What Are Crypto Desktop Wallets?
When it comes to the crypto world, wallets are devices or software that allow crypto holders to store, transfer, and receive crypto. From this simple definition, you can see that wallets function like personal banks, which very much aligns with the decentralization narrative that fuels crypto technology. However, we have witnessed the emergence of third-party platforms that provide wallet and custodial services to crypto holders, which is slightly similar to the operations of banks. Remarkably, desktop wallets fall between these two models of crypto wallet services, and this has made it all too important to understand the fundamentals of each desktop wallet provider you are considering.
The basic definition of desktop wallets, regardless of their mode of operations, is that they are downloadable wallet apps strictly designed for computers. And, it is impossible to access a desktop wallet on any other system apart from the one where it was originally installed. While this is somewhat a limitation, as it restricts users from accessing their wallets on any other device, it is, however, advantageous security-wise. For one, the only way to hack these wallets is to get hold of or compromise users’ computers, which is way harder than having to steal users’ login details and access the wallet from any device.
What Are the Types of Desktop Wallets?
Full Nodes Wallets
To use a full-node wallet, you need to download the entire blockchain of the coin you desire to store on the wallet. Depending on the size of the blockchain, this might take some time and require a lot of space. Nonetheless, if you somehow complete this process without any hassle, then your computer would function as a full node of the blockchain network. As such, you can verify transactions and easily access all of the activities generated on the blockchain.
Simple Payment Verification Wallets
Simple Payment Verification (SPV) wallets are the exact opposites of full nodes wallets. They do not require users to download the entire blockchain of their preferred coins. Instead, they allow users to carry out transactions without the burden of undertaking the verification responsibilities of the network. In essence, they are lightweight apps that take up verification responsibilities on behalf of their clients.
What Are the Ranges of Crypto That Desktop Wallets Support?
Single Crypto Desktop Wallets
There are desktop wallets essentially built to store only one coin. For instance, a bitcoin desktop wallet would only provide the infrastructure necessary to store bitcoin. Needless to say, the obvious downside of this wallet is their decision to streamline its services to a particular cryptocurrency, which could frustrate multicoin holders. Apart from this limitation, this class of desktop wallets has topnotch support and security features since they only have to worry about tailoring their services to just one blockchain protocol.
Multicoin Desktop Wallets
Multicoin desktop wallets allow users to store more than one type of cryptocurrency. Hence, users do not have to download more than one desktop wallet, especially if they own a diversified crypto portfolio. The downside of multicoin wallets is the recurring issue that borders on the capacity of multicoin wallets to sustain quality systems for all the crypto they claim to support.
How Do Desktop Wallets Fair Against Other Classes of Wallets?
Desktop wallets are online platforms, which makes them hot wallets. There are other classes of hot wallets. And although they offer a more flexible mode of operation, they are not as secure as the desktop wallets. For one, mobile wallets are accessible on smartphones, a criterion that is invaluable to roaming crypto holders. These assertions also hold for web wallets that are majorly third-party cloud websites offering wallet and custodial features to users. While these classes of wallets offer unlimited accessibility, they, nonetheless, expose users to hacks.
Also, note that the safety of a desktop wallet does not come close to the level of security available on offline wallets, particularly hardware wallets. Hardware wallets are devices that ensure that the private keys of users are hidden from online entities, even when you connect them to the internet to facilitate transactions.
Ironically, some desktop wallets offer offline vaults or are compatible with hardware wallets. Combining these two forms of services beefs up the security of desktop wallets. However, we always advise our readers to store a large chunk of their funds on hardware wallets and only put the crypto they can afford to lose on hot wallets.
What Are the Features That You Will Most Likely Find on Desktop Wallets?
When it comes to desktop wallets, there is no shortage of options. Each has unique features that set it apart from others. Regardless of the type of the desktop wallet, you are considering, here are some likely features that it would provide.
Two-Factor Authentication: A majority of desktop wallets have begun to offer two-factor authentication to ensure that only authorized users have access to the contents of the wallet.
OfflineStorage: Another security trend in the desktop wallet market is offline storage functionality, which provides added security benefits.
Direct Coin Exchange: Desktop wallets now adopt various instant exchange solutions like Atonic Swap, Changelly, and ShapeShift that allow users to trade coins without having to involve third-party crypto exchanges.
What Are the Factors to Consider Before Opting For A Crypto Desktop Wallet Provider?
Having defined the core functions or features of desktop wallets, the following section explores some of the integral factors that should guide your research for the best cryptocurrency desktop wallet. The factors are as follows:
The Number of Cryptos The Wallets Supports
We have explained earlier in this guide that crypto desktop wallets either stick to a cryptocurrency or provide storage features for a broad array of coins. The former is suitable for participants who have no intention of holding more than one coin. On the other hand, the latter attracts crypto holders who have diversified crypto portfolios. While choosing a multicoin desktop wallet, be sure to verify that the range of coins supported include the cryptocurrencies you plan on owning. Also, have it at the back of your mind that desktop wallet providers, claiming to have products that support a majority of the coins in the crypto market, are not as efficient as the ones that cater to a handful of cryptocurrencies.
