In my previous article you could read about theforks in Bitcoin. I advised to keep your Bitcoin in-house and not on a website or service that does it for you. Because you do not know whether that service will support both branches after the fork. One of the methods to store Bitcoin in-house is the paper wallet.

The paper wallet is not the easiest way to keep “BTC”, but a decent one. It takes time to make them and that is why they are most suitable if you hold your Bitcoin for the long term.

The idea is that you make a wallet of which the secret key never comes into contact with the internet (until the moment you spend the money). It is called ‘Cold storage’.

Necessities

Some computer skills, a 2 Gb USB stick, your Windows computer ,and an old computer that you use the stick on, the internet, and a printer. If you are doing this for the first time, assume it will take you a couple of hours. It mainly depends on your computer skills.

Proceed as follows

Read through the steps first to see if this is for you.

  1. Go to this Ubuntu tutorial and follow the instructions to create an Ubuntu USB stick. Here, these steps are summarized in steps 2, 3, and 4.
  2. You download the latest stable ISO version of Ubuntu from here. (32 or 64-bit version, depending on your computer. You can see what your computer is in Windows, in My Computer.)
  3. You also download a software package “Rufus” with which you can make USB sticks from which you can boot. (This app does not always work right away, I had to put two more files in there to make it work).
  4. Make the USB stick according to the instructions.
    –>You now have a fully-fledged “computer-in-a-USB-stick”.
  5. Start the computer in the Bios. Insert the USB media first in the boot sequence.
  6. Restart the computer with the USB stick inserted.
    –> Ubuntu will boot.
  7. Choose to try Ubuntu from USB stick – Do not install it.
    –> After some time you will reach the Ubuntu desktop.
  8. Have Ubuntu search for your printer and install the simplest driver. These are most likely on the stick. (So you do not have to go on the internet for them).
  9. Connect to the internet.
  10. Open the Firefox browser, go to the website www.bitaddress.org and wait until the page is fully loaded. Do not turn off the browser.
  11. Do not do anything else with this computer. You absolutely do want to get a virus or anything else that will hurt the process.
  12. Disconnect the internet. Disconnect ethernet cables and switch off Wi-Fi. Double check this by calling up a random internet page in a second tab.
  13. Now move your mouse in the bitaddress page until you have generated enough randomness to generate unpredictable wallets.
    –> You arrive at a screen where you can create different types of paper wallets.
  14. For example, click on the second tab Paper wallet, check Hide art, generate 7. Seven wallets fit nicely on one A4 sheet.
    –> The Private keys that you see on the right are the key to your money. So do not take a photo of it. Because if you do that with your cell phone, there is already a connection to the internet! If you are hacked, your money can still be stolen.
    –> you can choose to secure your wallet with BIP38. If so, you enter a password. But beware: You must store this password very well! If you lose it then there is nothing and no one in the universe that can help you to get your money.
  15. Click on the button print and print the wallets.
  16. If need be, print them twice, so that you can keep a copy at another (reliable) physical address. The chances are very small that a disaster will occur at both locations simultaneously. You can also laminate the paper for extra strength. In case of fire, there is more often (extinguishing) water damage than fire damage.
  17. So now you have your paper wallet. All that is left to do it destroy your USB-computer. Insert the USB stick into your usual computer, which is also virus free of course, and immediately format the stick.
  18. Search the internet on how to clear the cache of your printer. Usually, it is sufficient to completely disconnect the power for 1 minute.
  19. You fill your wallets by sending Bitcoin to the public Bitcoinaddress.
    – >You can enter your public address on a Bitcoin-Blockchain explorer to see whether the content has indeed arrived and confirmed.

Keep in mind that when you empty your wallet, you empty the wallet completely. You cannot empty it in stages. Also, keep in mind that you should not reuse a paper wallet. And, if, for example, you send €1,000 to your paper wallet, it is now worth €1,000. But think hard about how you would feel if, in 2 years, it is worth € 11.527,-. Maybe it is better to do 5 x €200 in 5 wallets.

Good luck!