Getting Started With Bitcoin
What you should know before starting
Like many things on the internet it is important to know what you are getting into and Bitcoins are no exception. There are a few key things that anyone who is thinking of getting into Bitcoining should be aware of.
Step 1 – Setting up your Bitcoin Wallet
A Bitcoin wallet is a collection of private keys and addresses that allow you to send and receive Bitcoins. It allows you to choose where you want to send Bitcoins and where to receive them. It is recommended that for every transaction you create a unique address, this helps to keep things organized. Other features of a Bitcoin wallet include overview of your transaction history, address book and a complete overview of your account.
Wallets come in different types: online, offline (cold storage) and paper wallets. For more details about the different wallet types, please consult our Bitcoin wallets page in our resources section. For beginners, we recommend downloading the Bitcoin-QT Wallet. If you prefer to not download the entire blockchain, we recommend Coinbase or Blockchain.
Step 2 – Sync your wallet to the network
Once you download and install a Bitcoin wallet, you will have to let your wallet sync to the Bitcoin network. This is a process that occurs automatically once you open your wallet.
If using the Bitcoin-QT wallet, this may take a while as the block chain represents the complete log of all transactions ever executed on the Bitcoin network. Once your wallet is synced, it only takes a few minutes each day to keep it up to date.
Step 3 – Secure your wallet
Securing your wallet is also an essential part of keeping your money safe. Your wallet should have a password to prevent any unauthorized withdrawals. It should be unique and comprised of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
You must ALWAYS remember this password as it is the only thing linking you to your money. If the password is lost, the money is lost. There are no recovery options and security questions with Bitcoins. A very important aspect of securing your Bitcoins is properly backing up your wallet. This can save you from unexpected computer crashes and human mistakes and is particularly recommended if you are plan on storing coins long term.
Step 4 – Load your wallet with Bitcoins
The final step is the most rewarding, filling your wallet with Bitcoins! There are two ways to do this, by mining Bitcoins (not recommended) or by buying Bitcoins on a Bitcoin exchange.