12 DIY Guide to Buying, Storing, Trading & Mining Virtual Currencies


See also the Home page for a general introduction to Bitcoins, like: http://www.weusecoins.com/

This is the basics of what you need to do, best practice wise, if you're interested in buying/selling/trading/holding virtual currencies, yourself & playing around with them in order to get accustomed to how they work. Sorry the page is a bit wall of texty, it kind of grew unplanned as more info appeared.

Due to the cash like nature of crypto virtual currencies & the amount of skilled bandits that attracts you should start with best possible security practices, I would advise:

A new dedicated gmail account with 2FA via your mobile/cell phone, you can have it forward any mail it receives to your more day to day account. This isolates your VC dealings & so helps to prevent password reset request fraud etc.

Next a LastPass account to generate & manage/store all your passwords, upgrade to Premium for a small fee once you have over $1,000 of VC out there & get their Yubi key for 2FA (2 keys + Premium LP is good so you have a backup key), when generating passwords choose say 23+ characters, with small case/Caps/numbers & symbols option so it will give you unique ones for each site like: $oFhOF18FMp%UA1dCHJz^Q^
Visit LP settings & set these to the level you are comfortable with, ie restrict access only to the country that you are in etc.


Change the gmail account to a P/W like this if you created it with a weaker one, only ever keep your passwords on LastPass & obviously use different ones for every site/account.

Do not use public Wi-Fi to visit exchanges, banks or even email accounts that you use for 2FA or have registered with sensitive sites like exchanges or anywhere that you may hold coins, only use your password protected home Wi-Fi Or Internet connection:

See trading tips at bottom of page here.

Don't bother with downloading & using the actual Bitcoin client wallet unless you're really in to it as it's far from newbie friendly & it's easy to mess up even for quite geeky users, instead make a blockchain.info wallet which are fantastic, this I prob best do with you in person as that would be easier to explain the optimal settings on it & basic guide to how it works, backups etc, with this you can safely store your own coins & spend/transfer/receive them totally all under your own control, so safer than leaving them on an exchange which is best only done when trading. 2FA (by SMS, Yubikey, Email or Google Authenticator) is a must, as is Double Encryption (a second password to send payments) & Automatic Encrypted Wallet Backups (i.e. by Email when an new address is added or created for the wallet), see Settings/Features & Security for these.


If there is malware, viruses, key loggers on your computer then it's likely to steal the coins in your wallet even if it's encrypted or has 2FA, unless you are just using play money amounts then learn a lot about securing your computer first, disable Java (not JavaScript which is different), in all of your browsers (Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Etc) this is essential! Disable Apps & add-ons/plugins/extensions except for very trusted ones like No Script (which you should definitely have), ideally have a dedicated computer, like the Asus Eee PC X101CH 10.1 inch Netbook £160 Amazon UK or search ASUS Eee for cheaper versions on the US Amazon, the Asus Eee 1011CX is good (€250 July 2013) just for your wallet/s, preferably use the Armoury wallet & off line cold storage (ie never connected to the Internet). 

Also do not browse the web under Windows Administrator account, preferably do not use a Windows PC at all for your wallet/s or logging in to exchanges etc, nor the Internet Explorer browser, if you must then at least have installed NoScriptGhostery, & Adblock Plus, along with MSE & Malwarebytes, Use https everywhere & in settings select "click to play" for plugins, disable autoruns to protect from USB transfer viruses, don't use an old OS & especially not WinXP. Ideally use Linux OS or at least a clean OS install before setting things up, don't click on any random links, even if they look like just .jpg ones, better still get a dedicated machine just for banking etc. 

Log out of important sites & delete their cookies before browsing to any other sites is an important general rule, or to download VMware player (free) and create a VM that you use to do all of your forum/browsing etc. This way you don't have to have a separate computer yet you are completely insulated from an attack on the VM.

Also, unless you really know what you're doing, then don't use the blockchain.info app on your mobile/cell phone & never if it's a rooted phone or only with a loose change/tips level secondary wallet as it is potentially not secure with Android, see: http://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/1czrua/just_lost_160_btc_from_address_managed_with/

You may also like to consider putting email dead man switches or with your executor in place for encoded private keys or passwords (say to a LastPass account with the recipient/s having activated account Yubi Keys & being advised to expect a mail like this so that it isn't treated as spam), or an M-of-N system.

