Although there are plenty of tutorials and websites that tell you how to get into Bitcoin, none of them warn you about some details that might make you think twice about the method you'll use to do this. Here I'll present you the two options you have with its advantages and drawbacks:
Option 1: Getting An Online Wallet
- You don't have to download anything; simply visit or create an account on a website.
- It's convenient, fast and easy.
- It doesn't consume your computer resources.
- You are not in control of your digital wallet. You must trust the website who manages it. A breach of security on the web could mean you lose your wallet with all its bitcoins.
- Online wallets don't usually allow you to send less than 0.01฿ to any other Bitcoin Address.
- Sometimes you have to pay small commissions every time you operate with your digital wallet from those sites.
If this option suits you, get your digital wallet from Coinbase, InstaWallet or MyWallet. I consider InstaWallet the best of the three for getting a first taste in how digital wallets work.
- You are in control of your digital wallet, since it's stored on your computer.
- You may send and receive as many bitcoins as you wish without paying commissions (transaction fees may apply though).
- You may have several bitcoin addresses to better organize payments on a single digital wallet.
- You'll need to download the Bitcoin Client, install it and wait for the program to synchronize with the network. The Client is only a few MB in size, but the data it downloads from the network (called the blockchain) is at this moment 6,63GB in size (and increasing every day). When I installed my Client it took six full days (yes, around 144 hours!) to get fully synchronized.
- The set up process is slow.
- It consumes quite a chunk of your computer's resources for being a single and simple application: over 6,65GB of memory, over 100MB of RAM and around 1% of your CPU time, with some sudden unexpected spikes.
If you prefer this option, download the Bitcoin Client here: Windows, Mac or Linux.
Next step: How To Join A Mining Pool
But first, let's get some free Bitcoins to see how our new wallet works: