Crypto Wallets

Hardware Wallet vs Software Wallet: Crypto wallet choices for 2022

Crypto wallets enable crypto users to send, receive, and store their digital assets/currencies. Once a user picks a crypto platform or exchange to hold transactions over the crypto market, he is essentially signing up for a crypto wallet of the respective coin/cryptocurrency.

Digital assets are safest to store in a wallet instead of cryptocurrency online exchange platforms. The crypto market is prone to cyber threats, and therefore, picking a reliable and safe platform is essential. If certain platforms cannot service their wallet, they might also recommend you to third-party wallets.

Creating a crypto wallet account to store your assets from the get-go might seem troublesome but necessary. For new users, the most important choice is to pick between hardware wallets and software wallets. The ultimate crypto wallet helps ensure one’s smooth crypto future. We will review all the pros and cons of hardware and software wallets to help you pick which one suits your needs.

Analyzing hardware wallets

In the world of crypto, hardware wallets are called cold wallets interchangeably. Cold storage wallets do not require online servers and can store the assets in the wallets, which are physical devices. The software program of hardware wallets allows users to keep their assets safe offline and only allows access via private key once the device is connected to the main computer system or device.

Cyber-attacks are reduced since the assets are not stored in any online servers but rather offline. This storage type adds immense security to assets since they cannot be accessed by a third party over the Internet, especially if they do not have a private key. No third party is involved in a hardware wallet that can dictate transactions or access the user’s transaction history.

How to choose a hardware wallet

Hardware wallets contain a range of security features to protect your digital currency keys. They’re protected by a PIN and often include other security measures, such as a screen for viewing transaction details and buttons on the device for manually verifying transactions. We have summarized comparison points to help you with your hardware wallet choice.

  • Security features. What features ensure security? Is it secured by a PIN? Does it include its own screen? Can transactions be verified by manually pressing buttons? Are there any reported instances of security breaches involving the wallet?
  • Ease of use. How easy is the wallet is to set up and use? Are the instructions easy to understand the processes involved? Does the wallet makes it as simple and straightforward to keep track of your crypto holdings?
  • Supported currencies. Are coins and tokens you want to store actually supported by the wallet?
  • Supported operating systems. Is the device compatible with the operating system you’re running on your computer or smartphone?
  • How you actually access your crypto. Does the hardware wallets come with its own hot wallet, which is typically a browser extension or web wallet? Or does the hardware wallet allow you to interact with your crypto holdings using a third-party wallet?
  • Back up and restore. Is there a process to back up your wallet and restore your coins if something goes wrong? Is this easy to do and will it increase the level of security for your funds?
  • Price. How does the price compare with the prices of competing wallets, including exchange rates and shipping costs if buying from an overseas provider? Which option gives you better value for your money?
  • Portability. Consider how easy it would be to carry around on a day-to-day basis.
  • Independent reviews. What problems (if any) were encountered by users? Were they easily resolved by the provider? Is there support for the wallet?

Hardware wallets compared

There are essentially two separate parts to a hardware wallet. The first part is a desktop, mobile, or web client connected to the Internet and performs nearly all the basic features of an ordinary hot wallet.

This software wallet creates the transactions but cannot sign them – which is where the second part, the physical hardware wallet that contains your private keys, comes in. The transaction must be sent to your offline hardware wallet, verified by you, and signed by the device before it can be completed.

All in all, having a hardware wallet to store your digital assets offline is the best way to go among other cryptocurrency wallets. You can browse the ideal wallet from reliable providers and enhance your crypto storage options over mobile wallets. Choices, as well as prices, are wide-ranging. You can also view several discussions on crypto hardware wallets vis-a-vis exchanges here.

Hardware Wallet Coins Supported FeaturesCost
Ledger Nano XBTC, ETH, XRP, BCH,
ADA, LTC, BNB, EOS,
XTZ, XLM & 1,350+ more
Bluetooth functionality, more memory;
higher quality screen than Nano S.
$119
Ledger Nano SBTC, XRP, ETH, BCH,
EOS, XLM, LTC, TRX,
ADA, MIOTA & 1,330+ more
$59
Trezor Model TBTC, ETH, XRP, USDT,
BCH, LTC, EOS, XTZ, LINK,
XLM & 1380+ more
New features include touchscreen
and improved processing.
$221
Trezor OneBTC, ETH, BCH, LTC, LINK,
XLM, HT, USDC, DASH
& 1280+ more
Keeps your cryptocurrency
safe from hackers and malware.
$63
KeepkeyBTC, BCH, DASH, DOGE,
ETH, LTC, NMC
Virus- and malware-proof hardware wallet$49
SugiBTC, ETH, LTC, XRP, BCH,
ERC20
An NFC cryptocurrency wallet card with
a mobile app that supports major cryptos
and select ERC20 tokens.
$69

Analyzing software wallets

Software wallets are downloaded as applications over phones and other devices connected to the Internet. The application has a simple user interface, and only the user can access it through his private keys. Between hardware and software wallets, the software wallets are a type of digital wallet that can keep all your data and transactions on a mobile device.

