Blockchain Blog

What's the Difference? A Comparison Between Key Blockchain Wallet Terms and Features

Recently, we did a two part series on common Bitcoin terms, with the intention to help define common words used in the Bitcoin network.

Within the Blockchain Wallet, we have terms and key features that are new and could cause some confusion. This post is intended to help clarify some of these terms and features. If you aren’t sure about the difference between your secret phrase and your mnemonic (among others), please read on!

We decided to tackle five pairs of commonly confused terms. Each term will be explained, followed by a small chart that highlights the differences and similarities between key features.

1. Archived Addresses and Active Addresses

With the Blockchain Wallet, we provide users the option to archive Bitcoin addresses to help keep your wallet clean and organized. By archiving an address, it’s no longer listed in the Active Addresses tab. Active Addresses are Bitcoin addresses that are in use currently, or you want to be able to monitor.

Addresses that are no longer in use or never used can be archived. To archive an address, go to your Blockchain Wallet, click on the Receive Money tab, and find the address you wish to archive. Click on the Actions button to the right of the address, and click on Archive. Any address that is archived can be restored at a later date. An archived address balance will not display in your total wallet balance.

Key Features / Use Active AddressesArchived Addresses
Spendable?YesNo (but can be restored)
Displayed in total wallet balance?YesNo
Ability to sweep keys?NoYes

2. Main Password and Second Password

For security reasons, we require a main password to access your wallet. You are unable to reset your main password for your wallet. We also highly recommend using two factor authentication for your wallet for better security. On top of this, we offer a secondary password for heightened security. The second password, which can be reset, will be required any time you send funds from your account. To create a second password, go to your Blockchain Wallet, Account Settings, and click on Passwords.

Key Features / Use Main PasswordSecond Password
Securing your wallet?YesYes (for spending)
Can I change this?NoYes

Sample Wallet Mnemonic Passphrase

Sample Wallet Mnemonic Passphrase

3. Secret Phrase and Wallet Mnemonic

A secret phrase can be used to reset your two-factor authentication settings on your wallet. It can be a single word, sentence or string of words up to 255 characters in length which is entered into your Blockchain Wallet account settings for extra security. To add a secret phrase, go to your Blockchain Wallet, Account Settings, and click on Security.

A secret phrase is solely for two-factor authentication reset purposes. It will not come in handy if you’ve forgotten your password, which can only be recovered by using your mnemonic.

A mnemonic is the passphrase seed of your Blockchain Wallet provided to you when you sign up for a new wallet. The purpose of this is in case you need to recover your wallet at a later date, if you lose your login information. When you recover your wallet with your mnemonic, your password and identifier will be displayed to you. Your main password can not be changed once it is set, therefore your mnemonic will always remain the same for each wallet. To find your wallet mnemonic, log into your Blockchain wallet, Account Settings, and click on Passwords.

Key Features / Use Secret PhraseWallet Mnemonic
Two-factor authentication resetYesNo
Wallet recoveryNoYes
Can I change this?YesNo

4. Wallet Identifier and Public Addresses

A wallet identifier can be considered a wallet ID number or username for a particular Blockchain Wallet, not to be confused with your Bitcoin public address. Here is an example of a link to log in with a particular wallet identifier (identifier in bold):* blockchain.info/wallet/*52ddf127-23fe-4b4e-9697-fcfeed18e721. Identifiers are not a universal Bitcoin feature. They are specifically used for logging into your Blockchain Wallet, and you can only have one identifier per wallet.

A Bitcoin public address is what you share with others when they are going to send you a Bitcoin payment. Here is a link to an actual public address (address in bold): blockchain.info/address/1JTWyybXcBLb1EdJHzULptUws4haRwamuS.

Public addresses are universal to the Bitcoin Network, and can be tracked using any Block Explorer or relevant software. It is generally accepted as a best security practice to generate a new Bitcoin address for each time you receive funds.

Key Features / Use Wallet IdentifierPublic Bitcoin Address
Wallet username / Logging inYesNo
To receive bitcoinsNoYes
Multiple per wallet?NoYes

Bitcoin Watch Only Section

Bitcoin Watch Only Section

5. Watch Only Addresses and Private Key Imports

We’ve previously written about this topic and want to help reiterate how important these features are. A watch only address gives you the option to watch addresses you are interested in, without having the permissions to spend the bitcoins in the address (read-only). To add a Bitcoin watch only address, log in to your Blockchain Wallet. Click on the Import / Export button and enter in the Bitcoin address you want to watch into the field. Click the Add Watch Only Address button to add it to your wallet.

As opposed to a watch only address, a Bitcoin address that you have the private key to allows you to spend it. If you generated a public and private key pair on another web service, and wanted to import that key pair into your Blockchain Wallet for spending, you could do that with the Import Private Key function. Simply go to your Blockchain Wallet and click on the Import / Export button to begin the import process.

Key Features / Use Watch Only AddressPrivate Key (Imported)
Spendable?NoYes
Address Monitoring?YesYes
If you’re looking for help on our address and transactions page, [check out our tutorial](http://blog.blockchain.com/2014/08/29/how-to-understand-the-blockchain-info-address-and-transactions-page/) which goes into a lot more detail on how to read it and understand the terminology used on that page.

If you need help using a term not covered above, let us know so we can cover it next time.