May 2018 update – While Bitcoin Armory development ceased by the original developers company, one of the original development team has taken it upon himself to continue supporting the wallet, although it’s still a little buggy and mainly organised via bitcointalk. You can get the latest version at https://btcarmory.com/ although please note it requires a full blockchain on bitcoin core, so expect several days of a download and installation to get it up and running. Only recommended for dedicated bitcoin fans who want to run a full node. Alternatively, look at our Bitcoin Trezor review for something a bit more user friendly.
Originally published December 2014
So the first thing that anyone will need when they start is a Bitcoin wallet, and I’ve tried a few in my time, especially at the start when I was figuring things out. After a bit of trial and error, I eventually settled on using the very good, and completely free, Bitcoin Armory software. I’m running on Windows 8.1, but they have versions for Ubuntu, Linux and Mac as well. They don’t offer a mobile wallet at this time, but I’ll talk about how I use it in conjunction with one further into the piece. From an Irish point of view, they did a presentation at the Bitcoin Finance conference in the RDS in 2014.
The Bitcoin Armory software is available from http://bitcoinarmory.com and is a few megabytes. You need to have the latest official bitcoin client installed, and it sits on top of it. Now one thing that needs to be noted right at the start, is that Bitcoin Armory will build a mirror of the Bitcoin blockchain, so it’s well over 40gb at this stage you’ll need that extra space, and then some, on your hard drive. After installing the software, it downloads a torrent of the blockchain, and then synchronises with the network. This can take several hours, so it’s best to do this in an evening running overnight, and then when you come back to it, you can use the software properly. Also, each time you’ve had the computer off for a few days, it can take a little bit of time to catch up before you can use it.
Screenshots of Step-by Step creation of paper backups in Bitcoin Armory
So Bitcoin Armory offers a bitcoin user pretty much everything they need. You can set up a Bitcoin wallet in the software, and then generate your encryption. You can print these off to make a paper/offline backup, as I’ve had personal experience where I had to reinstall my OS, and instead of me losing my bitcoins, I simply loaded my backup, and then was back up to speed within no time. With this wallet set up, it lets you set up as few or many addresses as you fancy. This means you can have different categories, especially if you want to separate your “personal” bitcoin holdings from your “work” holdings. You can also password protect the sending of bitcoin, giving you a good strong secure way to own and control your bitcoin.
I use the software personally in the way where for each person I’m dealing with, I click “receive bitcoin” and generate a new address, and tag this for a particular person, company or mining pool I’m sending or receiving bitcoin to. This lets me really easily keep track of what’s going where as the tagging lets you filter transactions relatively easily. Also, if you need these logs for financial accounting, it’ll gives you an audit trail if you need it later on.
Now even though it doesn’t have a mobile wallet, because it incorporates QR codes, you can use your mobile wallet for “pocket money”. Before you go out, send what you want onto your mobile wallet, knowing that the rest is safe from inadvertent expenditure ;p
So in summary, I’ve found Bitcoin Armory to be a great desktop wallet, whether you’re a hobbyist or someone looking for a solution to help them account for a bitcoin accepting business. Highly recommended, and free!
Bitcoin Armory Review
Bitcoin Armory is slow to get started with, but once you do, you have one of the most comprehensive and secure desktop bitcoin wallets around. Full control over sending and receiving bitcoin, really strong security, and paper backups to help you avoid having a complete loss in the event of hard drive failure. Simply reinstall on a new machine, load your backup, get it up to synch and carry on. And all completely free. What more can you ask for?