Managing your Bitcoin is all about security and safety. Security against theft by others, safety against loss by you. Most people take active steps for the former but many don’t realise just how real the risks are on the second issue until it happens to them.
Basically, if you lose the keys to many Bitcoin Wallets, no one can help you.
This is especially true with the various web-based wallets. They are deliberately designed so you and you alone have access, and because any sort of reset function is seen as a potential security or privacy breach, the simply aren’t there.
Most Wallet providers will let you set up multiple wallets on a single account, and many other crypto-services will automatically set you up with a new wallet… or even multiple wallets… for managing your funds on their platform.
I’d actually struggle to tell you how many wallets are set up in my name… I’d guess at well over 100… but fortunately most of those aren’t funded. I can however tell you exactly how many of them have been funded.
Backing Up Your Account Information
Many wallets like StrongCoin make it easy to download a PDF of all your account information. You can then print that out for offline storage. Where this option isn’t provided, to do it manually and I keep a current hardcopy printout (under lock and key) for all my main accounts.
I also keep a single file record of all my accounts as a password protected Safenote in Roboform. Anytime I create a new wallet or account, I add the details immediately. This is stored on my computer, synched to my tablet and phone, and backed up on the RoboForm server as well.
You’ll also find a lot of the ‘Desktop’ wallets can be configured to produce hardcopy/printable backups and even maintain their own off-site backups. I use a coupel of options I’ll cover in more detail below.
I’ve also started using a web-based service Crypt-Folio to manage and track all my crypto activities. It uses APIs to monitor your different accounts… all your different wallets addresses, exchanges, miners, investments etc… so you can see at a glance exactly where your funds are stored.
For security reasons it does not store passwords… so you need to record those for each site or service, ideally in something like RoboForm. The free version lets you track 200 addresses, so that will be plenty get you started.
However you go about it, you should have a systematic approach to recording and securing your account information, both online and off. It might only be one or two, here and there as you get started, but it can soon get out of control if you don’t have a system in place.
At the very least you should maintain three copies of your account information…
An easily accessible copy on your computer that you can copy-and-paste from as required. It should be password protected as well, so someone accessing your computer doesn’t have easy access to your coin.
A remote backup of that file. Again I use RoboForm, but you can set up other tools to synch the file to another device or secure storage space.
A hardcopy of your details… under lock and key… but accessible enough that you keep it up to date!
Spending Your Bitcoin
More and more businesses are accepting Bitcoin and other popular crypto currencies every week… and everyone;s interests will vary, so there’s little point trying to list them all. I’ve even seen a website recently that will let you pay any bill using bitcoin… they handle the conversion and pay in the local currency… though the fees seems pretty high.
So it’s safe to say, as you start to accumulate more and more bitcoin, there’ll be plenty of people lining up to help you spend them!
One option that will give you more control of that spending though, is an ATM or debit card.
These can be a debit card linked to a bitcoin wallet, or a prepaid debit card. Either one will give you the option to convert Altcoin to cash at an ATM, or to spend your coin at virtually any business on the planet…
Wirex is my preferred option. It is a pre-paid debit card but also a complete online banking solution without all the fees. You will need to verify your identify to fully unlock the card for unlimited deposits and withdrawals. There is a fee for a new card, but you can use this link to get 25% off!
BitPlastic is a bitcoin wallet with a connected ATM/Debit card. You can use the BitPlastic wallet for online purchases as you would any other, but you can also order an ATM card. There is a fee involved that’s refunded once you spend a certain amount. This one is anonymous and doesn’t require the identify verification process.
Further Reading & Resources
Wallets 101 – A quick run through of the different types of wallets and how to set things up to easily manage your cashflow for maximum security and efficiency.
StrongCoin – Good day to day wallet provider. Create a separate wallet to receive payouts from all your various investment programs
CoinBase – Good option for quick purchase of bitcoins that you plan to spend/invest immediately.
Crypt-Folio – Free management tool for tracking your wallet addresses and also various investment/mining programs. Quite new by additional connection options are being added all the time.
RoboForm – Free password manager and more. Lets you make secure Safenotes… record any information you want, quickly and easily… all backed up to RoboForm servers and synched across all your devices.
Wirex – Debit card, online banking without the fees, great for international travel too! 25% of new cards ordered through this link…
BitPlastic – Anonymous debit card & ATM withdrawals