A popular ‘thin’ wallet client worthy of your attention
- Lightweight and easy to set up
- Recover your BTC using a wallet seed
- Relies on servers to verify transactions
Electrum has been around since 2011 and works with Windows, Mac and Linux. It's one of the most popular 'thin' wallet clients, in that instead of downloading the entire Bitcoin blockchain, it connects securely to other servers to verify your BTC balance and process payments. This means you can set it up in minutes and it takes up very little space on your hard drive.
Electrum uses a 'hierarchical deterministic wallet', in that when you first launch the program it generates a random 'seed' of 12 dictionary words, from which it derives the keys necessary to spend and receive BTC. Electrum displays the seed as you create your wallet and requires you to write it down. This means that if you lose access to this version of Electrum, you can easily reinstall it on another machine and use the seed to restore your BTC.
Unlike the Bitcoin Core client, Electrum offers you the option to encrypt your wallet file during setup, although you can choose to leave it unencrypted if you wish. You can also use Electrum in 'cold storage' mode to create a 'watching only' wallet. This allows you to receive Bitcoin payments and see your balance, but not spend the coins, which may be useful if you're buying BTC as a long-term investment.
As a 'thin’ client, Electrum relies on other servers for payment information, making it more vulnerable to certain types of hacking than 'full nodes' such as Bitcoin Core.