Cybersecurity experts recommend storing part of their bitcoin savings on external media to avoid stealing money in the event of a hacker attack. One of the most popular and reliable methods of storage is the use of bitcoin flash drives.
But how to download Bitcoin on a flash drive? What are the advantages and disadvantages of cold storage cryptocurrency using USB-carriers? And what other cold ways to store electronic currencies exist? Below we will look at these issues in detail.
What is a bitcoin flash drive?
Cybersecurity experts distinguish between two ways of storing bitcoins:
- Hot method. In this case, Bitcoin money is stored on computers connected to the global Internet network. The owner of a hot wallet can at any time use the money at its discretion (for example, transfer money, pay for their purchases, and so on).
- Cold method. In this situation, the money is stored on special media that do not have access to the Internet. As storage media for storing cold bitcoin wallets, flash drives, hard drives, and even plain paper can be used. At the same time, the owner of such a Bitcoin wallet cannot directly manage his money, and to perform any operations he must connect the offline Bitcoin wallet on the USB flash drive to the global network (that is, he must “make” it hot).
The most popular example of a cold wallet is a bitcoin flash drive. The essence of this method is that the owner of a hot wallet transfers all money from physical media (which is connected to the network) to a portable USB flash drive (which, after being removed from the computer, loses access to the network).
How to store bitcoins on a flash drive? There are no rules here – you can store such money anywhere any amount of time, and to restore access you just need to insеrt a USB flash drive into your computer and synchronize your wallet with money on a USB flash drive.
Advantages and disadvantages of bitcoin flash drives
Bitcoin flash drives have many advantages. The main advantage is that the money will be stored on a portable device that does not work independently and does not have access to the network. Therefore, such a bitcoin flash drive cannot be cracked, it cannot be infected with viruses after being removed from the computer, and so on.
Another advantage is the compactness and mobility – the USB flash drive is small and you can always carry it yourself, and if necessary (for example, to pay for an online purchase) you can always insеrt a bitcoin USB flash drive into your computer to make all the necessary operations.
However, we must not forget that bitcoin flash drives also have disadvantages:
- The probability of mechanical failure. A flash drive can easily carry light mechanical shocks, but in the case of a serious blow, it can deform and even break – and you lose all your money.
- Inconvenient transactions. To perform any operations, you will not only have to insеrt a bitcoin USB flash drive into your computer, but also to go through synchronization, which complicates the work with money and increases the time for conducting transactions.
- The possibility of virus infection. If you insеrt a USB flash drive into someone else’s infected computer, then viruses are likely to penetrate your flash drive, which reduces the security and reliability of all subsequent operations.
How to transfer Bitcoins to a USB flash drive
So, now let’s learn how to transfer a Bitcoin wallet to a USB flash drive. To transfer, we need two tools – a portable USB flash drive itself and a program for working with wallets. As a USB stick, any USB drive that is compatible with the USB 2.0 protocol and at least 8 GB in size is suitable. Any wallet program that allows you to store Bitcoins in a cold mode can be used as a program. The main such programs are Electrum, Bitcoin Core and others.
Below we will look at how to install a bitcoin wallet on a flash drive using the Electrum program:
1. Download the Electrum program, install it and configure it using the standard algorithm, and then replenish the bitcoin wallet.
2. insеrt your USB flash drive into the USB connector on the computer and format it (the optimal file system is NTFS).
3. Locate the Program Files folder on your computer (usually located on drive C).
4. Find the folder with the installed program Electrum and copy it to the bitcoin flash drive.
5. Find the wallets service folder where your bitcoin money is actually stored. Usually this folder is located at C: UsersAdminAppDataRoamingElectrumwallets.
6. Open the wallets folder and find there a file called wallet.dat or default_wallet.dat – this is the file where your bitcoins are stored.
7. Create a folder with the name wallets on a bitcoin flash drive and copy the file wallet.dat or default_wallet.dat there.
8. On a bitcoin flash drive, open the folder with the Electrum program and find the executable program file. It is usually called electrum-2.9.0.exe, where the numbers 2.9.0 indicate the version of the program (that is, in the case of a later version of the program, the numbers may be different).
9. Right-click on the Electrum executable file and sеlect “Create Shortcut”. Move the copy of the shortcut to your desktop for convenience.
10. Launch a shortcut – you will see a menu to synchronize the program with the wallet. Click the “sеlect …” button and find the wallet.dat or default_wallet.dat on your bitcoin flash drive.
11. Enter your wallet password and click “Next.” Wait for the sync to complete. At the end, remove the bitcoin flash drive from the computer – the cold bitcoin wallet on the flash drive is ready.
12. To activate a bitcoin flash drive, insеrt the device into the USB connector of the computer and run the Electrum program via a shortcut or electrum-2.9.0.exe file.
Alternative cold wallets
There are some other types of cold wallets besides bitcoin flash drives:
- Paper Wallet. Bitcoins using special online services (for example, bitaddress.org) are converted into text files, which can then be printed for external storage. The text file contains a special QR code, which actually plays the role of a wallet, and to transfer a paper obligation back to bitcoins, you must scan the QR code.
- Bitcoin coins. A private person or company issues special metal coins with a QR code for sale, and anyone can buy such coins. Coins are used to store bitcoins, and if necessary, you need to scan a QR code to perform any operations with coins (transfer, payment, and so on).
- Storage on a computer that is not connected to the Internet. This method is almost identical to bitcoin flash drives, with the only difference being that in this case, the storage device is not a USB drive, but a hard disk with an installed operating system. To perform any operations, you need to either connect the computer to the Internet, or transfer the wallet to another computer.
If you have large Bitcoin savings, then cybersecurity experts recommend storing them at once with the help of several wallets:
- Part of bitcoins leave on the original hot wallet, which is connected to the Internet.
- Transfer some of the money to a bitcoin flash drive for cold storage.
- Transfer the remaining bitcoins to paper bonds or metal coins.
Now you know about whether Bitcoin can be stored on a USB flash drive and how to write Bitcoin on a USB flash drive.
Let’s sum up. Any owner of cryptocurrency can store money on external USB-carriers. To do this, you need to insеrt the USB flash drive into your computer, copy the wallet and control program there, and then you need to synchronize. In the end, you need to get a bitcoin flash drive from a computer, and you can store such a USB drive anywhere for an unlimited amount of time. This method of storage allows you to eliminate the possibility of hacking and unauthorized access, but you need to remember that the flash drive is vulnerable to mechanical damage, so you need to keep it carefully.