When your software wallet is installed, it creates the wallet.dat file that holds the data that relates to your personal bitcoin wallet.
To find out how to get a software wallet, visit Bitcoin.org and click the Get started with Bitcoin link.
The bitcoin software wallet is open source (meaning that the source code for the software is fully accessible by anyone who wishes to see the code). Open source ensures transparency and allows users to check the source code to ensure it contains no malware or other suspicious code that could damage your computer or jeopardize your security. It also means, if you're a bit of a technical whiz kid, you can compile applications such as Bitcoin Core wallet yourself (although we're not the computer experts to ask about this).
Syncing your walletTo ensure that your software wallet is giving you the most up-to-date information about your account, you should sync (technical speak for a refresh and update) it on a regular basis. Different computers and tablets perform this sync in their own way, so be sure to check out how to sync a program on your device.
When you first download and install the Bitcoin Core software client — which you'll need to download to use a software wallet — the installation may take a few days because it needs to download the history of every transaction ever created from 2009 to the very latest transaction.
Every time you close the wallet either with a computer shutdown or by closing the application, remember to sync again next time you open the application.
Securing your walletThe Bitcoin Core client allows you to encrypt a password — which we recommend you do, because with encryption, if somebody got their hands on your hard drive, they would need to know the password to get access to your bitcoins. And if you've set a hard-to-guess password, you can rest assured that your bitcoins are as safe as can be.
Every time you send bitcoins from the wallet, you're asked for the password you used to secure the wallet, so make sure you set a memorable one.