Bitcoin Wallets: The Digital Wallet with no coins inside
Bitcoin wallets are software programs for storing the private keys that allow your Bitcoins to be spent (sometimes, the term ‘wallet’ refers to those collections of keys directly, rather than the software storing them). Wallets also generate your Bitcoin addresses, which are one-use transaction tokens that allow you to send funds.
Your transactions are all secured by an an electronic ledger called the blockchain. Wallets also use heavy encryption against hackers, making them safer than using a credit card at an ATM or shop.
You will almost certainly need more than one type of wallet, depending on your requirements, proficiency, and the amount of Bitcoin being stored. Safety is more important than accessibility for most people.
Desktop Application Wallets
These programs run on a single computer, sometimes from a USB drive, and are very secure. They take a while to synchronize with the Bitcoin Network, and they require a lot of hard drive memory.
Offline Wallets, a.k.a. Cold Storage
These USB devices are not connected to the Internet, so they are physically unhackable (if you keep them locked in a safe). They are the most secure, least convenient storage device, ideal for storing significant sums for long periods.
These are the most accessible, least secure wallets: your funds are in the care of a third party. They are useful for spending and trading relatively small sums.
Designed for mobile phones and tablets, these are ideal for paying in shops, or online, with the use of a QR code. Again, it’s best to keep small amounts in them.
Wallets aren’t the only ways to store Bitcoin. Some people invest in running their own network node to validate transactions, which is expensive, but ultimately it’s the most secure method that keeps your funds accessible.