MyEtherWallet (affectionately known as MEW) is by far the most popular wallet for Ethereum based tokens. Be it Ether (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), or any of the hundreds of ERC-20 token, the MyEtherWallet can store it safely and securely.
What is it that makes MEW the go-to choice of for most Ethereum users? Let’s find out in our MyEtherWallet review.
What Is MyEtherWallet?
Crypto Wallets usually come in two distinct types.
The first type is the full node wallet. Full node wallets are just what they say; a full node that runs a full-fledged copy of the blockchain on your system. While this does speed up transactions somewhat, since you are directly connected to the blockchain in question, it also comes at a cost.
Generally speaking, full node wallets are very resource hungry. Apart from needing to download the entire blockchain to function (the size of which can range from tens to even a couple of hundred of gigabytes), they also tap into the participating system’s memory and processing power to perform hashing and other network supporting tasks.
As a result, running a full node wallet is not recommended on a low spec, low bandwidth system, such as your mobile, or even an old desktop with a choppy internet connection.
The second main type is a custodial wallet. Simply put, these kinds of wallets function by separating the blockchain and your account entirely. Your account, holding your tokens and a log of your transactions, are held in the company’s servers, just like in an email account. The company, on its own backend, performs the necessary connections and transactions with the blockchain, sparing your system from having to run a node itself.
This system has the benefit of being very lean and efficient since all the technical parts of the transaction are dealt with on the server side, so you only need to run the wrapper application.
But this comes with its own set of problems.
Not holding the key to your funds in your own two hands means that you do not actually possess the tokens. This is a direct failure of the principle behind cryptocurrencies – a trustless, decentralized economy. Furthermore, in case of a hack compromising the company’s servers, your entire holdings can be stolen and spent without any authorization from your part.
Also, since the company has all your personal details in its database, it can track your spending habits and sell that data to third party advertisers.
So if both these kinds of wallets are ultimately flawed, what are we to do?
That’s where MyEtherWallet comes in.
MyEtherWallet is what is known as a wallet client. Instead of holding your private keys on its own servers and carrying out transactions on your behalf, MEW just provides you with an interface to communicate with the Blockchain.
By taking away the hard parts of dealing with the Blockchain, MyEtherWallet makes creating a crypto wallet an easy matter. Furthermore, it does not keep your funds itself, meaning that you have full control of your tokens.
Important MyEtherWallet Features
A big buzzword in 2019 is anonymity.
In an age of 24/7 surveillance and artificial intelligence tracking your every move online, there is a pressing need for applications that help you remain anonymous. MEW fulfills that need by allowing you to log in without registering for an account or sharing any personal details like email ids. All information like your funds, transaction history, etc. is sourced (and stored) directly from the Blockchain.
Complete Ethereum compatibility
MyEtherWallet is a one-stop shop for anything Ethereum. It supports not only ETH (Ethereum) itself but also every ERC-20 token built on top of the Ethereum blockchain. This means you can store hundreds of cryptos on MEW.
Add Custom Tokens
Dismayed by the lack of support for your favorite new token on the crypto wallet you are using? We have all been there one time or another.
Fortunately for you, MyEtherWallet has come to the rescue. A simple form allows you to add custom tokens to your wallet yourself, even if it may not be present on the official list of supported tokens yet. Just specify the token smart contract address (on the Ethereum network, of course) along with the Token Symbol, and the token would be added.
Now keeping up with the mind-boggling galaxy of Ethereum tokens is easy, thanks to MEW.
Integrated Crypto Exchange
While MyEtherWallet works differently than your regular web wallet, it offers an integrated cryptocurrency exchange on its web-based application. You can swap your tokens easily using the built-in form, without having to migrate your funds to a crypto exchange like Binance first. MEW manages this because of its partnerships with KyberNetwork, Bity, Changelly, and Simplex.
Apart from swapping tokens, you can make fiat to crypto transactions as well, effectively allowing you to buy crypto without going to a crypto exchange.
Access Cold Wallets
This is the single most important reason that brings people to MyEtherWallet over its numerous competitors. Most of us have some crypto stashed in cold storage in the form of a Trezor, Ledger Nano S or even just a humble paper wallet.
A unique feature of MEW is that it allows you to access multiple wallets through a single interface and integrates with popular wallets like Mist and MetaMask as well. This makes it an excellent go-between option for accessing your various scattered funds from a single place.
Customize Gas Limits
Usually, the default suggested gas limits are enough for most transactions. In rare cases, however, you may want to adjust it manually. This is especially the case in case of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), where a speedy transaction confirmation is essential to getting your hands on those coveted tokens.
MEW lets you set your own Gas price and Gas limits, though you should refrain from touching these options unless you know what you are doing.
