What Is a Cold Wallet?

BeginnerJan 09, 2023
A quick overview of what a Cold Wallet is, taking into account its different types and advantages
What Is a Cold Wallet?

A cold wallet is a wallet that is not connected to the internet and thus has a much lower risk of being compromised. These wallets are also known as offline wallets or as hardware wallets. Cold wallets are typically USB drive devices that securely store users’ private keys, and are the most secure method of storing Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. However, they generally necessitate a bit more knowledge to set up.

What Is a Cold Wallet?

A wallet is a type of storage that allows you to keep your cryptocurrency safe. The cold wallet, also known as offline wallet or hardware wallet, is one of the various types of wallets available, and one of the safest options for an investor.

Cold storage involves the generation and storage of private keys in an offline environment. Online environments are vulnerable to hackers, who actively attack online crypto addresses. Most platforms and brokers keep a significant portion of their cryptocurrency in cold wallets. Since hackers must have physical access to them, they cannot steal cryptocurrencies stored that way.

It also implies that not everyone has the ability to quickly remove all cryptocurrencies from a platform. It must first be retrieved from the cold wallet and transferred to the hot wallet by an employee. A hot wallet is the polar opposite of a cold wallet.

Types of Cold Wallets

There are several types of cold wallets. Below are some of the most common.

Hardware Wallet

Hardware wallets are physical devices that store your private keys and allow you to sign transactions offline, which makes them a secure option for storing large amounts of cryptocurrency. Hardware wallets typically have a number of security features to protect your private keys, such as the ability to create a secure PIN code and a recovery phrase that can be used to restore access to your funds if the device is lost or stolen.
Some popular hardware wallets include Trezor and Ledger Nano. The device looks and functions like a USB drive, that you need to connect it to a computer or mobile device using a USB cable. From there, you can use the wallet’s software interface to manage your cryptocurrency holdings and sign transactions. Hardware wallets are considered to be one of the most secure options for storing cryptocurrency, as they offer a good balance between convenience and security.

Paper wallets

Paper wallets are pieces of paper that contain your private and public keys, and can be used to store and transfer cryptocurrency. A QR code is typically printed on the paper wallet to make it simple to scan and sign transactions. It is important to keep the paper wallet secure, as anyone who has access to the private key will have access to the bitcoins stored on the paper wallet. You have to be very careful when handling a paper wallet, because if it gets lost or damaged, you will no longer be able to access your funds.
Some popular paper wallets include Walletgenerator and Bitaddress, which are open-source tools that allow users to create their own paper wallets.

Offline Software Wallet

Hardware wallets and software wallets are relatively similar, however the latter require more technical knowledge to utilize. The wallet is split into two accessible platforms: one offline that contains the private keys and one online that has the public keys stored. The user’s address is sent to the recipient or sender on the other end of the transaction along with any additional, unsigned transactions that are generated by the online wallet. A private key is used to sign the unsigned transaction before it is transferred to the offline wallet.
One of the most popular offline software wallets is Electrum, a wallet that is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It allows you to create multiple wallets, each with its own set of private keys.

What Are the Benefits of Having a Cold Wallet?

There are several benefits to using a cold wallet to store your cryptocurrency. Below are some of these.

  • Security: The primary advantage of a cold wallet is its high level of security, compared to a hot wallet (see our article). Because a cold wallet is offline and not connected to the internet, it is less vulnerable to hacking and other online threats. This makes it a good option for storing large amounts of cryptocurrency.

  • Control: Because there is no centralized entity involved, with a cold wallet you have complete control over your private keys, which means that you are the only one who can access your cryptocurrency. This can give you greater peace of mind and ensure that your funds are secure.

  • Long-term storage: Because a cold wallet offers a high level of security, it is well-suited for long-term storage of cryptocurrency. This can be especially useful for people who are holding cryptocurrency as an investment and want to ensure that it is safe and secure.

What Are the Drawbacks of Having a Cold Wallet?

On the other hand, there are a few potential drawbacks to using a cold wallet to store your cryptocurrency. Below are some of these.

  • Inconvenience: A cold wallet is not as convenient as a hot wallet for everyday use. Because a cold wallet is offline, you will need to have physical access to the device on which it is installed in order to access your cryptocurrency. This can make it less convenient for making frequent transactions.

  • Risk of loss: You might not be able to recover your cryptocurrency if you lose access to your cold wallet (for example, if you forget your password or misplace the device on which it is installed). Your private key should be kept in a safe place, with numerous copies made in case one is lost or damaged.

  • Limited functionality: Cold wallets typically have fewer features and functionality compared to hot wallets. For example, they may not have a built-in exchange or support as many cryptocurrencies.

About the last point: it must be said that, in recent years, these limitations are becoming increasingly thinner, as hardware wallet manufacturers are adding more and more features. In fact, some of these hardware wallets now support many cryptocurrencies, and have developed many connectivity tools that allow users to connect directly with DeFi chains and platforms.


Cold wallets, as previously stated, are the best option for properly securing your digital assets. A hacker cannot break into these storage wallets and steal the cryptocurrencies stored within because they are not connected to the internet.
A paper wallet is potentially the most secure way to store cryptocurrency offline, as long as its contents are kept secure and only you (or people you assign access to) have access to it. Although it is true that you must purchase a cold wallet, the cost compared to the risks of using a hot wallet represents excellent value for money.

Author: VictorK
Translator: shining
Reviewer(s): Mauro, Hugo, Joyce
* The information is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice or any other recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by Gate.io.
* This article may not be reproduced, transmitted or copied without referencing Gate.io. Contravention is an infringement of Copyright Act and may be subject to legal action.
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