If you compare cryptocurrencies with real life money, cryptocurrency wallets act as banks.
Also More: What are Wallets
Before we get into the best hardware wallets for storing cryptocurrencies, let us first take a quick look at what hardware wallets are and how they are good for cryptocurrencies:
The most basic thing that you need to know before going through this list of the best hardware wallets is what these hardware wallets are and how are they different from other cryptocurrency wallets:
Basically, hardware wallets are cryptocurrency wallets which are physical devices. While other cryptocurrency wallets exist online and store your details either on a third party server or your PC, these are specific hardware devices which ensure all your information is contained in them and it remains safe. We began this chapter by talking about how important safety is while choosing a bank. Considering wallets to be an equivalent of banks, hardware wallets are the most secure place for your cryptocurrencies.
As of this writing there haven’t been any cases of a hardware wallet being hacked or broken into. This is safe because in order to get access of your bitcoins, a user would need actual physical access to your wallet device. They are so secure that you can even make use of them on a hacked device and still be safe because your key is stored offline.
Hardware wallets come with different features and functionalities. The best modern day hardware wallets come with a digital display which shows you your portfolio and your transaction details. It is always recommended to go for hardware wallets that have a display. Hardware cryptocurrency wallets are especially useful if you are someone who would rather like to store currencies for a long run.
Easy to set-up and make use of. Hardware wallets can be used almost instantaneously and out of the box. They require a minimal amount of setup and can be used by users who aren’t so tech savvy. Sometimes web wallets and software wallets tend to be complex because of all the menus and setups and options that you’d need. Hardware wallets eliminate all that.
While hardware wallets seem to be the safest bet out there, you must keep in mind the following things -
Never lose your PIN or your Password. Basically, losing or forgetting your PIN or your Password would mean you’ve lost access to your cryptocurrencies stored in the hardware wallet.
Keep the wallets safe. Hardware wallets are safer than software wallets but you need to ensure you treat them like you’d treat every other electronic gadget. Keep them away from water, dust and heat, and ensure you don’t damage them. Also keep in mind that if your hardware wallet is misplaced or stolen, you risk losing all your Bitcoins
Finally, while many online wallets and software wallets tend to be free, hardware wallets need to be purchased for a price.
Let us now take a look at the best hardware wallets:
Hardware wallets began as Bitcoin-exclusives. However over the years as the altcoins began to emerge and boom, most modern day wallets now support multiple cryptocurrency support. Here’s a deeper look at some of the best hardware wallets:
One of the top names when it comes to the best hardware wallets, Ledger Nano S has been the mainstay in many features and listings for quite some time now. The wallet supports multiple currencies as well as multiple wallet addresses for each of these currencies. The currencies supported by the Ledger Nano S are: Bitcoin, Ethereum / Ethereum Classic, Ripple, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Zcash, Dash and Stratis.
Physically, it is a good looking device which resembles a USB Drive with a rotating hood. Under this rotating hood, the Ledger Nano S features a digital display. On top of the body of the device there are various controls which let you navigate through the information stored on your wallet. You can also see your wallet address and enter your PIN.
Setting up the Ledger Nano S is quite easy. All you need to do is to insert the device on to your PC, and then follow the instructions. There’s a basic sign up process, setting up of PIN and generation of a passphrase. The one thing that you must keep in mind is that always make sure you have saved your passphrase and kept multiple copies of it as this is the only way you’ll be able to regain access to your wallet in case it gets broken or stolen.
Security wise, the Ledger Nano S provides U2F authentication. For any transaction to be allowed, you’ll need to have the device plugged in to your PC. To authenticate transactions you’ll need to physically press buttons on the device, which makes it even more secure.
Another popular name when it comes to cryptocurrency wallets, TREZOR is a hardware wallet which is developed by Satoshi Labs, the same company which has also developed Slush Pool - which was the first bitcoin mining tool, as well as Coinmap - a worldwide bitcoin merchant directory.
The Czech language word TREZOR basically translates to ‘Vault’ in English. The device functions in a manner similar to the Ledger Nano S but comes with a slightly different look and feel. Unlike Ledger, which can almost be mistaken for a pendrive, the TREZOR hardware wallet looks a little different.
It comes with a display on top and buttons below it. Apart from the physical differences, there are other little differences too - unlike the Ledger Nano S where you need to click the buttons to sync, TREZOR has you fill a code which has to match on your PC as well as your Wallet - almost like a captcha.
Similar to the Ledger Nano S, you will need to do the initial setup and create a PIN code. You’ll also get a passphrase here which will help you regain access to your wallet in case your TREZOR device gets lost or breaks. TREZOR supports a number of currencies and frequently updates their wallet to add support for new currencies. At the moment it supports Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, ZCash, Dogecoin among others.
Also Read: Best Altcoin Exchanges & Platforms
Among one of the most expensive hardware wallets for storing cryptocurrencies, KeepKey is one which is meant for the experienced and advanced users. It offers a number of highly secure and complex functions but it isn’t as beginner friendly. The wallet has been around since 2015 and continues to be among the top three names when it comes to cryptocurrency wallets.
It is a slightly larger device which comes with a full metal body along with a big display on the front. Setting up the KeepKey hardware wallet is similar to how you’d set up the TREZOR or Ledger Nano S wallets. You’ll need to connect the device to a PC, go through the initial set-up, set a PIN, and finally generate a passphrase. However, the KeepKey wallet gives you the option to set a passphrase of 10,18 or 24 words. You can back it up by writing a recovery statement of 12 words.
This passphrase as well as your PIN will be encrypted and stored in the wallet. What makes this even more secure is that if someone tries to tamper with the software of your KeepKey wallet, it would self-destruct. You can later recover your wallet on another device with the help of your passphrase. This provides an additional level of security which ensures that the device is not vulnerable to hacks. All the transactions on the KeepKey hardware wallet are shown on the display of the wallet and have to be confirmed via the button on the device.
For now, KeepKey supports Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Dash, Namecoin among other currencies and they are working on adding support for more currencies.
Digital Bitbox has been called a ‘minimalist’ Bitcoin wallet. However that’s primarily due to the shape and size of the device. The features that it offers are quite diverse. Digital Bitbox also comes with a software client of it’s own.
When it comes to the looks, the device resembles a regular flash drive. It comes with a Micro SD card support for offline backup and recovery. Thanks to this SD card support you can quickly switch between wallets too. Moreover, the Digital Bitbox hardware wallet offers support not only for PC users but also for mobile users. It comes with Android and iOS apps as well.
It comes in a one piece device and does not offer a display owing to its small size. However, this minimalist wallet comes with a number of other features such as out-of-the-box multi-signature support, 2FA, Tor compatibility and U2F among others. The Digital Bitbox wallet is priced in at slightly lower rates compared to other hardware wallets.
OpenDime is not your traditional hardware wallet. Unlike other hardware wallets which are more storage oriented, OpenDime is a wallet which actually functions like money and can be passed around. OpenDime sticks come with a private key which is not revealed until the wallet is broken. It comes with a seal which needs to be snapped open following which the users will be able to access private key.txt
It can be plugged any time to check the amount that it carries but it can be spent only by unsealing it. Once unsealed the contents of the OpenDime hardware wallet need to be moved to another wallet - which can be of any form. It isn’t exactly a hardware wallet, but it contains monetary value and can be exchanged for transactions.