August 1st is almost upon us and the great Bitcoin “hard fork” is about to confuse the heck out of the casual cryptocurrency observer. Here’s what you should know.

Quite simply, if you are using an exchange that is explicitly in support of the Bitcoin Cash or you control your own private keys then you are fine. If you are keeping your bitcoin on an exchange, like Coinbase, that does not support Bitcoin Cash, then you should transfer your bitcoin immediately unless you don’t want to deal in Bitcoin Cash. It is a good idea to keep your own private keys regardless so this is a good time to get your coins off of any exchange you might have used in the past.

If you need further detail head over to Coindesk for more up-to-date info.

Which wallet?

The bottom line in any case is simple: you need to control your own keys.

I am using a Trezor hardware wallet and Electrum to hold the minimal amount of BTC for which I’m responsible. Your results may vary and I don’t actively endorse either of these products. The cynic in me doesn’t trust any tool or exchange.

The following shows how to create and send your BTC to an Electrum wallet on your computer. Keep track of your seed, friends. Please be careful. Send test amounts before you send your full amount.

But I’m still afraid
You should be. This shows a healthy respect for a technology whose hallmarks are transparent obfuscation and active campaigns of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD). If you’ve put your life savings into Bitcoin then I hope you’ve been following this far more closely than a single post the day before the fork. If you own one or two please move your Bitcoins to a local wallet and wait it out.