Until you are aware of all this be very wary of how you use sites & forums especially those that are dedicated to Bitcoins, don't browse them from a computer where you have sensitive info, don't click on links there or accept Skype chats, see this thread & onwards.

If you're American then https://coinbase.com is a convenient way to buy coins, there are other options like https://localbitcoins.com just check on the Bitcointalk forum for more info. Also Satoshi Square meet ups in various cities.

There are other exchanges than Mt. Gox & with some it's easier to get say Euros deposited, but they may well be less secure, also Mt. Gox have just announced that they plan to offer Litecoin trading, before they were only Bitcoins, this is a huge factor in this last weeks price rise from $0.55 to nearly $6, over 10 fold, (atm it's $5.49). Be aware that any funds left on an exchange are only as secure as that exchange is, many have been hacked or otherwise lost client's money in the past. Use 2FA on them & turn off their APIs.

Summer 2013, Mt. Gox is having trouble getting their bank to process fiat deposits & especially withdrawals, this had lead to approx a 10% price premium compared to other exchanges, now days I'm using BitStamp though some banks have stated to block SEPA transfers to them as well, see the latest Screen Shots page for latest updates, ie Slovenian bank problems & check the current situation yourself first in general & on the forum. In November 2013 Mt. Gox were even having trouble with Bitcoin withdrawals! So don't use them at all anymore.

https://vaultofsatoshi.com - Canadian global exchange for BTC/LTC/USD trading.

https://vip.btcchina.com - Chinese exchange

These below left here to show how careful one needs to be about trusting exchanges, especially new one - many, many more have failed in the past.

https://bitfinex.com/exchange & margin trading too  <--- use with caution atminternal practices alert. (maybe OK now 2014)

Until Mt. Gox accepts LTC then the main exchange is a  Bulgarian/Russian one called Btc-E, if you wish to buy/sell independently then that is where to register & trade atm (ignore any chat in the troll box there) & as there is no alternative as yet one has to download & use the Litecoin client wallet which needs to be thoroughly understood before putting many coins in to it, like it needs to be encrypted & backed up plus to understand how it works.


It's best practice to enable 2FA via email for withdrawals on btc-e.
Walk-through: Go to your Profile -->​ Edit profile --->​ Security & tick the 'Withdraw only with request on E-Mail' option then click Save.


See my Litecoin Info page for more specifically on Litecoins.

You may also want to join the main forum, make a few posts & stay logged in a few hours &/or request whitelisting to escape the newbies zone:


Info & sites for charts etc

Apps Addons & Mobile wallets etc

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Estimating Bitcoin interest & popularity 


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And as a rule of thumb, if your buying 10+ BTC, don't try to bid above any offers of volume less than 2.1BTC.

If your buying 100 BTC, don't try to bid above any offers of volume less than 15-20BTC.

If your buying 1000BTC, don't try to bid above any offers of volume less than 100BTC.

Lastly, don't get into a bidding war with someone unless there really is a good reason in the news or something that you suspect the price to increase very soon and so you're actually wanting to buy FAST. Just put in your offer and and wait a while (an hour maybe). If nothing happens, raise your offer a bit. 

If bitcoin is in one of it's bubble phases then be careful of buying at what may be the top, at least for a while, look at previous bubbles & leave some lower price bids maybe to try catching any correction & if bitcoin happens to be in a falling market phase (like mostly Apr - July 2013 was) then this is often an excellent time to acquire some by spacing out your buys, expect to lose up to 50% or more on paper as you do this but when the price starts to clime again you will have a good average cost price, for example here buying from Aug - Nov 2011.

Mostly, just hold for the long term, don't panic sell on the inevitable drops & dramas, never sell below your buy in price, in a few years you will be looking at a substantial profit.


When things get very volatile Mt. Gox is prone to lag, freeze or suspend orders so to take this in to account, there's a lot of speculation & the volatility can be extreme.

A guide to buying BTC/LTC in the UK http://www.bitcoinuk.blogspot.com

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