One of the most popular variants of these solutions is paper wallets. They have a reputation for being arguably the safest means of securing cryptocurrency. Based on this perceived reliability, we have chosen to review the paper wallet niche of the crypto space, explore the workings of these strain of wallets, and introduce you to the top performing crypto platforms enabling these wallet services.
But first, let us familiarize you with the concept of crypto keys and how they come to play in paper wallets.
What Are Public Addresses and Private Keys?
When it comes to securing cryptocurrency, there are two concepts you need to grasp. The first is the public address, and the other is the private key. Note that all wallets, regardless of the type, incorporate both when storing crypto or facilitating transactions. To explain these concepts in a comprehensible manner, we will borrow bank terminologies that you would easily understand. A public address functions like a bank account number, which you can share with anyone to receive money. Just like sharing your account number is completely harmless, so also, letting other people access your public address does not compromise the safety of your cryptocurrency.
On the contrary, the private key is a sensitive long mix of characters that allows you to access or authorize crypto transactions. Think of the private key as the password protecting your bank cards or apps. You will agree that losing your bank password is detrimental to your funds, especially if it falls into the wrong hands. In the same way, you will lose access to your crypto if you either misplace your private keys or lose it to nefarious entities. However, unlike bank passwords, private keys are irretrievable. Hence, a compromised private key would automatically render the cryptocurrencies attached to it permanently inaccessible.
Once you set up a wallet, it will instantly generate a public address and private key. You should understand that a wallet does not directly store your cryptocurrency has commonly believed. Instead, what it does is store your private key, which is the only gateway to your crypto holding. It is the mode of storing private keys that determine the viability of a wallet and its categorization. Based on this assertion, there are two models for securing private keys. We have the hot storage and cold storage model. As you would expect, the two have their unique strengths and weaknesses, and we shall discuss them in the next section.
Hot Storage Wallets
The term hot storage refers to the act of keeping private keys on cloud servers or applications that have constant access to the internet. In this model, the wallet stores sensitive details on the user's computing device (that is, the smartphone or computer) or entrusts this information to third-parties with cloud infrastructures. In both scenarios, the private key is not completely caught off from the internet.
The obvious reason why a majority of crypto holders opt for this model is that hot storage wallets avail an almost instant means of authorizing crypto transactions. Users can easily send crypto with just a press of a button. However, being that this class of wallets store private keys on internet-enabled devices or infrastructures, they expose crypto holders to hacks and attacks. As such, the downside of this storage model has spurred many crypto practitioners to ensure that it is just a small fraction of their assets they keep on hot storage wallets. To store large amounts of cryptocurrencies, people tend to go for less susceptible offline storage wallets.
Simply put, an offline mode of storing cryptocurrency refers to the use of devices and methods that shield private keys from the dangers prowling the internet. By so doing, crypto holders have less to worry about, and they can manually connect their wallets to the internet whenever they want to send crypto. We have two types of wallets that obey this principle. The first is hardware wallets, which provide devices solely created to store private keys in a secure environment. You can access more information on this type of wallet in our review section that focuses on the top hardware wallet providers. The second variation of wallets incorporating the offline storage model is paper wallets.
What Are Paper Wallets?
Paper wallets allow users to physically store their private keys. Think of it as a platform that lets you print your password and keep it as you deem fit. Here, you get to generate a public address and a private key, and then print both out on a piece of paper. In most cases, these printouts come with QR codes, which you can simply scan when you wish to make payments or send crypto. Since paper wallets permit the permanent disconnection of private keys from the internet, they are suitable for individuals who are looking to hold crypto for a long time.
Nonetheless, some people remain skeptical of their viability, considering their safety depends on the ability of crypto holders to ensure that the printouts of the private keys do not fall into the wrong hands or damage. Owing to this perceived skepticism, we have decided to extensively discuss the apparent benefits and the risks of incorporating a crypto paper wallet.
The Benefits of Paper Wallets
The obvious reason why anyone would want to go for paper wallets is how it makes the failings of software or hardware crypto storage devices inconsequential to the safety of their crypto holdings. In other words, a cryptocurrency paper wallet evades the risks associated with other forms of wallets, especially as a result of compromised software or a damaged hardware device. Here, the user only has to ensure that a piece of paper does not fall into the wrong hands.
Also, since there are various ways that you could keep the printed private key, the chances of losing them to nefarious entities are slim. This notion, combined with the fact that your private key is offline, boosts the safety of your digital assets. You can create multiple copies of your key, fragment it and store each separately, and use various almost indestructible materials to ascertain that your private key is impervious to natural elements.
