Link to all my other Bitcoin Guides NOTE: If you decide this is too complicated for you; web wallets like coinbase have an offline storage option for bitcoins that is in all likelyhood probably a totally safe and viable option for general users. If you really can't understand this, I recommend simply using their cold storage option. submitted by
Here is my step-by-step guide on Bitcoin cold storage, or at least the method I use. I recommend starting by first reading my Cold Storage Concepts Guide
as otherwise you may not understand some of these steps. What we’re doing is actually very simple and straightforward, but unfortunately looks a lot more complicated than it is.
This guide is for anyone who has a large amount of bitcoins and wants to store them securely for a large amount of time, instead of relying on third party wallets like blockchain.info or coinbase.com who might be compromised down the line at some point.
Note that I use OSX and other apple devices so unfortunately this guide is biased for those using apple… please don’t flame me. Alternatives exist for everything I list here for both Windows and Linux, just post if you get stuck I’m sure someone will help you.
There are many approaches you can take to cold storage, and the methods you use will depend on the level of paranoia you have and the degree of security you need, but this method will work for around 99% of people.
I welcome any and all feedback, and I encourage anyone intending to use this to read comments below to get second opinions. YOU WILL NEED
- 5 normal 6-sided Dice (note: physical dice only! Do not use software!)
- A trustworthy electronic device capable of using bitaddress.org (I recommend using an non-jailbroken iPad or iPhone)
- Download a QR reader app
- A copy of the Diceware password generation list, either on paper or on a separate screen
- Pen/pencil and relatively strong paper.
- Disk Utility, or other software to create encrypted drives
- Dropbox account, Apple’s upcoming iCloud storage, or a relatively trustworthy long term network storage
- A physical long term storage location, preferably in or near your house.
Some notes on requirements:
We use 5 dice minimum as otherwise it will take you forever to generate passphrases, the better quality the dice and the more you have the quicker you can make passphrases.
I recommend using iPads or iPhones because to my knowledge they are more secure than android in terms of viruses/malware (someone in the comments will no doubt correct me on this though). Alternatively you can buy a cheap laptop and brand new hard drive.
On to generating the cold storage addresses! I’ve made extra notes at the bottom for more detail. COLD STORAGE METHOD
- Lock yourself in your room, gather your things and make sure no-one is going to disturb you.
- Get your dice and your diceware list. Roll 5 dice, look up the password and write it down. Repeat this at least 8 times to generate a passphrase for each cold storage address you want to make.
- Write these down on a piece of paper as clearly and neatly as you can.
- Take your iPad or other device and connect to the internet. Google ‘bitaddress’ and go to the top link (1).
- Once you have loaded the bitaddress website, disconnect from the internet.
- Click on the ‘brain wallet’ tab. (4)
- Carefully and checking it over three times, enter each of your 8 word or more diceware passphrases, and click ‘generate address’.
- Be careful that autocorrect didn’t change any of your diceware words
- Generate a further 4 or 5 word passphrase that will be used as your ‘Master Key’
- Take a screenshot of all of these addresses. On iOS devices this is easily done via the Home+Power buttons.
- Close the Bitaddress website on your device, purge your internet history, cookies, etc.
- On your laptop, disconnect from the internet and create an encrypted drive. Here’s how to do that in Disk Utility.
- Make sure this drive is password protected with your Master Key from step 8.
- Transfer screenshots of all of your cold storage addresses from your trusted device to the encrypted drive.
- Triple check this worked, then delete all screenshots from your trusted device.
- Use a QR reader to scan the PUBLIC addresses of all your cold storage addresses. Save these in your notes or email them to yourself (2)
- Unmount the encrypted drive. Take this drive and put it on your dropbox folder or other network hard drive.
- Reconnect to the internet on your computer and sync with dropbox or other service.
- Take your piece of paper with your diceware passphrases on it and store it somewhere securely (3)
- Go to your active bitcoin wallet, and send your bitcoins to cold storage. Congratulations, they are now secure.
Now a few things about what we did. We saved 2 copies of our cold storage private keys (the piece of paper, and the encrypted drive); this means if your whole house burns down then you still have a copy of your private keys in the cloud. If you forget your master key password, then you still have a physical copy in your house as a backup. We encrypted the drive so that anyone who gains access to your dropbox won’t be able to open it. You could even keep several copies of this encrypted drive spread over several locations and computers and it will still be safe. If anyone somehow finds your piece of paper, they will only see a list of random words and won’t necessarily know what it’s for (unless you leave detailed instructions or the word ‘bitcoin’ on it..!).
You also used diceware so your passphrases are completely random so no-one can guess them, and in fact are almost as strong as the cryptography in Bitcoin itself. Also, it was easier to write down 8 english words than a random sequence of 1-6's so there's less of a chance you wrote down your passphrases incorrectly.
To get your bitcoins out of cold storage, just scan the private key into your hot wallet, or re-generate the private keys from the diceware phrases you wrote down.
(1) this prevents you from mis-typing the address and getting a phishing page.
(2) We use a QR reader because this prevents writing the public keys down incorrectly.
(3) i.e. a safe, or inside a book in your library, on the back of a family picture that doesn’t get moved much. Spend some time thinking about how you want to approach this.
(4) You may have heard brain wallets aren't safe... this is not true. Only a non random
brainwallet is unsafe (like one made from song lyrics), but since we generated our passphrases with dice they are
random and the brainwallet is secure.
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