Electrum: A Speedy, Low Upkeep, Online Bitcoin Wallet
Electrum is an online bitcoin wallet focused on simplicity and speed. The project has been in the works since 2011 and a variety of contributors have made a functioning software that seems to take away a lot of the stress that the Bitcoin-QT client seems to have. Electrum uses high performance servers to manage the Bitcoin client while still ensuring your private keys are stored only on your system. The Electrum client ensures security by never sending private keys to the server and therefore only retaining a small amount of information on your hard drive, and letting the servers do most of the work.
A user’s wallet, should it be misplaced, can be entirely replaced by what Electrum calls the “seed”. THe seed is a random phrase that is used to generate private keys and can be accessed when logged into the wallet. An example of the seed is as follows, “constant forest adore false green weave stop guy fur freeze giggle clock”. The seed consisted of 128 bits of entropy or 256, much like Bitcoins SHA-256 private keys.
Electrum offers many unique pros to the user such as the ability to send the entirety of a wallets contents by simply typing “!” into the amount field. Another great spiff is the ability to send transactions with zero fees, although they may be delayed or not even relayed by the network. Electrum had this to say when asked if a user can restore their wallet should they forget their password, “ No, you cannot recover your password. However, you can still recover your money: restore your wallet from its seed, and choose a new password.”
Electrum also supports cold storage and has a set of instructions for how to do so located here. Electrum also allows for some cool functions such as sending the same amount to multiple addresses at a time, importing private keys, signing raw transactions, and enabling a BTC/USD price ticker in the GUI.
Overall, Electrum may not be the safest bet for storage of your bitcoins, but is most definitely user friendly and secure enough for not having to keep (and update) the entire Bitcoin client on your disc. I would recommend it as the next best thing to cold storage and the real deal.