The Best Hardware Wallets for Serious Cryptocurrency Investors
In the first half of 2018, $1.1 billion worth of cryptocurrency was stolen.
For those looking to get into cryptocurrency investment, this is a heavy deterrent. Especially with how easily it was done.
So how do you ensure that your cryptocurrency is secure?
The answer is a cryptocurrency hardware wallet.
What is a Hardware Wallet?
Otherwise known as a cold storage wallet, a hardware wallet is a physical device that you can use to securely store your digital private keys. These private keys serve as your access code to send your cryptocurrency. Hardware wallets enable you to disconnect your private keys from the internet and keep your funds safe offline. You only truly own your cryptocurrency if you own your private keys.
Your other option is the software wallet: or storing your digital keys online. Popular programs, like Jaxx, Atomic wallet and Electrum, are a few such examples of software wallets. By limiting yourself to these, you put yourself at a great deal of risk.
Why you need a Bitcoin Hardware Wallet?
A online wallet is not 100% secure and makes you vulnerable to hackers. As you start building up your cryptocurrency balance, you become a bigger target. A crypto hardware wallet means that a potential thief will need the physical device in hand to access the funds. Combine that with the PIN you need to access the devices, and you have yourself a very secure system. Even if they physically steal your cryptocurrency hardware wallet, they need a PIN or a password to access your wallet and send your cryptocurrency.
Mixing digital verifiers and physical verifiers is important to limit access to your personal data.
So, What is the best bitcoin hardware wallet for you? That answer changes depending upon your needs, but we’ve selected a few top contenders to consider:
If you want more information on the best hardware wallet for you, read the product details below.
Best Hardware Wallets
Ledger has done well to emphasize a wallet that encourages simplicity, but high security standards. Costing at around $119 USD, the Ledger Nano X is the second most expensive among our choices.
This crypto hardware wallet has the same chip-based security you expect from your credit cards and passports.
It stores over 100 applications at the same time. These include Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, and many others.
The device is foldable, so it is designed for mobility. It is made with brushed stainless steel and plastic.
Among our choices mentioned, this is the only one advertised with Bluetooth technology. Ledger maintains security by encrypting both ends of the Bluetooth communication.
If you lose your device or the memory becomes corrupted, it has a 24-word recovery phrase for restoring data. By filling out your recovery sheets, you ensure no loss of keys.
The Ledger Nano X comes with a USB cable, a getting started leaflet, 3 recovery sheets, and one keychain strap.
If you don’t like it, it has a 14 day return policy phone on Ledger’s website.
It supports Windows, Linux, Android 7+, iOS 9+, and MacOS 10.08+.
It has many of the same features as our previously mentioned product: simplistic two-button controls, chip security similar to credit cards, and an extensive recovery key feature.
The device is still powerful: supporting over 1100 cryptocurriences in use. All Ledger devices are also supported by BOLOS, a custom-made operating system.
An important note: You will need an OTG kit to connect your Nano S to a desktop or smartphone.
It supports Windows, Linux, Android 7+ and MacOS 10.08+.
Trezor, a powerful bitcoin hardware wallet producer, comes to the table with its own line of options. The most interesting being the Trezor Model T.
This device advertises itself as the next generation hardware wallet and bolsters this claim with a Color LCD touchscreen display. As a result, the going rate for this hardware wallet is 150 EUR ($168 USD). The most expensive among our options.
It supports more than 1000 coins and comes with an impressive array of accessories: a magnetic dock, USB-C cable, two recovery seed booklets, and stickers.
Trezor emphasizes its strong security features, with a heavily audited open source ethos. Making it a strong bid for best hardware wallet.
It supports Windows, Linux, mobile devices, and MacOS 10.08+.
The Trezor One is a hardware wallet that encourages you to throw out your 10 step guide to securing your bitcoins. A bold claim for those contending to the the best bitcoin hardware wallet.
The lower price tag makes it at par with the Nano S, 69 EUR ($78 USD). Much like the Ledger products, simplicity is key with this one.
The OLED screen it supports holds up to six lines of text, providing you with a good amount of information. The accessories it comes with include a micro-USB cable and two recovery booklets.
It supports Windows, Linux, and MacOS 10.08+. However, it does not support mobile phones.
These Trezor devices are also CE and RoHS certified, ensuring that they meet quality and environmental standards.
KeepKey is a crypto hardware wallet is the only device featured today without an operating system.This may seem like a step backwards, but it does limit malware’s ability to infect your devices. Many viruses and keyloggers look for vulnerabilities in these systems. This makes KeepKey a very secure device.
The price tag is somewhere in the middle of our choices, costing $79. This is around the same price as the Trezor One.
It has a large display, and all transactions must be approved using the confirmation button.
It comes with a woven nylon USB cable and a recovery sentence backup card. Another solid contendor for best hardware wallet.
How Hardware Wallets Work
Crypto hardware wallets are considered to be the most secure option when storing your private keys.
All hardware wallets are a form of two-factor authentication, meaning that you need two ways to identify yourself to access your information.
Common examples include passwords and PINs, text verification, and smartphone applications. Think of your car fob: you will need both to start the car; just like you will need more than one way to access your cryptocurrency hardware wallet.
You trade in a bit of convenience to secure your information. It may be easier to just log into an account with your coins in one place. But with a cold wallet, hackers will need physical access to your device to get those coins.
Some cold wallets can be easily transitioned to hot wallets. With the Ledger Nano S, you can access your keys using MyEtherWallet. However, be wary when using any third-party applications. You will want to ensure the security of your private keys.
What is a Private Key
When someone talks about private keys, they are referring to the codes needed to access your cryptocurrency.
You do not store the “coins” on your cryptocurrency hardware wallet, you are storing the keys needed to access those coins.
