Bitcoin Education

Best Bitcoin Desktop Wallets in 2020

Now that you bought some Bitcoin, it’s important to keep your funds safe! While it may seem easy and convenient to leave your bitcoins sitting in an exchange wallet, it’s a good idea to explore other safer options for storing your BTC.

A Bitcoin desktop wallet is one such option you should look at. Here, we take a closer look at what a desktop wallet is, its pros and cons, and offer our recommendations on the best desktop wallets for safely storing your bitcoins.

Click below to skip right to the reviews.

Electrum - Old School. Good security.
Exodus - Easy to use. Good for Altcoins.
Bitcoin Core - Full node so you support Bitcoin network.
Wasabi - Best for privacy.
Armory - Best for security.
Jaxx Liberty - Good for Altcoins.

What is a Bitcoin Desktop Wallet?

A Bitcoin desktop wallet (as you’ve probably guessed!) is a cryptocurrency wallet that you can download onto your computer. These software wallets can be accessed via your desktop and they are capable of safely storing your crypto holdings via the use of a private key that is stored on your hard drive.

Most Bitcoin desktop wallets available today are compatible with all major operating systems, be it Windows, MacOS, or Linux, so you can be assured that there will be a version that works on your computer!

Pros and Cons of Bitcoin Desktop Wallets

With any type of Bitcoin wallet, it’s important to know its advantages and disadvantages before you start using it. So let’s take a deeper look at the pros and cons of a Bitcoin desktop wallet.

In terms of security, Bitcoin desktop wallets are middle of the pack. As they’re typically connected to the Internet, desktop wallets are considered “hot” wallets which means there’s some measure of insecurity when using them. They’re definitely not as ironclad as using cold storage!

Desktop wallets do offer more security than simply storing your funds on your exchange account. This is because desktop wallets give you full control of your funds through your own private key; this makes it more difficult for others to access or hack into your funds.

Thus, desktop wallets are best used for storing smaller amounts of crypto for the short or middle term. With a desktop wallet, it’s easy to move your funds around whether it’s for a transaction or to buy and sell.

The partial exception to this is Armory wallet. Armory allows the creation of cold storage wallets and offers multisig. It is one of the oldest and best tools for storing your Bitcoins long term.

One good thing about Bitcoin desktop wallets is that most of them are free to download and use. This is useful for newcomers to cryptocurrency who don’t yet want to invest in buying a hardware wallet or even experienced users who want to separate their funds into different wallets.

The range of desktop wallets available is also impressive, with something to cater to everyone. The beginner may prefer one with an easy-to-use interface while the more savvy user can use a desktop wallet that offers advanced features to preserve privacy and fungibility of their funds.

One important thing to note: when using a Bitcoin desktop wallet, be sure to keep your recovery phrase safe! You’ll need it to recover your wallet and funds, in the event that your computer breaks down or is stolen or lost.

Top 6 Bitcoin Desktop Wallets for Safely Storing Your Bitcoin

Ready to delve into the world of desktop wallets? Here are 6 of the best Bitcoin desktop wallets that you should check out.

Electrum

Image source: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Electrum‌‌

Currency Support: Bitcoin only
Open-Source: Yes
Custody:
Non-custodial
Best For: Experienced users

First released in 2011, Electrum is one of the most popular Bitcoin desktop wallets -- and for good reason.

This open-source wallet is non-custodial, which means that you retain full control of your funds since you hold the private keys. It also offers great security for users, thanks to their multi-signature support.

For savvy users, you’ll love their integration with hardware wallets which makes it convenient for you to manage all your cryptocurrencies with added security.

One unique feature of Electrum is that it allows you to change your transaction fee. This is handy when the network is “congested” and you need to set the fee higher in order to get your BTC transaction confirmed.

The downside of Electrum is that it’s not beginner-friendly. The user interface is pretty clunky and can be difficult to navigate. So don’t be alarmed if you feel overwhelmed by the interface! Once you take some time to get used to it, you’ll love the functionality and security of this Bitcoin desktop wallet.

Exodus

Image source: https://www.exodus.io/

Currency Support: Multi-currency
Open-Source: No
Custody: Non-custodial
Best For: All users, especially beginners

For a desktop wallet that is functional, secure, and pretty to look at, check out Exodus. Launched in 2016, this desktop wallet is the ideal choice for beginners to cryptocurrency who want something simple to store their crypto holdings.

This wallet is great if you have diverse holdings as it can house over 100 different cryptocurrencies. Each crypto will be held in its own individual wallet and you can easily access them by toggling between the wallets.

The key feature of Exodus is definitely its clean and clear user interface. Even newbies can easily navigate it!

