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Crypto Wallets: Types, Security, and Best Practices

Crypto Wallets Bitcoin Ethereum Blockchain
By Nicolo Finazzi
Nicolo Finazzi

5 Min

October 10, 2023

Crypto wallets are your gateway to the world of cryptocurrencies. Whether you're a seasoned investor or just entering the crypto space, understanding the types of wallets, how to secure them, and best practices is essential. In this article, we'll provide a comprehensive guide to crypto wallets, ensuring that you can manage your digital assets with confidence.

Understanding Crypto Wallets

First of all, to delve deeper into the world of wallets, it's important to understand the distinction between custodial and non-custodial wallets.

  • Custodial Wallets: Custodial wallets are managed by third-party services or exchanges. In this setup, the service provider controls your private keys and, consequently, your funds. While this offers ease of use and often integrates well with trading platforms, it means entrusting the security of your assets to the provider. Notable exchanges often provide custodial wallets for users.
  • Non-Custodial Wallets: On the other hand, non-custodial wallets give you full control over your private keys and funds. These are wallets where you are the sole custodian of your cryptocurrency. While they require more responsibility in terms of security and backup, they offer enhanced control, privacy, and security. Examples include hardware wallets, software wallets, and mobile wallets.

Your choice between custodial and non-custodial wallets depends on your preferences regarding control, security, and convenience. If you prioritize control and security, a non-custodial wallet is the way to go. For those who prefer ease of use and seamless integration with exchanges, a custodial wallet might suit better.

Types of Crypto Wallets

More in details, wallets can be separated into different categories:

  1. Hardware Wallets:
    • Physical devices that store your cryptocurrencies offline.
    • Highly secure as they are not connected to the internet.
    • Examples: Ledger Nano S, Trezor.
  2. Software Wallets:
    • Applications or software programs that run on your computer or smartphone.
    • Convenient for daily transactions but may be vulnerable to malware.
    • Examples: Exodus, Electrum.
  3. Web Wallets:
    • Wallets hosted on a website or web-based platform.
    • Easy to access but potentially less secure as they are online.
    • Examples: Coinbase, Binance.
  4. Paper Wallets:
    • Physical documents containing your public and private keys.
    • Extremely secure as they are offline but can be easily lost or damaged.
    • Created using various tools.

Wallet Security

In order to secure your crypto wallets, there are many different measures you can enforce:

  1. Private Keys:
    • The most critical aspect of wallet security.
    • Never share your private keys with anyone.
    • Store them in a secure, offline location.
  2. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):
    • Enable 2FA for added security, especially for online wallets.
    • Requires a one-time code in addition to your password.
  3. Regular Updates:
    • Keep your wallet software up to date.
    • Updates often include security patches.
  4. Beware of Phishing:
    • Be cautious of phishing websites or emails trying to steal your credentials.
    • Always verify the website's URL before entering sensitive information.

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Best Practices

In the crypto space, we are accustomed to news about attempts to steal from wallets or online attacks more in general. At Lab51, we want to make sure you can get some useful insights on how to protect your assets.

  1. Diversify Your Holdings:
    • Avoid keeping all your cryptocurrencies in a single wallet.
    • Diversify across different wallet types for added security.
  2. Backup Your Wallet:
    • Regularly backup your wallet's data, including private keys.
    • Store backups in secure, offline locations.
  3. Stay Informed:
    • Keep yourself updated on the latest crypto security threats and best practices.
    • Join online communities and forums to stay informed.
  4. Test with Small Amounts:
    • When using a new wallet or service, start with a small amount of cryptocurrency to ensure everything works as expected.

Recovery and Lost Wallets

In the event that you lose access to your wallet, be it a hardware wallet or any other type, having a backup plan is crucial. Some wallets provide a valuable feature known as seed phrases, which are essentially a series of words acting as a backup for your wallet. Just like your private keys, these seed phrases must be safeguarded diligently.

Seed Phrases:

A seed phrase, also known as a recovery phrase or mnemonic phrase, is a sequence of words generated by your wallet. It is vital to write down and securely store this seed phrase. In case your wallet is lost, damaged, or you need to restore it on another device, this seed phrase serves as a key to recover your cryptocurrency holdings and transaction history.

Remember, treat your seed phrase with the same level of caution as your private keys. Never share it with anyone, and store it in a safe and secure location, preferably offline.

Lost Wallets:

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of losing access to your wallet, all hope is not lost, especially if you have backed up your seed phrase. Even if it's a hardware wallet that's gone missing, your funds can still be recovered.

Retrieve your seed phrase and use it to restore your wallet on a new device. Most reputable wallets offer easy ways to import your seed phrase and regain access to your funds. Additionally, if you encounter difficulties during this process, seek assistance from customer support of the wallet provider or engage with the helpful crypto community in online forums. Often, others who have experienced similar situations can provide valuable guidance and support to help you reclaim control of your assets.


Crypto wallets are the cornerstone of your cryptocurrency journey, and understanding their types, security measures, and best practices is vital. By choosing the right wallet type, securing your private keys, and staying informed about security threats, you can safeguard your digital assets and navigate the exciting world of cryptocurrencies with confidence.

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