What is MyEtherwallet?
MyEtherWallet (MEW) is a web-based tool for creating wallets. MEW is not like a regular online web wallet. It’s a client-side interface that accesses the ethereum blockchain.
You store your information on your own computer or drive, not on MEW.
This eliminates many of the security issues of an online wallet. As long as you keep several offline backups in different locations.
You can only use it to interact with ethereum and ethereum based ERC-20 tokens/altcoins.
ERC-20 tokens exist on the ethereum blockchain and conform to a set of rules. These rules program the ethereum ecosystem functionality into the coin.
That sounds complicated, but for the average user, all you need to know is that you can use MEW with many altcoins.
You don’t need to go much deeper than that. If you have an ERC-20 coin that is not on the list supported by MEW, you can add it yourself. As long as it is a true ERC-20 token you will be able to use a MEW wallet with it.
Why Use MEW?
Most new users to crypto start with an exchange like Coinbase.
The problem with using an exchange is that they control your private key. They have control of your crypto. Exchanges are susceptible to hacking and employee error.
An exchange like Coinbase also only supports a few cryptos.
They do offer a more traditional way of working with currency. You get a username, password, and recovery tools if you lose your login details or need to change them. For some people that may be attractive, especially if they are new to cryptocurrency.
Become Your Own Bank
One of the great things about crypto is that it enables you to become your own bank and not rely on anyone else.
Get your coins off the exchanges as soon as you can. Remember, if the exchange gets hacked or goes down, your crypto may be gone forever.
Does MEW Have Recovery Tools?
Your crypto is available for anyone to see on the blockchain, so you do not need an exchange to send or receive coins. You can use a client-side wallet like MEW provided you have your private key. This is proof of ownership of your coins.
If you lose your password, key, or the wallet file generated on the MEW website, there’s no recovery method. They store none of your data.
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How Do I Use MyEtherWallet?
We have had feedback from readers confused by MEW. Below are the basic steps for generating a new wallet.
It is a good idea to try this out before using the wallet to store any ethereum or ERC-20 tokens. You can always generate a new wallet when you feel comfortable and are ready to use it for real. The wallets are free.
Always do these checks first!
1. Make sure that you are on the real MEW website. Use this link and bookmark it: MEW.
2. Check that the SSL certificate is valid. There should be a green padlock (1) to the left of the web address. SSL uses a session key to encrypt all transmitted data. The server has to identify itself.
Google is insisting every website uses SSL. This gives people a false sense of security. Anyone can buy a domain and an SSL certificate, it doesn’t mean they are legitimate.
Find out more about SSL here.
3. You should have Cryptonite installed. The shield on the right (2) should be green if this is the genuine MEW website. A green strip also drops down to let you know this is the genuine site. You can turn this feature off.
Get Cryptonite here:
Create A Wallet In MEW
Now you have verified that you are on the real MEW website, you can create a new wallet.
1. MEW asks you to input a password. Generate one using a password generator. Your password should always be 14 characters or longer. Open a text file and paste your password into it and save the file in a folder that is easy to find. In case something goes wrong during the setup or you forget it.
2. Input your password and click on ‘Create New Wallet.’
3. MyEtherWallet generates a UTC/JSON Keystore File. This file stores your wallet private key protected by the password you entered in step 2.
4. Download your keystore file. Save it in the same folder as the password for now.
5. Once you have downloaded your file click on ‘I understand Continue.’
6. You will see your private key. This is the key to the crypto in your wallet. Do not lose it or show it to anyone. Copy the key and save it to a text file in the same folder as the UTC/JSON and password files for now.
7. MEW gives you the option to download and print a paper wallet version so you can keep it in cold storage. Click on ‘Print Paper Wallet’ and MEW will generate it for you.
If you do use a paper wallet, there are precautions you need to take to safeguard your cryptocurrency.
We have several articles on dealing with paper wallets and securing them.
8. Make three backups of the folder containing your MEW wallet details. Store them at three different secure locations. Encrypt the information.
Do not leave your wallet details on any computer that accesses the internet. Unless you use it for crypto transactions only and then take it offline. Do not keep the UTC/JSON, private key, and password files together unless encrypted.
More MEW Tips & Features
- The safest way to use MEW is with a hardware wallet. Check out one of the best hardware wallets available.
- There is a swap option where you can swap your coins for other supported cryptos. MEW uses BITY to facilitate the swaps.
- You can import a private key from any ethereum wallet and make transactions using MEW.
- There is a good help section if you get stuck.
- Every time you want to do any transactions with MEW you will have to go through the unlock process.
You will need to select the UTC/JSON Keystore file you generated and enter the password to unlock it.
Once you login you can see the wallet details. It displays both keys and an option to generate another paper wallet.
- You can also interact with smart contracts. One of the great features of ethereum. This article shows an interaction with a smart contract and how they work.
- There is a Chrome-based MEW App. We do not recommend using mobile Apps for crypto.
- You can view your balance without logging into MEW. Put your public address into the box on this website.
- For even more security you can run MEW offline. See how to do that here.
- If you use MEW offline it will not be able to display your balance. Ethplorer and Etherscan will.
You can use MetaMask to interface with MEW. This cuts down the chances of a criminal phishing you. It protects your key, making it much harder for a fake website to steal it.
This article should leave you with a basic understanding of MEW and how to set up your first wallet. It is intermediate level and you should take your time and create a test wallet first. After a few transactions, you will find that MEW is not too bad to use.
The safest way to use MEW is to get yourself a hardware wallet.
If you have suggestions for other tutorials, please contact us and let us know. We would love to hear from you.
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* Trade Bitcoin Safely is not qualified to give cryptocurrency wallet advice. This article is for entertainment purposes only. You should not consider it advice. Please consult a crypto wallet expert before using any wallet.