There are a range of ways to buy bitcoins in your local area. Localbitcoins.com can be a good place to start if you just want to quickly get some bitcoins in your local currency.
The site can offer a range of ways to buy & sell bitcoins locally, but as always, they may range in trustworthiness. If you are worried, using a Bitcoin Exchange or web wallet service may be better.
A bitcoin exchange allows you to buy and sell Bitcoin in your local currency, as well as utilize a wide range of other transaction & speculation services for more advanced enthusiasts, traders, and investors. Due to security and government regulations concerning money laundering there is a short account verification process that new users are required to participate in for most exchanges.
Why use exchanges? Your Bitcoins are secure with a trusted and established exchange, and you can access more advanced trading features. However, exchanges are subject to more government regulation, and laws regarding Bitcoin have not yet been clarified in most markets. Also account verification means less account privacy.
Top 8 Bitcoin exchanges as ranked by Bitcoincharts.com
A bitcoin web wallet is a tool that allows you to send & receive bitcoins. While some have more advanced features, they are not as in-depth as bitcoin exchanges and are designed as a way to send, receive, and manage Bitcoins much like a bank account. This also means that you should choose your web wallet like you would choose your bank.
Why use a Web wallet? Unlike desktop wallets, as the wallet is online you don't need to download the blockchain locally, freeing up space and CPU power on your PC. However, it's important to stay updated with your wallet service to be sure that they are operating legitimately. The vast majority are, but it's important to be aware.
A desktop wallet can be a more secure way of storing your bitcoins than a web wallet because the wallet is stored on your own computer. You can send, receive, and store your Bitcoins like an online wallet. A desktop wallet can also be encrypted, copied to multiple devices (such as USB sticks), and backed-up for security.
Why use a Desktop Wallet? More control and privacy in managing your funds. However, you must download and continually update the blockchain to perform transactions, which can take up a lot of hard drive space and CPU power, not to mention a long time to download.
Bitcoin-Qt is the original Bitcoin client and it builds the backbone of the network. It offers the highest levels of security, privacy, and stability. However it has fewer features and it takes a lot of space and memory.
MultiBit is a lightweight client that focuses on being fast and easy to use. It synchronizes with the network and is ready to use in minutes. MultiBit also supports many languages. It is a good choice for non-technical users.
Armory is an advanced Bitcoin client that runs on top of Bitcoin-Qt. Expanding its features for Bitcoin power users. It offers many backup and encryption features, and it allows secure cold-storage on offline computers.
Electrum's focus is speed and simplicity, with low resource usage. It uses remote servers that handle the most complicated parts of the Bitcoin system, and it allows you to recover your wallet from a secret phrase.
Mobile wallets allow you to bring Bitcoin with you in your pocket. You can exchange coins easily and pay in physical stores by scanning a QR code or using NFC tap to pay.
Why use a Mobile Wallet? For ease of use when making payments in physical stores, Mobile Wallets are your best choice. However, they are not inherently very secure, so use with caution.
Bitcoin Wallet is a lightweight mobile client for Android and BlackBerry OS. This client does not need to be associated with any online service to work. It is compatible with QR code scanning and NFC.
Blockchain.info is an hybrid web wallet for mobiles. It is also available for iPhone in a restricted mode to fit Apple policies. It includes many blockchain.info features like web wallet backup.
Coinbase is a web wallet service that aims to be the easiest to use. It also provides an Android web wallet app, merchant tools and integration with US bank accounts to buy and sell bitcoins.
A bitcoin wallet address shortener, useful because wallet addresses are quite long.
Bitcoin mining at a technical level is as simple as running mining software on a range of devices, from your mobile phone to expensive dedicated hardware. Most serious Bitcoin mining is done by mining pools, with groups of people forming to pool their hardware power to increase the speed at which they can mine.
The software just solves the increasingly complex mathematical problems that are the mechanism for increasing the number of Bitcoins in circulation. Bitcoin mining is an essential part of the Bitcoin system, but it is certainly not your ticket to get rich overnight.
(list of mining software)
(list of pools)
While Bitcoin is an accountable and decentralised currency, it is up to you to keep your Bitcoins safe, especially as Bitcoin transactions are by design non-refundable.
If that sounds daunting, don't worry – these guides and websites will shed some light on wallet security and delve a little deeper into the techniques used to keep the Bitcoin blockchain secure.