The best hardware wallet

From bestreviews.com
By
Anthony Marcusa
BestReviews

Hardware wallets are also known as cold storage.

Wallets house our important items: money, credit cards, identification, and maybe even pictures of loved ones. But when the vital contents you want to take with you aren't physical, you need something else handy and secure.

Hardware wallets are used to safely store a user's private cryptocurrency key -- an electronic, randomly created signature that allows access to virtual funds. Hardware wallets aren't really wallets, but instead resemble thumb drives. For those who transact in cryptocurrencies, disconnecting from the virtual world offers safety. Our guide helps simplify the complicated world of hardware wallets and offers some suggestions like our top pick, Trezor One, which offers first-rate security from a trusted brand.

Considerations when choosing hardware wallets

Benefits

By utilizing a hardware wallet, you're removing your important information from the online world, making sure it isn't susceptible to hackers or malware. A hardware wallet doesn't belong to a network, so it can't be accessed. A security code or PIN needs to be entered to access the information on a hardware wallet, which makes it useless if it's stolen. If lost, most have steps to regenerate your information in a new secure and convenient location. Some hardware wallets can work online as well and aid in transactions.

Risks

The way to hack a hardware wallet is to get to it before it gets to the consumer. As a result, hardware wallets should be bought by trusted sellers and companies to make sure they haven't been tampered with. Issues with software or hardware can lead to holes that could be exploited by dedicated hackers but gaining access to the information on a hardware wallet is an incredibly rare occurrence.

Cryptocurrencies

Not all hardware wallets are compatible with all cryptocurrencies. Some lesser-known currencies may not be available, so make sure the ones you use work with your hardware wallet.

Currency usage

Hardware wallets tend to be most useful for those who dabble in a lot of currencies, transactions, or large sums. If you only have a small amount of crypto, you may find taking your collection offline isn't necessarily beneficial.

Features

Recover and restore

Worried about what might happen if your device is lost or stolen? For peace of mind, when you first set up your hardware wallet you will have the chance to write down a code called a seed phrase, also known as a recovery seed or backup phrase. Keep this in a safe place offline so that you will be able to regain access to your funds on your replacement hardware wallet.

PIN protection

Those hardware wallets that require you to enter a PIN to gain access may provide you with advanced security features to deter potential prying eyes. This may include scrambled signals and unconventional input means, as well as distortion for those not directly using the wallet.

Two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is another added security feature, and it's a popular one among many other companies, servers, and online portals. Set up a second device, like a phone, to receive notifications about sign-ons and activity. This is useful for those who plan to work both online and offline with their cryptocurrencies.

Bluetooth connection

In lieu of or in addition to connecting your hardware wallet to a computer using a USB cord, some may give you the option of connecting via Bluetooth, which you can do by downloading an app to your tablet or smartphone. This offers more convenience while still keeping your information secure.

Price

Most hardware wallets cost between $50 and $100. These likely come from reputable, trusted companies and are compatible with most cryptocurrencies available. Be careful, as some companies may hope that their much higher prices imply advanced complexity and security, which isn't always the case.

FAQ

Q. How do I know my hardware wallet arrives safe and unused?

A. Security is of the utmost importance when using a hardware wallet. Always buy new and directly from reputable companies. When you receive your hardware wallet, make sure the package is still sealed.

Q. What's EAL?

A. Evaluation Assurance Level, or EAL, measures the testing a hardware wallet undergoes. Some companies may boast a high EAL, though that rating doesn't necessarily mean it's more secure than others. It just means it passed more specifically designed tests.

Hardware wallets we recommend

Best of the best: Trezor's One Bitcoin Wallet

Our take: A versatile, secure hardware wallet from a leading company.

What we like: Impressive security. Works as both a cold storage and hot wallet. Compact and lightweight.

What we dislike: Small screen and short USB cord create hassles.

Best bang for your buck: KeepKey's Simple Cryptocurrency Hardware Wallet

Our take: Easy-to-use hardware that supports most popular cryptocurrencies.

What we like: Ready to plug in and use on a computer. Small, durable, simple design. No operating system means advanced protection.

What we dislike: Requires Google Chrome browser.

Choice 3: Ledger's Nano S

Our take: Featured product from a trusted company, offers advanced security, two-factor authentication, and ease of use.

What we like: Information can be recovered and restored. Comes in a variety of colors.

What we dislike: Can only use four cryptocurrency wallets at a time.

Anthony Marcusa is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.