How to Put Crypto on a USB
Now that you can officially do everything from buying a burger to paying a phone bill with cryptocurrency, it's pretty reasonable to say that crypto is here to stay. And as crypto moves increasingly into the mainstream, people are looking for convenient ways to keep their coins secure while also making them easy to access if needed.
USB flash drives are an easy and cost-effective way to store cryptocurrency wallets. In this guide, we'll talk about important concepts like what a cold wallet is and why some crypto holders back up their cold wallets on USB flash drives. We'll even give you some tips on how to put crypto on a USB drive yourself!
What Is a Cold Wallet, and Why Should You Have One?
Private crypto keys are the only way to prove ownership of crypto. But if you're storing your crypto keys in a "hot" internet-connected wallet, you might be leaving them vulnerable to cybercriminals. Cryptocurrency thieves make off with billions a year, and it's often tough to recover crypto after it's been stolen.
That's why many crypto experts advise people who own a lot of crypto to only store a small number of crypto keys in a hot wallet at any time. Think of a hot wallet like an actual wallet -- you wouldn't keep your whole savings account in cash there! The rest should be in a cold wallet, also called a hardware wallet, where your private crypto keys are stored offline.
Because a cold wallet isn't connected to the internet, hackers have no way to access the crypto that's inside. Only someone with physical access to the cold wallet can use the crypto keys inside it, and a good cold wallet should also be protected by additional security layers like encryption and two-factor authentication.
Types of Cold Wallets for Crypto
Dedicated hardware wallets are one option for a crypto cold wallet. These specialized wallets come in all shapes and sizes, and most come with apps that let you easily move crypto in and out of the wallet. However, dedicated hardware wallets are expensive -- most cost anywhere from $50 to $200.
Paper wallets are another type of crypto cold wallet that's less convenient, but extremely secure if done correctly. To create a paper wallet, you'll actually print out your crypto keys on physical pieces of paper, using an offline printer, and keep them in a secure location. (This option is also great if you appreciate the irony of storing futuristic digital currency on normal paper.)
Then, there are USB flash drives. A lot of us use flash drives every day in our lives, and most people at least know the basics of how they work. As it turns out, they're also an efficient and affordable way to store cryptocurrency.
Should You Store Your Cold Wallet on a USB Flash Drive?
USB flash drives have several advantages for storing cold wallets:
- Cost: USB flash drives are far more affordable than most hardware cold wallets. Bulk USB drives are an especially cost-effective option that can also come in handy for many uses besides crypto.
- Reliability: A flash drive uses reliable solid state flash memory to store your wallet. While flash drives aren't invincible, they're tough enough to survive most everyday mishaps.
- Availability: USB flash drives are easily available when and where you need them. Order through USB Memory Direct, and you'll even have the option of ultra-fast rush delivery for your USB drives.
- Flexibility: A USB flash drive is a blank canvas that (for the most part) allows you to install whatever wallet, OS, and/or encryption software you choose.
However, there are also a few important caveats to be aware of:
- A USB flash drive isn't the best choice for a primary, long-term cold wallet. Other cold wallet solutions (particularly dedicated hardware wallets) are more durable and secure.
- USB flash drives have a write cycle limit that can cause them to eventually go bad if used repeatedly over a long time period.
As long as you're aware of these limitations, a USB flash drive can be a great choice for flexible and affordable crypto storage.
Keeping Your Crypto Secure on a USB Flash Drive
It's critical to always keep the fundamentals of cryptocurrency security in mind when you're creating backup crypto wallets on USB drives. These are some essentials to remember:
- A cold wallet is only good as long as it stays cold. When connecting your USB wallet to your computer to move crypto in and out, make sure that you disconnect your internet connection first.
- Don't use the USB drive that contains your wallet for anything other than the wallet.
- Keep apps like your crypto wallet and OS updated with the latest security patches.
- You should always have multiple backups of your crypto keys and wallets. Keep these physical backups in different locations. Incidentally, this is another great reason to use USB drives -- it's extremely affordable to create multiple backups.
- Don't reuse passwords (in your wallet or anywhere else), and use a secure, encrypted password manager to keep all of your passwords safe and organized.
- Never plug your USB wallet into a public computer or another device that you don't trust completely, especially if that device is connected to the internet.
What Kind of USB Drive Should I Use for My Wallet?
Almost any USB flash drive can store a crypto wallet. One great thing about crypto is that most wallets and keys take up very small amounts of space because they don't store the entire blockchain, only the necessary keys. Thus, although tons of different flash drive sizes are available, a basic 1 GB flash drive is plenty for most crypto wallets.
Here are a few things that are worth keeping in mind when you're choosing a USB drive for your wallet:
- Always choose a new, blank USB drive that's never been used before for your crypto wallet.
- A dual USB-C and USB-A drive can help you be sure that your crypto wallet will always be accessible. (See our USB-A vs. USB-C primer to get up to speed on the different connectors.)
- Custom USB drive services from USB Memory Direct let you create a USB drive with exactly the features you want, including options like data preloads, hidden files, and more.
Can I Put My Crypto Wallet on a USB Drive?
Not all crypto wallets offer cold storage options. Some wallets are designed primarily for use as hot wallets for small everyday transactions. Thus, when you're choosing a crypto wallet, look for one that offers easy and secure cold storage options.
How to Put Crypto on a USB Drive in Five Steps
Putting a crypto cold wallet on a USB drive isn't hard, but it does take a few steps of preparation. Here's what you'll need to do:
1. Create a bootable USB drive.
The first step to preparing your USB drive for crypto storage is making it bootable by installing a portable OS. This allows you to add encryption and security that will give you the necessary protection against cybercriminals.
2. Install your crypto wallet of choice on your computer.
Choose a crypto wallet with cold storage features and run the installer to install the application on your computer. You'll use this computer to generate and sign the transactions that will move funds in and out of your cold wallet.
3. Disconnect your computer from the internet.
Unplug your Ethernet connection and/or turn off your WiFi before you plug the USB drive back in. Once again, you should only ever plug your cold wallet USB drive into computers that are not currently connected to the internet.
4. Install the wallet software on the USB drive.
While the internet is disconnected, reconnect the USB drive that you'll be using for your cold wallet. Now, you'll run the cold wallet installer on the USB drive and install the wallet there. Make sure you have a secure password stored in your password manager and set up any additional security features like seed phrases or two-factor authentication that you'd like to use.
5. Transfer your private keys from your hot wallet to your cold wallet.
Use your hot wallet to generate and sign transactions that move the cryptocurrency you want to transfer to the address of your cold wallet. Once your wallet has generated the transaction, you don't need to reconnect the USB drive to receive the currency in your cold wallet. It's already stored in the blockchain!
Whether you're storing crypto, media, project files or anything else, USB Memory Direct gives you a versatile and cost-effective way to do it. Get a quote on your custom flash drives today, or check out our wholesale USB drive offerings to see our very best prices.