Electrum Wallet Review and In-Depth User Guide
Electrum was originally created in November of 2011 by founder, Thomas Voegtlin, as a multiplatform software wallet. Since then, multiple developers have worked on the source code, which is now protected under the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) software license.
The Electrum wallet can be used on Linux, Windows, and OSX computer operating systems, as well as Android mobile devices. Electrum only supports Bitcoin, but it is compatible with both the standard chain and the Segwit soft-fork.
In this Electrum Wallet Review, we’ll cover the following topics:
Electrum is extremely simple to use. The layout is straightforward and similar to many other basic, cryptocurrency-specific wallets. Users are only required to navigate through three tabs: wallet history, sending, and receiving. It’s about as basic as it could be, and borders on underwhelming.
Because it’s primarily a software wallet, Electrum requires users to download and install it on their computer. The wallet doesn’t have a huge file size, but the process limits the wallet’s accessibility to your main computer. This is in contrast to browser-based wallets like Blockchain.info, which can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection. Desktop wallets like Electrum trade this extra convenience for enhanced security, because desktop wallets keep your private keys on your computer rather than online. Users have the option to download the Electrum wallet application to Android mobile devices for increased portability.
Suggested Reading: The Best Bitcoin and Multi-currency Wallets.
Upon downloading the Electrum wallet, you’ll probably find yourself unpleasantly surprised by its appearance. Electrum is virtually indistinguishable from any other Windows File Explorer function on your computer. It looks exactly how you would imagine a minimalistic program from 2011 would look. . . maybe even worse.
The mobile application (not covered in this guide) is much more visually stimulating than the desktop software. It looks like a cross between the Jaxx and Mycelium wallet user interfaces, but contains absolutely none of their special features.
Speed and security are the only unique points of this wallet. Electrum is one of the quickest transactional Bitcoin wallets available for use because its servers are the same ones that index the Bitcoin blockchain. This gives Electrum near-instantaneous access to details of the chain. The servers are also redundant and decentralized, which means you will have guaranteed access to your wallet at all times. Once more people adopt SegWit, the speed of transactions will only increase.
Security is obviously a primary concern when selecting a software wallet, and Electrum comes with numerous security features. These features include a two-factor authentication partnership between Electrum and a third-party service called Trustedcoin, optional cold storage functionality for private keys, 12-word seeds, and local wallet passwords. There’s also a “Proof Checking” feature that always verifies transactions within your wallet’s history. Finally, the Electrum wallet is also compatible with popular hardware wallets like the Ledger Nano S and the Trezor.
Navigate to the Electrum website and select the white “Download” link on the grey bar at the top of the screen. You will see all of the installer options on the “Easy installation” section of the page. Choose whichever is appropriate for your device; this guide will be focusing on the “Windows Installer” (1). The differences between the various version setups are minimal.
Once you Once you have selected the “Windows Installer” link, your computer will inform you that you are opening an .exe file. Select “Save Download the file, then open the Electrum folder in your downloads.
Scroll through the file list in the Electrum folder until you see the application file titled “electrum-3.0.5” (depending on when you read this guide, you may have a later version). To begin the setup process, double-click the Electrum application file (1). This opens the Electrum Install Wizard. Ensure the “Auto connect” (2) bubble is darkened, then press “Next” (3) to proceed.
The Install Wizard now gives you the opportunity to name your wallet. You can type any name of your choosing into the empty field (1) atop this window. You can also choose (2) where your wallet will be saved in your computer’s directory. Press “Next” (3) to continue.
Electrum really reinforces the importance of security by lacing security features into the wallet’s setup. For this guide we chose to go with “Standard wallet” (1), which still allows for 12-word seed generation and a local password. Another, more secure option for you might be to set up the “Wallet with two-factor authentication”, if you so desire. Press “Next” (2) to move forward.
On the Keystore screen, choose the first option since this is a new wallet creation. By darkening the bubble next to “Create a new seed” (1), you will be given a randomly-generated 12-word seed for security purposes. Select “Next” to proceed.
While choosing your seed type, you are given the option between a “Standard” (1) wallet and a “Segwit” (2) wallet. Segwit is a soft fork of Bitcoin that changes wallet addresses. It will be utilized more and more frequently in the future for reasons beyond the scope of this article. For now, the “Standard” option is a more convenient choice. Press “Next” (3) to continue.
Here you are presented with a 12-word-seed (1) that will allow you to recover your wallet in case of computer failure. Write the seed on a piece of paper and store the paper in a secure location. You can opt to add more words to your key by selecting ‘Options’ under the QR icon (2).
