I consider myself a "man of few transfers" as I like to keep my crypto investing as simple and straight forward as possible. I found a wallet that I like for holding a good majority of my coins and then I have coins in a few other select locations. No matter if you hold a 1,000 coins or just Bitcoin there comes a time when it is necessary to move your cryptocurrency around from place to place. If you are trying to move your crypto from one wallet to another (including from a paper wallet like we talked about in my recent article), then there are 2 very different ways of going about it.
Follow The 'Stache as I guide you in which method is right for you and why. Here is my step-by-step guide on importing your private keys the right way!
What Is Sweeping & Importing
If you want to move your Bitcoin from one wallet to another (in particular a paper wallet) this is the first question you should ask, but what is the difference? First, lets keep in mind that your cryptocurrency is not actually HELD in a wallet, but resides on the Blockchain. That's what blockchains do, keep track of all this stuff. The wallet is a tool that "houses" our private keys which give us access to the info stored on the blockchain.
Using a quick example, think of the Blockchain as your house and "Importing" your private keys is like making a copy of your house key. Now there are 2 ways to access your house where there was only 1 way before. In my opinion this is a possible security breach and I don't mind paying a few transaction fees to avoid it.
Now if "importing" your private key to another wallet is like making a copy of your house key then "sweeping" your private key to another wallet is like getting a completely new house & key. When you sweep you wallet, you are actually sending your Bitcoin from one location to a new location. This is in contrast to "importing" a private key which really just gives a new location access to those same funds connected to the same private key.
To Sweep, Or Not To Sweep...
Always sweep the leg... err I mean wallet!
I know some would argue with this, but there are very few occasions where I would say that you would actually import your keys and not sweep them. In the rare instance that your keys are SO well hidden and no one has access to them (not the crazy girlfriend, friends, co-workers, or even the maid if you got it like that), then maybe you would import your private keys to a new wallet or location.
If you are moving funds from a paper wallet you must ALWAYS sweep your wallet. Sweeping is as simple as a transaction on the blockchain to a brand new private key that now resides in the new wallet location. You may incur a small miner transaction fee for this, but it is much safer in all cases and really just mandatory in my eyes. Each wallet is different so I may not cover your wallet, but I am going to use Exodus as an example.
Sweeping Your Wallet With Exodus
- First you want to find the private key for the funds you want to move. If you are using a paper wallet, this is the SPEND private key as you may also have a private key for loading & verifying printed too.
- Open up Exodus and access the developers menu. This is a special menu typically hidden, use Ctrl+Shift+D on Windows, on Mac it is under the Exodus menu.
- Find the asset you want to move over and then go to "Move Funds (WIF)". There is also a paper wallet option, choose that if you are specifically moving from a paper wallet.
- Paste in your private key from the location you are moving funds from. Note that I said PASTE, don't type it in if you don't have to. If you HAVE to type it in, triple check it before you confirm. There are NO refunds in crypto! Also take in consideration that while it says "import" they are actually "sweeping" your key and it will require a transaction.
- Once you confirm the transaction & it is confirmed, your funds will now be shown in the Exodus wallet on a new private key that you hold. One of the little things I like about Exodus is how it makes this coin jingle noise when you receive a transaction, it feels like winning on the slot machines in Las Vegas!
That's it! Now you know the difference between sweeping (an actual transaction), and importing (just adding more access points) and also how to sweep your wallet into my favorite wallet Exodus.
Of course, each wallet is different and this process may not be as easy on other wallets so be cautious and always double and triple check what you are doing because in cryptocurrency you are the person responsible for your moneys safe keeping!