Software wallets have private and public keys to help users access their wallets and also allow other users over the crypto market to hold transactions with the user. It is not too much hassle even if you lose your wallet’s private keys; access to online wallets can easily be recovered. The two-step verification process and all the private keys keep your assets safe from security breaches.

Although most wallets on various crypto exchange platforms are prone to hacking, the presence of a software wallet over the blockchain means that users can store cryptocurrency without worrying about its safety. The blockchain protects user data and privacy to the fullest through its software.

Most exchanges will offer free use of a software wallet, and your choice varies between a hosted and a self-custody wallet. Here is a good discussion on the different options and set up your crypto wallet on an exchange.

We have several software wallet reviews for specific coins, uses, and crypto exchange transactions.

What are mobile wallets?

Mobile wallets can easily be downloaded on your mobile phone from the respective provider. There are different functions that various mobile wallet apps perform for their users. The software wallets on mobiles either store their users’ assets or allow users to hold transactions over the crypto market actively. Online mobile wallets are usually susceptible to hacking. Therefore, most people do not use one wallet alone. The functionality of the interphase is the primary factor in choosing a mobile wallet. We also have discussions of mobile wallets here.

What are desktop wallets?

As the name suggests, desktop wallets allow users to download the software wallet of their choice over a laptop or PC screen. This option might be better for traders who want constant communication and news of the crypto market and their assets. Desktop wallets allow users to interact more with third parties over the blockchain while maintaining their assets.

The user has complete control over processing his transactions and storing his assets. Most people fear that desktop wallets might expose their assets too much, but that’s where personal responsibility and extra precaution must be practiced.

What are online wallets?

Online wallets are the most convenient as they can easily be accessed. Most devices allow users to search their online wallets, and they can log in easily with their private keys at any time or place. These online wallets are controlled by third-party players, and therefore, most of the control and access lies with them. A wallet’s accessibility is only good if it doesn’t open up the users’ assets to online hacking.

Hot or cold?

hot wallet is any wallet that has an active connection to or is hosted on the Internet. Hot wallets go with almost all new coins to facilitate accessibility; they’re more user-friendly than cold wallets. Moving funds in and out of these wallets is quick and easy using the Internet. Unfortunately, this ease of use also comes with disadvantages, such as being susceptible to hackers, phishing scams, and other vulnerabilities. Examples of hot wallets include those offered by exchanges or web wallets.

cold wallet refers to any wallet stored offline. Cold wallet storage can refer to several methods, such as creating a paper wallet with a QR code, storing a wallet on an air-gapped computer (disconnected from the Internet), or using a hardware wallet. While considered more secure than a hot wallet, cold wallets are often slow to use, require a physical object, and can be damaged in ways hot wallets are not. Hardware wallets are a particular type of cold wallet, popular for their additional security and redundancy features.

Hardware vs software?

The offline features of hardware wallets make them safer than software wallets since there is no dependency on a third party. A hardware wallet is protected from any security threats and asset loss. If your hardware wallet is lost, stolen, or damaged, you can easily and securely recover all of your crypto assets, as long as you have access to the 12, 18, or 24-word recovery seed. 

All of your cryptocurrency is stored on the collective blockchain network. The hardware wallet stores the recovery seed that you backup offline, on paper, or much better yet, on a stainless steel recovery seed backup device. Suppose you no longer have access to your hardware wallet. In that case, you can import the recovery seed into another wallet, and you will regain access to all of your accounts, balances, and transaction data.

The numerous layers of security offered by hardware wallets make them costly but worthy of investing. Compared to the services of other online wallets and bitcoin wallets, a hardware wallet will last much longer without making changes to its system. Crypto assets should not be kept in online wallets for too long to avoid hacking or other security threats; the hardware wallets store assets so that the user doesn’t need online storage.

Conclusion

Many cryptocurrency platforms and exchanges offer various hardware wallets and software wallets. The ultimate choice mostly depends on a user’s business plan that determines the type of wallet. Both wallets offer their advantages and disadvantages.

Hardware wallets are much more secure but are limited in their scope. A software wallet can be accessed anytime and much more conveniently than a hardware wallet. There are many types of wallets and ways to access them, but the choice of a wallet hinges on purpose, security, and user-friendly features at a reasonable price.

There is a far wider range of software wallets than hardware wallets, as every new coin can come up with its wallet. The rule of thumb is to compare features, emphasizing security – remembering not your key, not your coin – come up with a solid plan, and choose a crypto wallet suitable for the purpose.

This post was last modified on December 5, 2021 4:00 pm

Shawn Du'Mmett

Former IT development and consultant, remote team and collaboration expert, PM, CCO, writer, dreamer, idealist looking to collaborate with global teams on a global teal/turquoise organisation. Shawn's dream is working together openly, to get what writers need and want, and to solve biggest global problems. He is building a collaboration system from the start that everyone can own and define, allowing them to work together, to decide how it works and to their highest ideals.

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