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I hail from a state where bandwidth is yet at a premium. Typical download speeds, in my experience as a dialup ADSL user, range from 10KBps up to 70KBps. Inclement weather may cause packet loss if not outright link failure. Over the last few months several ISP hereabouts have responded to service requests speaking of issues at the gateway.

Granted the issues I face are local but my intent here should be pretty clear - What are the alternatives to downloading the multi-GB (and growing!) block chain?

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Alternatives to downloading the data yourself in reference client:

  1. Take your computer to somewhere with Internet that you can be for several hours, perhaps a friend or relative's house, or a library or coffee shop.
  2. You can employ bootstrap.dat by having someone else download it and give it to you somehow. Then you'd only have to get caught up and download ~ 2 GB. Alternatively, you can have that same person create for you a bootstrap.dat that is 100% up to date, as that bootstrap is behind by a few months.
  3. Use a web wallet. You'll be sacrificing some security for the convenience, though.
  4. Use an SPV client, such as Multibit or Bitcoin for Android, that only has to download data related to your addresses. You'll be sacrificing the ability to verify any payment. Many people find this acceptable.
  5. Use a server-reliant client such as Electrum, where your client must download virtually no data. You'll always rely on a central server for transmission and verification of transactions, but your private keys will always be stored locally.
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www.multibit.org <--This seems to be a pretty good client that doesn't need the full blockchain locally.

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