Known Issues: Electrum

In theory, it would be possible to do everything described in this guide using Electrum instead of Specter-Desktop. However, there are a number of reasons we’re using Specter-Desktop instead.

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Electrum Has a Very Slow Release Schedule

This may be due to the fact that it’s a large project used for many different things (lightning network, coin selection, hardware wallet integration, multisig, validating block headers, etc.), or its nonstandard use of git (it operates with a “dirty” master branch). For example, a new release from version 3.3.8 to 4.0.0b0 took nearly a year to release! For mission-critical security software, we require a regular release schedule.

Limited BIP39 Support

Electrum has limited support for BIP39 and is openly considering dropping it altogether. Users cannot create BIP39 seeds, and importing them is difficult; it requires knowing to toggle hidden checkboxes and ignoring scary user prompts with inaccurate security warnings. This is confusing for hardware wallet users, as BIP39 is the universal standard that almost all hardware wallets use.

Default Government Spying

Using Electrum in the standard way is convenient, but risks revealing which addresses are yours to anonymous/volunteer SPV servers on the internet. These volunteer servers are likely to be run by blockchain surveillance companies like Chainalysis. Dishonest SPV servers can also attempt to trick SPV clients into following a version of the blockchain that is invalid if it has more Proof of Work. While it is possible to run your own Electrum Server (on top of your own Bitcoin Core node), it is easier to run your own Bitcoin Core node only, which is all that Specter-Desktop requires.

Confusing UX

Electrum’s UX is full of pitfalls that will technically not cause loss of funds but can easily confuse non-expert users who may then make mistakes leading to loss of funds. Specter-Desktop’s UX is already much better than Electrum and is improving rapidly.