The Type of Desktop Wallet
As earlier stated in this guide, there are two major types of desktop wallets. Some entail the complete download of blockchain networks while others do not. You could opt for the latter if you are certain that you are patient enough to go through the complex process of setting up a full node wallet. Also, choosing full nodes wallets could help you experience the real workings of blockchain since you are an integral part of the verification system that contributes to the credibility of transactions recorded on the ledger. Contrary to this, if all you want is to access crypto wallet facilities and a fast-medium of executing transactions, then the Simple Payment Verification SPV wallet is the obvious choice for you. With this, you can do away with the hassle that comes with setting up full nodes systems and the responsibility of verifying other people’s transactions.
The Security Feature of The Desktop Wallet
Desktop wallet providers must avail standard security features to ensure that your holdings are not susceptible to theft. One of such features is the two-factor authentication system, which is an important requirement for hack-prone platforms. This feature activates a secondary verification infrastructure that entails suspected login activities, or transactions, to undergo strict authentication processes. For instance, you can set transaction limits on your desktop wallets so that transaction that is above your predefined limits could trigger two-factor authentication, whereby the wallet sends an OTP code to your phone or email.
Another security measure that you should look out for is the multisig system. This system allows you to set the wallet to require X number of people to authorize transactions before it processes them. As such, it becomes extremely hard for nefarious entities to access your funds even if your username or password has been compromised.
Lastly, you could adopt desktop wallets with cold storage options. Desktop wallets that offer this functionality provide the added security benefits only found synonymous with offline wallets. A majority of desktop wallets that fall under this category are compatible with hardware wallets.
The Ease-Of-Use and User Experience of The Desktop Wallet
Just as it is with almost every crypto sector, there are desktop wallets suitable for newbies, there are those that appeal to crypto experts, and we have a few that cater to both groups of crypto participants. Hence, it is imperative to gauge your expertise in dissecting crypto solutions before opting for a desktop wallet, as you would find that there are platforms offering services that are too complex for new entrants.
In the same way, you should explore the design and interface of the desktop wallet to ascertain its intuitiveness and how aesthetically pleasing it is. Note that desktop wallets with dull interfaces and complex navigation processes might not appeal to people who are not technically inclined.
The Customer Services Culture of The Desktop Wallet
Considering that utilizing some of the features on some desktop wallets might require a level of expertise in programming or crypto terminologies, it is, therefore, vital to opt for service providers with quality customer support systems. Ensure that your desktop wallet provides seamless communication channels where users can access their representatives 24/7. There are cases when crypto holders have problems with transactions or recovering their wallets, and the wallet providers’ propensity to provide topnotch feedback mechanisms has a significant bearing on how fast users resolve such issues.
The Extra Features Available on The Platform
Desktop wallets are increasingly adopting new features that would allow users to carry out specific tasks relating to cryptocurrency. For one, they have begun to initiate intra-wallet trades that bypasses the need to enlist the help of crypto exchanges before you can trade coins. In essence, you can facilitate instant trades by using Atomic Swap, Changelly, or ShapeShift, depending on the technology that the desktop wallet adopts. There are other suites of features available on desktop wallets, and you should review them to determine how relevant they are to your crypto activities.
How Did Cryptolinks Compile Its List of The Best Crypto Desktop Wallets?
While noting the cumbersomeness of the process involved in identifying quality desktop wallets, we at Cryptolinks have decided to extensively research the desktop wallet niche and present to you all the information you need to make a prudent choice. Hence, we incorporated an organic research methodology that considers all of the recommendations listed in this guide and explicitly explores the workings of desktop wallets to ensure that they comply with these standards.
To achieve this, we verified the model of operation that is at work on each desktop wallet. Here, we assessed the implications of this model on the ease of use. We also examined whether the benefits of adopting a full node wallet or an SPV model trump their downsides. Next, we checked to see the number of cryptocurrencies that each desktop wallet supports and if they have the right infrastructure to sustain a multicoin ecosystem.
Afterward, we analyzed the security features accessible on each site. In this research section, we chose two-factor authentication, premium encryption protocols, and multi-sig function as the standards to base our verdict on. Thereafter, we assessed the user experience and gauged the beginner-friendliness of the sites under review. Customer support culture also came to play in this review, as it was obvious that only platforms with topnotch feedback mechanisms can avail 24/7 customer support. Lastly, we explored the extra features provided to users and the relevance of each.
In the end, we found 20 desktop wallet providers with quality products. However, before opting for any of the platforms listed below, we advise that you peruse their weaknesses and strengths accessible in their respective reviews.