With Exodus, you have full control of your funds as the private key is stored on your computer so security is not an issue. That said, the wallet is not open-source and does not support two-factor authentication or multi-signatures. As it’s not as secure as some of the other desktop wallets out there, it’s not recommended to store large amounts of crypto in your Exodus wallet.

That said, this is still a great choice for beginners and users who want an easy-to-use desktop wallet.

Bitcoin Core

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin_Core

Currency Support: Bitcoin only
Open-Source: Yes
Custodial: Non-custodial
Best For: All users

Bitcoin core is the reference implementation. This means its code defines what Bitcoin is and how it works.

It is the original wallet released by Satoshi.

It is a full-node wallet that gives you access to the whole blockchain. Having a Bitcoin Core wallet means having to download the entire blockchain to your computer which means you can then verify transactions on the network - nifty!

When you use Bitcoin Core, you don't outsource trust. As you have a full node with the whole blockchain that completely validates transactions, you are part of Bitcoin's decentralised system and help validate the integrity of the network.

Some key features include compatibility with Tor (which allows for more privacy) and having full control over your bitcoins. The privacy and security offered by Bitcoin Core is top-notch!

The downside is that this wallet takes up a lot of space and bandwidth to run and is often too cumbersome for the average crypto user.

Wasabi

Image source: https://wasabiwallet.io/

Currency Support: Bitcoin only
Open-Source: Yes
Custodial: Non-custodial
Best For: Users who value privacy and anonymity

If privacy and anonymity are your top concerns, then Wasabi is the Bitcoin desktop wallet for you.

Released in 2018, Wasabi uses a type of CoinJoin technology that was invented by the wallet’s creator. This desktop wallet “implements trustless coin shuffling with mathematically provable anonymity” in order to enhance privacy for its users.

Essentially here’s how CoinJoin works. A group of Bitcoin transactions are merged and mixed in order to obfuscate the source of transactions, and from this big pool, each recipient then gets the amount that’s due to them… all while their bitcoins remain anonymous and fungible.

CoinJoin works on the premise the more users there are to contribute to the mixing, the better the anonymity the wallet can provide. So it’s important to note that Wasabi is still growing its user base, and some coins may be re-mixed at the moment.

Compared to the other Bitcoin desktop wallets on this list, Wasabi is still in its early stages but it’s definitely one to consider especially for users who value privacy and fungibility.

Armory

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Currency Support: Bitcoin only
Open-Source: Yes
Custodial?: Non-custodial
Best For: Experienced users who value security

Super keen on keeping your bitcoins safe? Billed as “The Only Open-Source Wallet With Cold Storage And Multi-Signature Support”, Armory is an open-source wallet that is well-loved for its emphasis on security.

Bobby Lee former CEO of BTCChina said that when they were operating as the most popular exchange in the world they used Armory as their cold storage solution.

Circa 2017 most exchanges likely used Armory. Possibly many still do, obviously they dont publicise that information so its hard to know.

Currently updates are rare. However it still works as good as ever.

Some of its key features include multi-signature support, cold storage integration, and the ability to set up multiple wallet addresses to segregate your funds. For those who value security, you’ll love that Armory uses the Glacier Protocol which is intended to provide high levels of security for the cold storage for bitcoins.

With high security comes some trade-offs. To use Armory, you’ll need to download the whole Bitcoin blockchain -- this means you’ll need a lot of space and bandwidth to use the wallet. The user interface is also slightly complex and may be too much for users who are new to crypto.

That said, if high security is your top concern, you should definitely consider using Armory as your Bitcoin desktop wallet.

Jaxx Liberty

Image source: https://jaxx.io

Currency Support: Multi-currency
Open-Source: No; but code is viewable
Custodial?: Non-custodial
Best For: Users who want cross-platform functionality

If you’re looking for cross-platform accessibility with your crypto wallet, then take a closer look at Jaxx Liberty. Not only does Jaxx Liberty offer desktop wallets, there’s also mobile versions as well as a Chrome extension!

Jaxx Liberty supports over 90 cryptocurrencies, making it easy to house all your holdings in one wallet. With Jaxx, you retain control of your private keys and ensure that your funds remain safe from prying hands.

Another noteworthy feature is their friendly design and interface. Jaxx Liberty is easy to navigate and intuitive to use, making it a great choice for those new to cryptocurrency. However, similar to Exodus, Jaxx Liberty lacks two-factor authentication and multi-signature support.

All in all, it’s still a solid choice of desktop wallet for those looking for something simple and secure.

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About Liza Sharifuddin

Liza is a freelance writer and editor with a keen interest in cryptocurrency. While she’s hodling, you can find her in dance class, climbing a wall or seeking out the best dessert spots in town.