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I've seen a number of sites advertise they support "hot", "warm" and "cold" wallet storage solutions (the only thing I haven't seen so far are "frozen" wallets).

What's the difference between the three? I think the difference between "hot" and "cold" wallets are pretty clear. But what makes a wallet "warm" instead of "hot" or "cold"?

P.S

I understand that at some level "warm" wallets are obviously more accessible than cold wallets (hence the name "warm") but how would they differ from a tech perspective - at what point is something hot and at what point is something warm?

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  • Marketing, probably. Feb 1 at 1:10
  • I call my wallets "cryogenic." But that's because I use one-off encryption software (running on an isolated device) that I wrote to convert a series of passwords I make up into a wallet address and save the private key NOWHERE until I generate it again at spend-time ;-) Feb 1 at 2:01
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In general terms, "hot" wallets store both the wallet address(es) and the private key(s) on a network-connected machine, readily accessible so you can spend your balance any time, with very little effort (and lower security).

Meanwhile, "cold" wallets store your private key(s) in an isolated "hardware wallet," on external storage media (which is a lot less secure, and I would consider a "warm" wallet), or on a piece of paper (search "bitcoin paper wallet"). In this way, the funds are "frozen," because no internet-connected device has the private key. This gives you great security, but is less convenient because you have to transfer the private key to a connected device (or use a connected device to send transaction info to a hardware wallet for off-network signing) before you can spend your balance.

As for "warm" wallets, I've seen descriptions of putting private keys in a separate HDD partition, or an encrypted archive file as "warm" wallets.

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