Each time you purchase a coin, you are given a private key. That key can be stored in your online account, or software wallet, for ease of future access. It is then moved to a bitcoin hardware wallet, where you are able to ensure its security. To ensure the security, you limit its exposure to link to other devices unnecessarily. This brings up the next security point.
Why a Screen is Important
When choosing the best bitcoin hardware wallet, security is of the utmost importance. You will want to consider a screen. This takes away the need to plug in your device needlessly.
These wallets are nearly impossible to hack, and by keeping that data to a screen, you avoid the needless risk of needing to connect to a computer to access your information.
Tips when using a Crypto Hardware Wallet
Keep Your Device Secure
We’ve mentioned the importance of a screen, the security of bitcoin hardware wallets, and the importance of storing your private keys. But no device is impregnable. Avoid usage of public computers, don’t take your device to where it doesn’t need to go, and always keep it in a secure location.
Secure your Computer
Regularly run virus protection scans and keep your programs up to date to ensure that there are limited vulnerabilities. Even with the enhanced security behind hardware wallets, it is important to maintain good security habits.
Set Up Your Authentication System
Before you consider a cryptocurrency hardware wallet, it is important to ensure that you have alternate authentication options. Many of these devices come with recovery keys to regain access to your accounts should something occur. Should you get locked out, it is important to have more than one way to identify yourself.
Become Familiar With Your Device
This comes back to choosing the best bitcoin hardware wallet for yourself. If it requires an extensive manual and uses technical jargon, you are not likely to keep it. Joining a community is also a good way to get advice on how to understand your hardware wallet.
How to Choose a Bitcoin Hardware Wallet
So we have a good deal of information down, but this leads us back to the big question: how do I pick the best hardware wallet for me? We will focus in on two major companies to aid in our decision: TREZOR and Ledger.
Which is better – TREZOR or Ledger
TREZOR and Ledger are the two biggest companies among hardware wallet producers. With that in mind, word-of-mouth advertising is key for these sorts of companies. Lookup Amazon reviews for both the Ledger Nano X and the Trezor Model T for a good reference point.
Based on public reception, there is a clear preference for Trezor products, as they have a higher average review score. Some individuals go as far as to say that you should avoid buying Ledger entirely, mainly because Trezor is open source. Ledger has addressed this directly, and has emphasized their own design philosophy, indicating the open-source development software to be too restrictive and not secure enough.
Open-source applications are universally preferred, as that means that people can see the details of what makes their applications. The drawback being that everyone can see those applications. But TREZOR bolsters itself with a strong support network and is backed by a strong security audits. Both are strong companies producing some of the best bitcoin hardware wallets around.
FAQ & Summary
What is a bitcoin hardware wallet?
A physical device used to securely store your private keys.
What is a private key?
A key used to identify and access your digital coins
What makes hardware wallets secure?
Hardware wallets act as a form of multi-factor authentication, requiring a physical device to access your digital keys.
Why do I need a hardware wallet?
If your digital information is compromised, hardware wallets ensure that your bitcoins are protected.
How do I recover my coins if I lose or destroy my device?
Many devices come with recovery steps and sentences that allow you to regain access should something happen. Familiarize yourself with your hardware wallet’s recovery features.
What happens if my wallet is stolen?
It is important to ensure that your wallet is PIN protected should someone attempt to steal it. Many of these wallets come with this built-in security feature.
What if I don’t like the wallet?
Familiarize yourself with your company’s return policy on unwanted wallets.
How do I pick the best hardware wallet?
Define what features are most important to you and what you are willing to pay. Ensure you choose a reputable company, such as any of those mentioned above.
What is the best bitcoin hardware wallet for me?
The answer really depends on what you are looking for.
It needs to be secure, but convenient for you. Look at the operating systems first. If you don’t see your supported system on the list, you may want to avoid it.
Having a device that doesn’t support Android when that’s your platform of choice won’t be really helpful for you. At the very least, contact the developers if you are unsure.
If you don’t plan on using the Bluetooth feature, the Nano X may not be your first choice. Don’t pay for something you aren’t going to use. If you feel like an OS is a needless feature for these devices, you might be looking at the KeepKey.
If you are looking to get your feet wet, I would choose the cheaper options we have presented here. KeepKey, The Nano S, and the Trezor One.
If you don’t like it, Ledger has a 15-day return policy. Trezor has a powerful customer service support system for technical issues.
You may also wish to utilize the knowledge of the community. There are many people who have experience with these sorts of devices.
Leverage that knowledge to ensure that you know how to solve these technical issues. Asking a question is better than going forward blind.
The best crypto hardware wallet is up to the user. All of them are powerful contenders in their own right. Define what features are best for you before you buy, and you will find a bitcoin hardware wallet that fits you.
Final Thoughts on Hardware Wallets
With all the options you have available, it can be difficult to pick the best hardware wallet for you. So lets go back over the key features and what makes them unique.
- Ledger Nano X – Best Overall Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency Hardware Wallet 2019 – $119 USD bluetooth model that can store 100 applications at the same time with portable design.
- Ledger Nano S – Best Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency Hardware Wallet for the Price 2019 – $59 USD model requiring OTG it to connect to desktop and smartphone. Supports over 1100 cryptocurrencies.
- Trezor Model T – Top Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency Hardware Wallet 2019 – $168 USD touchscreen model with strong security features. Supports more than 1000 coins. RoHS certified.
- Trezor One – Top Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency Hardware Wallet for the Price 2019 – $78 USD model that emphasizes simplicity and versatility. Supports more than 1000 coins. RoHS certified.
- KeepKey – $79 USD model without an operating system. Transactions must be approved using confirmation button.