer more security than cloud or web wallets, although each has it's own use.

Desktop/Laptop Wallets

Bitcoin-QT

The original bitcoin client, developed and maintained by the Bitcoin Foundation. Requires you to download the whole blockchain which can take many hours during the initial download. I recommend this wallet.

Bitcoin-QT Download Page

Electrum

Lightweight bitcoin wallet, very easy to use and does not require you to download the blockchain for use.

Electrum Homepage

MultiBit

Another lightweight bitcoin wallet client, does not require you to download the blockchain. Simple and easy to use.

MultiBit Homepage

Mobile Wallets

Bitcoin Wallet

Simple and easy to use mobile wallet, available on Android.

Bitcoin Wallet Download (Play Store)

Mycelium

Another simple and easy mobile bitcoin wallet, Android only.

Mycelium Download (Play Store)

Blockchain.info

Android app used in conjuntion with Blockchain.info, Android app as well as iPhone access.

Blockchain.info (Play Store)

Blockchain.info (iPhone App)


Web Wallets

**Web wallet services have been compromised in the past. I do not recommend these for long term storage nor for very large balances. Use at your own discretion.**

Blockchain.info

The most widely used web wallet, accessible from any device that has internet access, including Apple iPhones and Android devices. Contains many useful features, including key imports and wallet backups.

Blockchain.info

Exchange Wallets

All bitcoin exchanges provide you with a wallet which you can access via the internet.


Paper Wallets

Paper wallets, sometimes referred to as cold storage, are widely considered the safest way to keep bitcoins. So long as you take the proper precautions to ensure the security of your paper wallet, these are an ideal situation for long term storage.

Paper wallets can be generate using a number of wallet services. I recommend you do research on the topic if you want to persue this option. I can always help you with questions.

Bitcoin Paper Wallet

Generates and allows you to print off a paper wallet. Instructions on how to redeem your paper wallet can be found here.

BitcoinPaperWallet.com

Hardware Wallets

Hardware wallets are going to be the next wave of bitcoin security. Hardware wallets store most/all of your private key in offline hardware, making it much less susceptible to virus' or key logging. Usually the private key cannot be transferred off of the device in plain text, again upping the security.

TREZOR

Currently TREZOR devices is accepting pre-orders on their hardware bitcoin wallets. They are to my knowledge the only company offering them at this time.

TREZOR Home

Bitcoin Exchange

Bitcoin exchanges are online markets where you can exchange your money for bitcoins and vice versa. This is an incomplete list of the most popular.

Bitstamp

Bitstamp is the world's second largest bitcoin exchange, a European based company, they have been quickly catching up to MtGox in recent months. Hopefully they can continue the good work heading into the future.

Bitstamp

CampBX

An American based bitcoin exchange, CampBX is relatively pain-free to use for American users. they do have a 30 wait time on new account withdrawals, something that surprises many new users.

CampBX Sign Up

BTC-E

A Russian based bitcoin exchange, they are famous for their BTC-E "Troll Box", a sometimes humorous place to watch traders chat live in often unforeseen ways. BTC-E is the only exchange that deals in alternate crypto currencies, most notably Litecoin and PPCoin.

A warning to new users, DO NOT CLICK ANY LINKS FROM THE CHAT BOX AT BTC-E! Users are often anonymous, and there have been cases of dangerous links being presented as legitimate establishments.

BTC-E

Coinbase

Although not a traditional bitcoin exchange, Coinbase is a very convient way of buying and selling bitcoin in the US. Using Coinbase, you can link your bank account directly with them and have bitcoin sales and purchases taken directly out of your account.

Coinbase Homepage

My Coinbase Referral Link - If you use this link to sign up a new Coinbase account we both will receive $5!

Bitcoin mining is often the most exciting and least understood part of bitcoin for new users. Unfortunately the time for casual bitcoin mining has passed, and it often costs thousands of dollars just to get up and running.

Regardless, as I get many questions on the subject I will touch briefly on bitcoin mining and give some external links so that you can do your own further research.

ASIC

ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) miners are machines designed from the ground up to solve the complex math problem that bitcoin presents in a very efficient way, both power-wise and speed-wise. ASIC miners have begun to hit the market this year, and have already made their impact. The difficulty has risen to such levels that an ASIC is almost now required just to ever see any kind of profit.

Several companies are now offering ASIC miners. An incomplete list includes

Bitcoin Difficulty Information

Be wary of preorders, they have a histroy of taking MUCH longer than originally promised in the past.