In the age of cryptographic blockchain replacing physical bank vaults, security measures have also been decentralized, and placed into the hands of the individual user. Master passwords, recovery phrases, hardware wallets, and biometric security keys have become common practices as more people store their wealth in digital assets.
In the cryptocurrency world, a Recovery Phrase — interchangeable with Seed Phrase — unlocks your digital vault just as a master password would unlock all the passwords for a password manager app. While web-based wallets like the popular MetaMask, accounts for 12 words within its recovery phrase, some hardware wallets like Ledger can hold double that number — 24 words.
If the worst-case scenarios materialise — your hardware wallet breaks down or is lost — a recovery phrase ensures all of your assets are retrievable. It is often recommended that you use non-digital technology to store your recovery phrase — write it down on a piece of paper placed in a waterproof container/envelope, safely hidden out of sight. A Billfodl or Cryptotag are other great ways to manage your recovery phrase.
Certainly, not copy-pasted inside a .txt file that is uploaded to a cloud storage platform or even taking a backup image of your words and storing it on your smartphone - this is BIG no-no! While that may be convenient, it would render the purpose of having a hardware wallet irrelevant. However, before you commit to hiding your non-digital recovery phrase, it would be wise to double-check its accuracy.
Thankfully, the team at Ledger have developed a recovery phrase checker function so you can check if your recovery phrase is correct!
STEP ONE: INSTAL RECOVERY CHECK
- Open the Manager in Ledger Live.
- Connect and unlock your Ledger device. If you have configured a passphrase activated by a secondary PIN code, use the regular PIN code to unlock the device.
- If asked, allow the manager on your device.
- Find Recovery Check in the app catalogue.
- Click the Install button of the app.
- An installation window appears.
- Your device will display Processing...
- The app installation is confirmed.
STEP TWO: START RECOVERY CHECK
- Connect and unlock your device.
- Navigate to Recovery Check and press both buttons to open it.
- Press both buttons to start the check.
- Press the right button to choose the length of your recovery phrase (12, 18 or 24 words).
- Press both buttons to confirm.
STEP THREE: CHECK YOUR RECOVERY PHRASE
- Choose the first letter of Word #1 by pressing the right or left button. Press both buttons to select the letter.
- Select the second letter of Word #1. Repeat until the device shows suggested words to choose from.
- Choose Word #1 from the suggested words. Press both buttons to select it.
- Repeat the process for each word of your recovery phrase.
- Phrase is correct is displayed if you've correctly saved your recovery phrase.
- Use the Manager to uninstall the app. The app is particularly big and there is no use in keeping on your device once your recovery phrase has been checked.
INCORRECT RECOVERY PHRASE?
- Ensure you did not run Recovery Check with a passphrase enabled.
- Make sure the correct recovery phrase length is selected. Enter all words of a recovery phrase.
- Verify that the order of the words entered on the device matches the order written on your Recovery sheet.
- Check that all the words of your recovery phrase are on the BIP39 word list.
It can be a good idea to periodically check that your recovery phrase is still accessible and readable. If storing on a simple piece of paper, it’s worth being aware that paper can become difficult to read after some time. Once you lose your recovery phrase, you only have your hardware wallet to rely on which can be a dangerous place to be in! Again, we highly recommend storing your recovery phrase on a storage device like the Billfodl.