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I used Electrum before the August 2017 Bitcoin fork. Now, I understand that I own both Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash with the same keys.

I'm in no hurry to access my Bitcoin Cash. However, I would like to buy some more Bitcoin and transfer it into Electrum. When I do, should I create a new Electrum wallet file? What happens if I transfer Bitcoin into my old Electrum wallet? Will it screw up my Bitcoin Cash or get mixed up with Bitcoin Cash?

I assume that a new Electrum wallet file will support the new Bitcoin (after the fork). Now, they're talking about another fork into Bitcoin Gold. Is Electrum's wallet the best to use in anticipation of another fork?

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Install Electron-Cash (note the slightly different name , electron, that distinguishes it from the original electrum).

The first release of Electron-Cash had an annoying bug whereby it looked for wallets in the same folder as Electrum: this may have been fixed by now (I haven't checked), but avoid making any transactions until you're sure. You do have the option of specifying a wallet folder of your own choosing.

Once you've ascertained that you're using separate wallet folders for Electron-Cash versus Electrum, you should copy (not move!) your old wallet file from your Electrum wallets folder into your Electron-Cash wallets folder. Make life easier for yourself by giving it a recognizable name (if the old wallet file is called default_wallet, then use some other name, perhaps BCHdefault_wallet, for your new copy).

In Electron-Cash, open your newly copied wallet (if you took the precaution of giving it a distinct name, then you'll have to specify that name in order to open it). You are now viewing your balance of BCH at an identical address/addresses to your BTC balance. BCH has built-in replay protection, so you can safely move them to some other address without accidentally moving your BTC. Obviously, the safest place to send this is an address (controlled by you) that doesn't have any BTC in it.

There's nothing to stop you from sending them to an unused address in the same wallet, but if you do that, you would then want to go to your BTC wallet (Electrum) and mark that address as "frozen" (and in the new BCH wallet you would want to "freeze" any addresses, including change addresses, that you know, from looking in your old wallet, to have BTC in them).

For any future forks, don't blindly assume that replay protection is built-in. It was for the August 2017 fork, but you'll have to do your own research next time!

  • Thanks for explanation of Electron-Cash. Am I correct to assume that there is a "freeze" command in Electron-Cash and Electrum? I'm not sure what freezing does. By freezing in BCH wallet, does that mean that no BTC can go to those addresses? Can those addresses still be used for BCH? My ultimate goal is to buy more Bitcoin. Can I do this and transfer them to the old BTC wallet? – Curt Sep 30 '17 at 13:13
  • Freezing can't stop people sending coins to those addresses — the global Bitcoin network is indifferent to and unaware of your wallet settings. But freezing an address has 2 benefits: (1) it's a visual reminder you that you've decided not to use it within that wallet, and (2) it tells the wallet not to use it (when you press Receive or as a change address). If you can't see the Addresses menu, toggle it on/off by pressing the A key while holding down the Ctrl key on your keyboard. Right click any address to see how to Freeze. Click the triangles if you can't see used addresses. – TEV Oct 1 '17 at 12:08
  • I'm not sure what you mean by: "and in the new BCH wallet you would want to "freeze" any addresses, including change addresses, that you know, from looking in your old wallet, to have BTC in them". Let's say I have BTC in addresses 1, 2 and 3 in my Electrum wallet. Then I copy by Electrum wallet to Electron. Should I freeze addresses 1, 2 and 3 in the Electron wallet? On another note, my ultimate goal is to buy more Bitcoin. Can I do this and transfer the new bitcoins that I bought to the old Electrum BTC wallet? – Curt Oct 10 '17 at 15:31
  • Andrew Chow points out, in his answer, that you don't currently lose anything by having balances at identical addresses in both wallets (thanks to BCH's built-in replay protection). But if you buy and/or earn more BTC in future, you will have to provide the previous owner of those BTC with an address to send them to, and my preference would be to provide an address that's not also in use as a BCH address. We don't know whether or not future hard forks will include built-in replay protection, so it seems like a good idea to forestall future complications by clean separation of addresses. – TEV Oct 10 '17 at 17:08
  • Suppose your original BTC wallet has BTC at addresses 1, 2 & 3. When you open a copy of that wallet in your BCH-wallet software (e.g. Electron-Cash), you will see that you have BCH at addresses 1, 2 & 3, i.e. addresses that are identical to the ones in your BTC wallet. It's for you to decide whether or not that situation is going to be impossibly confusing in the aftermath of some future hard fork. Moving your BCH windfall to a “clean” address will cost you a transaction fee. If you do opt for clean separation, you may as well use the freeze function to bolster your precaution. – TEV Oct 10 '17 at 17:46
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There is no need to create a new wallet file. Just make a backup of the file you currently have and when you decide to spend your Bitcoin Cash, restore that backup in an install of Electron Cash. Receiving Bitcoin will not effect your Bitcoin Cash in any way whatsoever.

  • My ultimate goal is to buy more Bitcoin. Can I do this and transfer the new bitcoins that I bought to the old Electrum BTC wallet? – Curt Oct 10 '17 at 15:32
  • Yes, you can do that. – Andrew Chow Oct 10 '17 at 15:39
  • According to Electrum, we should create a new Electrum wallet and move our BTC to the new wallet, before restoring any keys to an install of Electron: electrum.org/bcc2.txt Do you disagree? – Curt Nov 5 '17 at 15:20

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