Speaking of the QR icon, you will also be given a QR code (3), which can be viewed by selecting the QR icon (2) in the corner of the seed window. You can save your QR code by selecting “Save” (4) on the QR viewer window. From there, you’d want to print a copy of the QR code and then delete the file off of your computer. There is a friendly warning reminder (5) that tells you to never share your seed or store it electronically. Select “Next” (6) to proceed once you have recorded your seed and QR codes.
Confirm your seed in the entry field (1). On platforms with a QR scanner, you will have the option to scan your saved QR code (2), or you can upload your seed from a file (3). Once you enter your seed into the blank field, press the ‘Next’ (4) button.
To encrypt your wallet keys, input a secure password into the top field (1) and confirm it in the bottom field (2). Select ‘Next’ (3) to continue.
That concludes the download and setup portions of this step-by-step Electrum wallet guide. What follows is an overview of the important features of Electrum.
Once you load your Electrum wallet, you will be on the “History” (1) tab by default. This will provide you with proof-checked transactional details for your wallet address. You can quickly view the date, description, amount, and balance of each transaction from this screen.
Your overall wallet balance (2) is shown in mBTC (milli-Bitcoin = 0.001 BTC). Because of Bitcoin’s high rise in value on a per-coin basis, many platforms are using mBTC or even Satoshis (0.00000001 BTC) to measure BTC quantity on a more relatable scale.
The bottom right of your wallet shows the security measures (3) in place. This wallet depicts a lock for the password encryption, as well as a sapling sprouting from a seed that refers to your 12-word-seed. The green light is symbolic of network connectivity; because of the redundancy protocol and decentralization of Electrum, this should always remain green.
If you select the “Send” (0) tab next to the “History” tab, you will be able to view the necessary information to send Bitcoin to an outgoing address. The recipient’s address goes in the “Pay to” field (1), and depending on your device, that address can be entered via QR code or file upload (2). The “Description”(3) line is for your personal records and will only appear in your Electrum wallet’s history.
Enter the “Amount” (4) of Bitcoin you wish to send in terms of mBTC (do not forget to convert). If you want to send all of your wallet’s available Bitcoin, you can press the “Max” (5) button.
The fee slider (6) gives you the option to pay higher or lower network fees, which in turn affects the speed at which your transaction is confirmed. If you slide the blue switch all the way to the right, your transaction will be confirmed within the next completed block for a high fee. If you slide it all the way to the left, the transaction will be confirmed within 25 blocks for a very low fee. The middle position represents a nominal fee and a five-block confirmation time.
Press “Preview” (7) to double check your transactional information, then select “Send” (8) to complete your outgoing Bitcoin transaction.
In the “Receive” (0) tab, you can find your wallet address (1), as well as other necessary information to receive Bitcoin or request payment through Bitcoin. If you are sharing your wallet’s address, you can do so with the one-click copy button (2). The “Description” (4) field is not required and is only for your records.
The QR code (3) on this page is noteworthy because it changes based on your requested amount. Make sure to enter your requested amount of Bitcoin in terms of mBTC (5) before sharing your QR code.
You can also add in a request expiration timer with the drop-down menu (6). This is useful due to the constant price movement of Bitcoin relative to fiat currency. Once you’ve entered all of the necessary information, press the “Save” (7) button.
Electrum is a Bitcoin-only, multi-platform wallet that has been in use since 2011. Noteworthy features include its decentralized and redundant servers, its no-frills user-interface, and its fast transaction times. Electrum also offers a highly-customizable payment request feature that is ideal for retailers and service providers.
Electrum sports numerous security features to help keep your cryptocurrency safe. These features include a 12-word seed, an encryption password, optional two-factor authentication, as well as the option to store your private keys on an always-offline version of the wallet. Electrum interweaves these security options into the initial setup, which reduces the time it takes to get your wallet up and running.
This wallet is a very secure for a software wallet, fast, Bitcoin-specific, merchant-ready option for cryptocurrency transactions. It’s ugly, but sacrifices looks for speed and security. Overall, Electrum is a solid, straightforward option for anyone looking to make Bitcoin transactions.
- Supported Cryptocurrencies
- User Experience
I’m an American teacher, living and working in Korea, who developed a passion for cryptocurrency early last year. As a political and financial Libertarian, I find the concept of bankless, blockchain-based-commerce absolutely intoxicating. My goal is to help people SAFELY enter the world of crypto through education and non-biased writing.