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What is Bitcoin Core and how to use it?

Bitcoin Core is comprehensive software used to mine, maintain the bitcoin network, send, receive, and store bitcoins. Today there are many other wallets, but in 2009, when bitcoin first appeared, the Bitcoin Core wallet was the only one.

Bitcoin Core comes with open source code and is developed by enthusiasts. People from all over the world can make suggestions for improvement (BIP) on the official website of the bitcoin wallet. Over time, the best solutions turn into reality.

Main feature

The free bitcoin wallet Bitcoin Core is a fully functional node. This means that it helps the bitcoin network confirm and retransmit transactions. This keeps the Bitcoin network stable, as all blocks and transactions are checked for errors to eliminate double-spending.

However, the same feature causes the wallet to require more than 350 GB of hard disk space and an unlimited Internet connection, as all blocks since 2009 will be downloaded and checked. This is to ensure the overall security of the blockchain and protect users from non-existent transactions or fake nodes. Warning! Downloading and verifying a full copy of the entire blockchain will take a really long time (several days to half a month, depending on the computer performance and Internet connection speed).

The volume of any blockchain is growing all the time, and you can see the current information about its size on this page. You will need about 350 GB of free space to download the blockchain. During installation, you can select a mode in which only the latest blocks of the blockchain will be saved on your hard drive. Then the size of the base will be 3-5 GB.

Basic Functions

Bitcoin Core is a non-custodial wallet. This means that it gives the user full control over the cryptocurrency assets and private keys. However, managing such a wallet requires a lot of responsibility.

Any personal bitcoin wallet with large amounts on it must be securely protected. If a fraudster gains access to the user's computer, they will be able to withdraw funds from the wallet without the user's knowledge.

Bitcoin Core provides great opportunities for such protection:

  • Setting a password to access private keys.
  • The ability to additionally encrypt the wallet (another password to launch the application).
  • Creating a seed phrase. It will help to restore access if passwords are lost or the computer is damaged.

A seed phrase includes 12 or 24 words. All available public and private keys are encrypted in them. This is a kind of master key that opens access to cryptocurrency on any computer and in another wallet with the BIP32 seed-phrase format (for example, JAXX or Electrum).

The verified bitcoin wallet Bitcoin Core is not only designed to ensure the security of users' funds but also allows you to easily send and receive cryptocurrency through your own address. Thanks to the new features introduced in the wallet with full support for Segregated Witness (SegWit), transactions can be carried out faster and with lower fees. The personal bitcoin wallet gives the user the opportunity to set any fee when sending bitcoins and automatically prompts the optimal fee depending on the target confirmation time. You can read more about this in the article on bitcoin confirmations.

This software supports the RBF (Opt-in Replace-by-Fee) function. If a transaction is not confirmed for a long time, you can resend it for a higher fee.

Since the 17th release, the Bitcoin Core wallet can be used in watch-only mode. Users have the opportunity to receive bitcoins and monitor the balance without storing private keys on the computer. At the same time, keys can be stored securely in a hardware wallet or as a seed phrase on any external storage medium.

Installation process

Before downloading the Bitcoin Core Bitcoin wallet, we recommend checking that there is enough free space on your hard drive, and the Internet channel will allow you to download about 350 GB at a good speed. After downloading, you can support the Bitcoin network, leaving your PC turned on with Bitcoin Core running and port 8333 open.

Step 1: Go to the official Bitcoin Core download site: and select Bitcoin Core under the “Resources” tab:

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Installation process: choosing a wallet

Step 2: Click on the “Download Bitcoin Core” button or select from the list of OS:

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Installation process: download button

Step 3: Run the downloaded file, select the installation path in the window:

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Installation process: initialization window

The first time you run the program, the synchronization process will begin. It is desirable not to turn off the computer. If the PC still needs to shut down, you should first close the program window and wait until the next window disappears:

After turning on the computer, it is enough to start Bitcoin Core again and synchronization will continue automatically.

If you don't want to store the whole blockchain on your hard drive, you can limit the size of the database. You can do this without waiting for the end of the synchronization process. To do this, close the synchronization window (the synchronization process will continue). Then, through the Settings -> Options menu, open the program options and set the desired size. Note that this setting will not affect the synchronization speed. In any case, the program will upload and check all the previously extracted blocks.

Using the wallet

After completing the synchronization and logging into the bitcoin wallet, the Bitcoin Core interface will be available, which looks like this:

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The Bitcoin Core wallet interface

The main window has 4 tabs:

  1. Overview. This displays the most important information relating to the created wallet. On the left, you can see how many bitcoins are on the account, how many of them are currently being transferred to the wallet, and how many transactions are being made. On the right, there is information about recent transactions, including the sender or recipient addresses associated with each transaction.
  2. Send. This tab allows you to generate and send a transaction. When sending coins, you should carefully check the address to which the funds are being sent. Funds mistakenly sent to the wrong addresses will not be refundable.
  3. Receive. This displays the address you need to receive transactions from other users. A new address can be generated for each incoming payment. This increases the level of anonymity.
  4. Transactions. The panel displays all transactions in the blockchain.

Despite its apparent simplicity, the interface can be difficult for an inexperienced user.

Conclusion

Although it takes a lot of time and disk space to install the wallet, Bitcoin Core provides maximum control over transactions, addresses, and private keys.

As a wallet, Bitcoin Core is more suitable for storing cryptocurrencies and long-term investments. If you need a wallet for quick payments, you should consider lightweight wallets (without downloading a node), mobile options, or exchanges.