It’s Time: Moving Bitcoin from Coinbase to Electrum

I’m sure you’ve heard the terms UASF, UAHF, and BIP148 tossed around in the past few weeks, but what’s really going on? and what does that mean for the average Bitcoin user? I would suggest checking out http://www.uasf.co/ for full details, but effectively on August 1st, 2017 we could see the Bitcoin blockchain split into multiple chains. If this happens your bitcoins need to be in a wallet that supports this type of behavior, such as Electrum. Otherwise, you become reliant upon your exchange to handle your coins, which many are anticipating on being disastrous.

If you’re like me and purchased your bitcoin from Coinbase, it’s time to move them to a more secure place in case of a chain split. I’ve chosen Electrum for several reasons: It’s been around since 2011, they provide many types of wallets, trusted by the community, etc.

Installing Electrum

My setup process with be using a Mac, but The Official Electrum site has versions for Linux, Windows, and Android too. Simply download and run the package that’s fits your needs.

Once downloaded and ran, select a name for your wallet. Electrum will then give you wallet options:

  • Standard Wallet – this is a basic wallet that you would imagine when thinking of a Bitcoin wallet. It’s connected to a network and ready to receive and send funds actively. It’s more convenient to move funds, but not necessarily the most secure.
  • Wallet with two-factor authentication – this wallet is the same as the Standard Wallet, except it relies on Google Authenticator on a smart phone to confirm any transactions.
  • Multi-signature wallet – this wallet is ideal for added security or several business use cases. It requires two machines to setup the software, so that signatures can be given from different places. If you’re storing bitcoin for long term, this would be effective. Also, if you start a business with a friend, this could come in handy because spending coins requires authentication from both parties.

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to create a simple Standard Wallet. After selecting it you’ll be prompted with the following screen:

If you’re wanting a new wallet on your local machine, select “Create a new seed.” If you have a wallet already, select “I already have a seed.”

Eletrum will generate a list of 12 words that are used as a ‘seed.’  It allows you to recover your wallet. Write this down and do not store it locally. This cannot be recovered, and someone with it can easily do malicious things. (That’s not actually my wallet seed).

You will then be asked to provide a password. This is the password you’ll be using every time you want to access your wallet. 

Moving Your Bitcoin

By now you should have your first Electrum wallet set up! The interface should look something like:

Press on the Receive tab, and you should see something like: at the very top of your application (feel free to send me some BTC). Copy this address to your clipboard.

Hop over to your Coinbase account (or wherever your bitcoins are located) and press on the  button. In the Recipient section of this page, paste the address you copied from Electrum. For Amount I suggest pressing the button, since you won’t want any BTC on an exchange. When you’re ready click on  and then press “Confirm.”

Depending on the Bitcoin network (which hasn’t been the most efficient as of late) your funds will arrive in your Electrum wallet! Best of luck and now you’ll be safe during a chain split!

2 comments:

    1. If you lose your private keys, then Bitcoins cannot be retrieved. They sit on the network and are associated with the address, but cannot be moved into another wallet. Basically once they’re lost, they’re gone.

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