This is a guide for creating and managing your own Ethereum (and ERC20 tokens, such as BAT) using MyEtherWallet (MEW). If you’d like to jump straight into learning how to send funds from a wallet you already created, check out part 2 of this tutorial series.
Warning: Before you continue, one of the most important rules of managing crypto online is to NEVER click on a link to access websites such as wallets and exchanges. Clicking on links to access wallets or exchanges is one of the most common ways to get your funds stolen because you end up entering your password/private keys into a compromised website. To reinforce crypto-safety best practices, don’t click on the MEW link above, and instead make a new window and type “myetherwallet.com” into your address bar.
What is MyEtherWallet (MEW)?
MyEtherWallet (MEW) is a “free, open-source, client-side interface.” Basically, the webpage loads a program onto your computer that your browser runs offline to generate, open, and manage a wallet that sends Ethereum and ERC20 tokens (such as BAT). MEW is generally the safest, cost-effective (free) method of managing your own Ethereum and Ethereum-based crypto currencies and tokens. Since all Ethereum tokens run on top of the Ethereum network, this is what you will use to manage your BAT (or any other ERC20 token).
So let’s get started! Start a new window and type in “myetherwallet.com” into your address bar! (Also, good practice is to double-check the address bar to make sure the address is correct, and there isn’t an extra ‘t’ or something, like myetherwallett.com. A mistyped MEW site is 100% a scam site!)
This is the first screen you’ll see when you go to this site. They provide basic information about their program, and also warnings and safety suggestions. Let’s continue. Click on of the dark area behind the presented view to dismiss it.
Creating Your First Ethereum Wallet
After dismissing the presented view, you will see a screen titled “Create New Wallet.”
- Enter a password that you will use to unlock your wallet. This password should be long, yet easy to memorize. If you’ve never seen the xkcd comic, check it out to see a good way to create passwords you can remember. You can use sites like howsecureismypassword.net to get a sense of how secure your password is. In worst case scenario, someone obtains your wallet file but will need to be able to crack your password to access your funds. You want to make this as hard as you can for them! But be sure you write it down so you don’t forget it! One of the easiest way people lose their crypto funds is by forgetting passwords to their encrypted wallets!!
- Click Create New Wallet to continue!
Keystore file – this is your encrypted “wallet” file
After you entered a password to create your wallet, the program will generate something called a Keystore file. This file is basically your encrypted wallet that can be unlocked with your password. In order to spend your funds, you will need access to this physical file (the Keystore file), and the password you created it with.
- Click to download the Keystore file. The download-window will come up, and it will default to a crazy file name. Just rename it something you will recognize, such as “bat-keystore” or anything else. Save/download the file after you rename it.
- Click to continue.
Private Key – this is equivalent to your money
The next screen will show you the Private Key that is associated with your wallet. In relation to the Keystore file, your Private Key = Keystore+password. That’s right, someone having access to your Private Key is equivalent to being able spend all of your crypto that resides in your wallet. My recommendation is do not EVER type or paste this anywhere. Do not send it to anyone in an email, do not send it to anyone in a text message. If you know how to, back it up in an encrypted container.
- Save your Private Key by copying and pasting into a text file, save in into a USB drive, and don’t ever let anyone get their hands on it!
- Optionally, print your Private Key, giving you a physical copy that you can store in a safe or lockbox. Remember, this printed ticket is equivalent to access of all crypto funds that will be sent to your wallet!
- Click to continue.
Accessing your Wallet with Keystore
Once you have created and backed up both your Keystore file and Private Key, you will now access your wallet for the first time. We want to make sure you remembered the password and also didn’t mistype it!
- Select Keystore / JSON File to access your wallet.Optionally, you can also choose the Private Key option below it, but I would NEVER recommend choosing this. Copying+pasting your private key to access your wallet is basically equivalent to flashing your safe combination every time you want to open your safe. Very risky if a program running in the background is logging text. At least with a Keystore, a program needs both the physical Keystore file as well as the password, so you would be resistant to keyloggers, if one was running in the background in a web browser or something.
Accessing your Wallet with Keystore, still…
- Select your Keystore file that you saved earlier.
- Type in the password you created your Keystore with.
If you accidentally mistyped your password during creation and cannot unlock it, great! You now discovered this and didn’t lose any funds! Go back to step 1 to recreate your wallet (without mistyping your password!). You can discard this Keystore.
- Click to continue.
Your first Ethereum/BAT wallet!
After clicking Unlock, scroll down. Ta-da! You have created your first wallet!
- This is your wallet’s Public Address. This is where people will send you funds. For example, if someone wants to send you Ethereum, or BAT, or anything else, copy and paste this entire address. This can be public, so don’t worry. People who know your public address cannot spend your funds.
- If you ever lose your Private Key and want to back it up, you can always get access to it as long as you have your Keystore file and you can unlock it with your password. Remember, Keystore+password = Private Key. Having one set means you have the other!
That wasn’t so hard, was it? You can make as many wallets as you like! But here are some main points to take away when creating and managing your own wallet:
- Create wallet using a STRONG password! In case someone has access to your Keystore file, they won’t be able to access your funds unless they can crack your password!
- Keep your password in a safe place! But also don’t lose/forget it!
- The Keystore file is essentially your wallet encrypted. To access your funds, you need physical access to your Keystore file and have your password to unlock it! You need to Save this file and back it up!
- The Private Key is basically your wallet that is opened up for anyone to use! You can always open your wallet using your Private Key, but it is NOT recommended because it is susceptible to key loggers. Use this as your last-resort to open up your wallet in case you lose physical access to your Keystore, or if you forget your password!
- Give people access to your Public Address to receive funds! Anyone can drop you Ethereum or ERC20 tokens (such as BAT) if they have your address. This can be public, so you can save this in an open text file for easy access!
In our next tutorial, we will show you how to send your crypto funds once someone has deposited either Ethereum or BAT into your wallet!
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