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Private Key Sweep VS Import 

 July 18, 2021

By  Brian Forester

If you are concerned about the privacy of your cryptocurrency wallet, you should know that there are several methods to protect your private keys from hacks. It can be a paper wallet or hardware wallet where all your bitcoins will be kept, but one day, you will decide to transfer them to a bitcoin address. There are several ways to do it, and in this article, we will discuss the sweep of a private key or seed and importing.

A brief comparison of private key sweep and import

These terms are used to explain transferring of bitcoins from a paper wallet to a software address to be able to sell BTC. The difference between them is in the way they interact with private keys.

For instance, if the user imports a private key, it will be moved to a software wallet with the original private key. However, the sweep will create a new private key, but it still will be connected with your private wallet. Experienced users prefer the latter option, and we will explain the reason in the main part of this article.

So, this guide will be helpful for you even if you do not understand these processes now. We will cover all the features of both approaches and provide you advice for their implementation.

Content of the article:

  1. Private key sweeping
  2. Private key importing
  3. Software to sweep and import

Private key sweeping

As we have already said, the only difference between importing and sweeping is that all your coins will be stored in a new destination address on your software wallet.

This process requires an Internet connection because the creation of a new coin address is an online transaction. You will transfer all your crypto from a source wallet to a bitcoin account using an online network during the sweep.

When you sweep a private key, your balance will be deleted from a previous private key, and you will not be able to use it. Instead of this, the system will provide you a new address with a new private key for transactions and trading.

However, you should always pay for sweeping because it includes bitcoin transactions through the net. So, your original amount of crypto will reduce because of the miner fee.

Reasons to sweep private key.

This is an operation that can increase the level of protection of your funds. So, if you worry that someone else knows your private key from a paper wallet, you should sweep it. For example, strangers can find your private key, or someone can publish it on the Internet, and it will put your crypto at risk. It is the case when sweeping is a suitable operation to provide security to your money.

If you sweep your private key, hackers will not be able to spend your crypto and do every transaction from your bitcoin wallet.

It is always difficult to decide whether you need to import or sweep your private key. We will review importing in this article and then provide some recommendations regarding this issue.

Private key importing

Importing private keys means that you add new funds to your software bitcoin address. Your bitcoin wallet can include several private keys, and after importing, there will be one more key with all the crypto from the paper wallet recorded to it.

In contrast to sweeping, your crypto on a paper wallet will still be accessible for any person. It means that you or anyone else will be able to do transactions from both paper wallets and private keys on software addresses. That is why you should be confident that other people do not know your private keys and cannot spend your crypto.

As regards new deposits, all new coins will be transited to both wallets paper and software ones. If someone sends you money to your bitcoin address, it will be available for any operations on both versions of the wallets.

Pay attention to the fact that the balance on a paper wallet will be reset to zero if you make any withdrawals from your software wallet. It works even if you spend only part of the funds from your private keys.

It happens because of the settings of the private key — any bitcoin transaction causes transferring of all leftovers to a new private key in the system.

There are a lot of details that can change your balance or put your crypto at risk while importing it from a paper wallet to a software one. You can get a guide about this process in this article.

Reasons to import private key

Importing is a suitable option for you if you want to withdraw some money from the private keys and you are sure that no one else has access to your wallet. Importing cannot protect your money from hacks if you know that strangers know your private key. That is why you should sweep your private key almost in all cases to prevent the scenario of theft assets.

Software to sweep and import

There are plenty of services that allow you to import or sweep your private keys. Make sure you know all the conditions of these operations for particular software and check the miner fee for sweeping in advance.

Here is the list of programs with bitcoin wallets that can help you to sweep or import the private keys:

  • Electrum
  • Ledger
  • Exodus
  • Jaxx
  • Bitcoin core
  • Coinomi
  • Mycelium
  • Trezor
  • Edge

We recommend you spend some time on an exploration of these services and reading reviews as it will help you to find the best bitcoin wallet for your particular case.

Summing up

There are two methods of transferring your cryptocurrency from paper wallet to software bitcoin wallet — import and sweep. Both of them can be suitable for you if you are confident in the security of your funds. In case if you want to increase the protection level of your crypto, it is better to use sweeping instead of importing, but it requires more steps to do. However, the sweeping private keys will cost you a miner fee for the transaction of funds via the bitcoin network. Even though you pay transaction fees to sweep private keys, it will provide certainty about the safety of your funds.

You can ask your question or share your experience about any way you use to transfer your crypto in the comment section.

FAQs

What is a sweep private key?

Sweep a private key is a procedure of transferring funds from a paper wallet or another similar type of wallet to an online one. The purpose of this operation is to become able to send bitcoin from your private key and increase the level of protection of your funds. The scenario when you need to sweep private keys is when you are not sure about the privacy of your wallet. If you know that someone can get access to your wallet, you should sweep it to another private key and pay a transaction fee for this operation.

What happens if you lose your private key?

Unfortunately, you cannot reset your private key in any case. So, if you lose your private key, you will lose all the crypto you have on it. It is better to record private keys on a paper wallet or to save them on a protected device. Do not try to keep the private key in mind because you may lose all your money if you forget it.

What does sweep wallet mean?

Sweeping private key means change the format of your crypto wallet and make a transaction of all the funds to a new private key. It allows you to use your coins for any purpose and make them inaccessible to other users.

How do I access my private key wallet?

You should use a platform where you have a wallet, for instance, Electrum or Coinomi, and select the option “Use private key.” You should note your private key because it allows you to make operations with your coin. After that, you can protect your crypto account with a password and enter the platform with this password any time you want with your device.

Brian Forester


Brian is an experienced journalist and crypto enthusiast. Founder of CryptoCurry - famed for his insightful input on the future of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies.

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