Installing Bitcoin Core on your regular computer can be done, but it’s not ideal. If you don’t mind leaving your computer on 24/7, then this will work fine. If you need to turn off the computer, it gets annoying waiting for the software to sync up each time you turn it back on.
These instructions are for Mac or Windows Users. Linux users won’t need my help most likely, but the instructions for Linux are very similar to Mac.
Ideally, you want to use a clean computer, one with no malware. Even if you use a hardware wallet, malware can trick you out of your coins.
You can either wipe clean an old computer, and use it as a dedicated Bitcoin computer, or buy a dedicated computer/laptop.
The Hard Drive
Bitcoin Core will take up about 400 gigabytes of data on your drive, and will continue to grow. You can use your internal drive, but you can also attach an external hard drive. I’ll explain both options. Ideally, you should use a solid-state drive. If you have an old computer, it probably doesn’t have one of these internally. Just buy a 1 or 2 terabyte external SSD and use that. The regular drive will probably work, but you might end up having issues and it will be much slower.
Download Bitcoin Core
Go to bitcoin.org (make sure you don’t go to bitcoin.com, which is a shitcoin site owned by Roger Ver, tricking people to buy Bitcoin Cash instead of Bitcoin)
Once there, it’s strangely not obvious where to get the software. Go to the resources menu and click “Bitcoin Core”, as shown below:
This will bring you to the download page:
Click the Download Bitcoin Core orange button:
There are several options to choose from, depending on your computer. The first two are relevant to this guide; choose Windows or Mac on the left bar. It will begin downloading after you click it, most likely to your Downloads directory.
Verify the download (part 1)
Also on the same download page, you’ll see a link “verify release signatures”. Go ahead and click that and it should download the text file to your Downloads directory.
This file contains the SHA256 hashes of the various download packages of Bitcoin Core. It also contains a digital SIGNATURE of the developer. The developer used his gpg private key to produce that signature. We can verify that the file he signed has not been tampered with if we verify that signature.
To do that, we need his public key, the signature, and the message (SHA256 hashes in the file). Currently, we have all but the public key.
To proceed with the next step, we must have gpg installed on our computer.
To do that, see my SHA256/gpg guide, and scroll about halfway to the “Download gpg” section, and look for the subheading of your operating system. Then come back here.
Get the Public Key
It’s a bit odd, but the “Bitcoin Release Signing Keys” link contains old public keys that don’t work. There is a way to get the current key that will always work, and there is no need to rely on websites being up to date:
First attempt to verify the signature without the public key, and the error message identifies which key we need:
Using terminal (Mac) or CMD (Windows), navigate to the Downloads directory (case sensitive in Mac), where the file containing the signature is located:
Then type the following command:
gpg --verify SHA256SUMS.asc
Depending on when you follow this guide, the file name “SHA256SUMS.asc” may have been changed. Just make sure you are typing the filename exactly correctly.
The error looks like this:
The error tells us that Key
90C8019E36C2E964 is missing. Let’s get it. Copy the following code and make sure you replace
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX with the missing key’s identifier (
90C8019E36C2E964). Yours may look different if the key is updated since this article was written:
gpg --keyserver hkp://keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
And the following output is what success looks like:
We now have the public Key of Wladimir J. van der Laan in our computer’s keyring. Out of interest, at any time, you can see what keys are in the computer’s keyring with this command:
Verify the download (part 2)
We have the public key, so we can now verify the SHA256SUMS.asc file which contains the hashes of the Bitcoin Core download, and the signature for those hashes.
Open Terminal or CMD again, and make sure you are in the Downloads directory. From there, execute this command:
gpg –verify SHA256SUMS.asc
Again, check the spelling of the file is accurate. This is the output you should get:’
It is safe to ignore the WARNING message – that just is reminding you that you haven’t met Wladimir at a key part and personally asked him what his public key was, and then told your computer to trust this key completely.
If you got this message, you now know that the SHA256SUMS.asc file has not been tampered with after Wladimir signed it.
Next, we need to hash the Bitcoin Core download and compare it to what Wladimir says the hash should be. Then we know our hash matches his hash, and that the download is identical to what Wladimir released. ie there has been no tampering of the file.
Navigate to the Downloads directory again and execute this command (replace X’s with the bitcoin core download file name exactly):
FOR MAC —–>
shasum -a 256 XXXXXXXXXXXX
FOR WINDOWS —–>
certutil -hashfile XXXXXXXXXXX SHA256
You will get a hash output. Make a note of it, and compare it to the hash contained in the SHA256SUMS.asc file.
If the outputs are identical, congratulations, you have just verified the download using privacy technology the United States Government tried to outlaw in the 1990s and failed.
Install Bitcoin Core
You shouldn’t need detailed instructions on how to install the program.
Run Bitcoin Core
On a Mac, you might get a warning (Apple is still anti-Bitcoin)
Click OK, and then open your System Preferences
Click the Security and Privacy Icon:
Then click “open anyway”:
The error will appear again, but this time you’ll have an OPEN button available. Click it.
Bitcoin Core should load and you’ll be presented with some options:
Here you can choose to use the default pathway for where the blockchain will be downloaded to, or you can choose your external drive. I recommend no changing the default path if you are going to use the internal drive, it makes things easier to set up when you install other software to communicate with Bitcoin Core.
You can choose to run a pruned node, it saves space, but limits what you can do with your node. Either way, you’ll be downloading the entire blockchain and verifying it anyway, so if you have the space, keep what you downloaded, and don’t prune if you can avoid it.
Once you confirm, the blockchain will begin downloading. It will take many days.
You can shut down the computer and come back to download if you want, it won’t do any damage.