As such, paper wallets give you more autonomy over the security of your private keys than other classes or types of wallets.
The Downsides of Paper Wallets
The number one risk that comes with using a paper wallet is that you are at the mercy of your ability to secure your printed private key. The failure to ensure that the content of your printed wallet is hidden from unauthorized individuals puts you in a fix. Note that there are no third-party to pile the blame on and claim refunds from. Also, securely creating a key might require you to undergo a long and technical process, depending on your chosen paper wallet, to ensure that the generated keys are impervious to malware and viruses that might be on your computer or printer.
Also, there is the risk that the paper wallet platform might fall victim to a hack in the future, which could expose all of the private keys generated on it to nefarious entities. Likewise, it is advisable to create new private keys whenever you import your current one into an online wallet to facilitate transactions. While this is a given, setting up a new key every time you use the previous one is a daunting task that not a lot of people are willing to go through.
Then, you could permanently lose your holdings, peradventure there was a fire accident or if water pours on your printed paper wallet (especially if it was low-quality ink that you used to print it). However, you can circumvent this risk by opting to print your keys on indestructible materials.
What Are the Factors That You Should Consider When Choosing A Paper Wallet Platform?
Having explored all of the important details relating to paper wallets, this section will outline the integral factors that you should consider when looking to choose the best paper wallet for you.
The Ability of The Paper Wallet to Avail an Offline Environment for The Creation of Private Keys
For you to fully ascertain that your private key is safe, you ought to verify that there are no loopholes, which hackers can capitalize on right from the moment the key was generated. In other words, only create private keys in an offline environment that is beyond the reach of hackers. Hence, it is advisable to adopt paper wallet platforms that avail a private key generation procedure that does not entail internet connection. That said, you should also determine the length of the procedure and its level of complexity. By doing so, you can avoid unnecessarily complex paper wallets.
The Number of Cryptocurrencies That the Platform Supports
It is imperative to peruse the list of cryptocurrencies that a paper wallet supports before adopting it. If it is strictly an Ethereum and ERC-20 token paper wallet, then it is useless to a bitcoin holder. In this case, this participant should have the best bitcoin paper wallets on his or her radar. Better still, a multi-cryptocurrency paper wallet might do the trick.
The User Experience That the Platform Offers
Paper wallet platforms ought to incorporate the simplicity that depicts the concept of physically storing private keys when choosing their website design. As such, we expect these websites to go for simple and intuitive designs that will offer a premium user experience, even as they go about creating or printing private keys. The importance of this factor speaks volumes when you consider that a majority of paper wallets users are new entrants exploring the most efficient way of storing their digital assets.
The Security Measures Available on The Website
Security is one of the most vital factors that you should research before deciding on picking a paper wallet. Here, you should ask questions relating to the encryption protocol used to secure the private key. Also, we suggest that you verify that the paper wallet utilizes an algorithm that guarantees the randomness of the private key generated. Similarly, explore the security policy of the platform, what it says about privacy, and how it ensures that there are no records of activities of users. A paper wallet platform, which keeps a log of private keys generated on its site, is prone to hacks. Unfortunately, it is the users who would be the ones on the receiving end.
The Customer Support of The Platform
Like every other crypto service enabler, paper wallet providers must implement premium customer support systems that are accessible 24/7. The support system ought to cater to, and be aware of, the diversity of the platform’s customer base. In light of this, it is advisable to opt for paper wallet websites that offer customer support in your language and reply or resolve issues promptly. It is a plus if the platform provides various learning materials to help you scale the difficulties you might encounter when using its infrastructure.
Added Features of The Website
Although a majority of paper wallet websites stick to the private key generation features, some, on the other hand, take it up a notch by implementing various features and offers that would help users secure their private keys. In essence, we have paper wallets that offer unique malware-free devices solely for creating and printing crypto private keys. Also, some sell private key vaults or provide key maintenance services, like offering to print private keys on metals or other materials that are more durable than paper. Depending on how important these features are to you, you can ensure that the website you are considering offers different ways to create, print, and store your private keys before deciding to go for it.
How Did Cryptolinks Compile Its List of The Best Cryptocurrency Paper Wallets?
We have put together a list of the best paper wallet generators in the crypto landscape. Note that we featured all of the recommendations mentioned in this guide, while organically reviewing paper wallet platforms presently offering services to crypto practitioners. In the end, we found 5 platforms that exhibited top-performing qualities. Ensure that you read each review before making a concrete decision.