Because bitcoin wallets and balances are little more than a few lines of code, it is often desired to move the wallet offline into paper form. Generally speaking, it is not a difficult process.
The way bitcoin transactions work, funds are sent to a specific address that signifies the wallet of the payee. People can possess multiple wallet addresses, which can be quickly generated at no cost, and this is often preferential for security and privacy reasons. Services such as bitaddress.org allow users to generate new wallet addresses and then help users encrypt and print paper versions of the necessary information to keep their bitcoin balances offline for cold storage in physical form. Extensive tutorials on how to do this exist online in forums and videos. Some people like this option because it removes any chance of their wallet being hacked.
The code that Bitaddress uses is open source, can be downloaded for free, and can be run by a computer operating offline. If a user loads a clean new install of an operating system on a partition of their hard drive, while offline, and runs the code for Bitaddress from a USB stick, the addresses for viable bitcoin wallets and their corresponding personal keys can be generated and printed off with no risk of discovery by hackers. Laminating or sealing the paper wallet can be done to ensure that the code will be legible for years to come.
Funds can then be sent to the wallet using the address that was generated, using online exchanges. Because the personal key that unlocks the wallet and allows funds to flow out of it was never exposed to the online world, this wallet is an extremely secure, if slightly paranoid, way to hold a bitcoin balance. The way bitcoin code and blockchain technology work the address and keys can be used online whenever the holder of the bitcoins finally decides to make use of them, the same as digital hardware wallets.
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