In Mist, there are some addresses listed as accounts, and some listed as wallets. What's the difference? Which should I use? And why do I need Ether to create a Wallet?

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    I just want to point out that since this post, the names display in Mist are: ACCOUNTS and WALLET CONTRACTS. Everything in this post that talks about "Wallets" applies to "Wallet Contracts".
    – tayvano
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 17:07

1 Answer 1


Accounts are the most basic way to store Ether. They are simple public/private keypairs, which you use to sign transactions. You don't need to do anything to "register" an account with the network, just generate one and send some ether to it.

Wallets are smart-contracts that allow for advanced features such as transaction logging, multisig, withdrawal limits, and more. In order to create a wallet, you need to deploy the contract to the blockchain, which requires ether. You need to make sure you keep track not only of the keys required to access the wallet, but also the wallet address. Unlike with accounts, wallet addresses are not very easily derivable from the private key (although it's not the end of the world if you lose the wallet address, you can use a block explorer to find what contracts you've created recently). Technically you can recover the address from just the account that created it and the nonce of the transaction, but that's a hassle.

tl;dr: Start with an account, get some Ether, then create a wallet and store your ETH there

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    >>create a wallet and store your ETH there<< So, if one has no need for for advanced wallet features (ie just want to store eth) it is ok to leave eth on an account as opposed to a wallet?
    – user257
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 23:00
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    Yes. Accounts are perfectly safe, and easier to back up, and just generally simpler Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 23:02
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    For what reason would I ever create a wallet-contract then? Commented Apr 29, 2017 at 14:54
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    For the more advanced features. Consider a stack of cash in a safe (if you now the combination, you have full access, if not, no access) vs. a checking account at a bank (where you can write checks, use a debit card, online banking features, have multiple people who can sign, etc.) An account is like a safe and a wallet is like a checking account.
    – D. A.
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 0:49
  • Although that implies that an account is safer than a wallet, which isn't necessarily true. It's actually safer in many cases, like a safe deposit box that requires many keys Commented May 25, 2017 at 0:55

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