Companion Mobile App
The team behind MyEtherWallet recently launched MEWConnect, a companion app to the web-based service. Basically, it gives you hardware wallet levels of security on your mobile device by storing your private keys safely in a local, isolated, and secure vault on your device itself.
This app addresses a persistent issue users have previously faced with MEW – it does not store your private keys on its own servers, making you responsible for its safety yourself. Now, you can finally store it safely on your mobile, without having to purchase a hardware wallet for the same functionality.
How To Use MyEtherWallet
First of all, make sure that you accessing the right site. MEW has been known to be a target of phishing attacks from time to time, so if you receive a mail or a message containing a link to MyEtherWallet, avoid it at all costs. It is more than likely that such a link would lead to a fake site instead.
Though a Google search works, it is best to directly type https://www.myetherwallet.com after which you can simply bookmark it for further visits.
How To Setup MEW?
For a complete guide on using MEW, refer to our in depth article. Otherwise, here is a short breakdown on how to get started.
On scrolling down the home screen, there are two main options before you – Create A New Wallet, and Access My Wallet. Basically, if you already have a wallet on any platform (Ledger, Trezor, Paper, Metamask etc.), you use the second option. Otherwise, click on ‘Create A New Wallet’ to make us a new one.
You will be presented with a small warning, urging you to carefully read the coming introduction. Click on Continue.
The fairly long introduction that you are presented with is worth reading if you are not already familiar with it.
After going through an entire slide show of sorts, you will finally be rewarded with the wallet creation screen. There are three ways you can now proceed.
The first option is MEWconnect, in which a wallet will be created by storing the private key on a mobile device with the companion app. This is the default option and the most secure.
By KeyStore File
The second option is a keystore file. It is simply an encrypted file holding your private key.
The quick way of creating a wallet is by creating a digital keystore, where you are spared having to write down a private key or mnemonic phrase and entering it to log in each time. Instead, you get a digital key that you simply upload to access your account, along with your password.
Keep in mind that the keystore is literally the key to your wallet, and should not be left lying around on your PC or shared online. For this method, you will also need to set a password, which will be used to lock the keystore file.
After choosing a reasonably strong password, click on Next to be given your keystore file. Download it, and keep it safely – it is the digital key to your wallet. Make sure to back it up in a secure storage solution as well.
By Mnemonic Phrase
This is the most common way to create a wallet. Instead of a long string of gibberish that makes up your private key, MEW will generate a ‘seed’ for you.
This seed, or the mnemonic phrase as it is also called, is a collection of random words that will serve as the key to your wallet. It can either 12 words or 24 words long, depending on your choice, though we would recommend taking the higher number for maximum security.
Upon clicking next, MEW will generate you mnemonic phrase for you. You can toggle the number of words from here (it will generate the seed again each time). Once you are satisfied with the seed, write it down somewhere safe. Alternatively, you can print the mnemonic phrase as well, by clicking on the small printer icon at the bottom. You will then see a sheet like this.
As it is written, you would need both your password and the mnemonic phrase to be able to access your account, so someone simply getting access to this sheet would not necessarily compromise your funds. That said, it is one of the main pillars of the security of your account, so make sure to stash it somewhere safe.
Finally, MEW will ask you to re-enter your mnemonic phrase to ensure that you have indeed jotted it down. Don’t cheat by taking a screenshot!
Accessing Your Wallet
This time on the home screen, click on the ‘Access My Wallet’ tile.
The Access My Wallet screen gives you four options, depending on the kind of wallet you are looking to access. There is MEWconnect, for wallets that have their private keys backed up to MEW’s companion app on their mobile. Then there is Hardware, for accessing wallets stored on Ledgers and Trezors. MetaMask, of course, is for wallets created on the popular browser extension.
What we are looking for here is Software. That is the option for accessing wallets through private keys and mnemonic phrases. As such, this option works for loading your paper wallet as well.
HD stands for Hierarchical Deterministic. Basically, it is an algorithm for generating a set of addresses from a wallet. By selecting this option, you will be able to choose an address to interact with. Check the ‘I accept Terms’ (after reading them through, of course) to continue.
The brand new wallet home screen is before you. It shows your Balance, Address, Network details along with the Send form on one screen, making it easier to work with your wallet.
The MyEtherWallet has always been at the forefront of Ethereum wallets. With its new look, revamped UI, and a companion app to boot, it comfortably sweeps the floor with all its competition.
Not only does MEW offer a secure offline environment to transact with the blockchain, but also protects your identity and your funds from malicious hackers. On top of that, it provides a handy frontend to ‘warm up’ your cold wallets, allowing you to bring your frozen coins into use without exposing them to a crypto exchange directly.