In the age of cryptographic blockchain replacing physical bank vaults, security measures have also been decentralized, placed into the hands of the individual user. Master passwords, recovery phrases, hardware wallets, and biometric security keys have become common practice 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 Trezor can hold double that number — 24 words.
If the worst-case scenarios materialize — your hardware wallet breaks down or is lost — a recovery phrase makes sure 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. 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 Trezor have developed a recovery phrase checker function inside the Trezor Wallet so you can check if your recovery phrase is correct.
RECOVERY PHRASE CHECK
In the Trezor Wallet user interface, go to device settings by clicking on your device’s name, and then select Advanced > Check recovery seed. Follow the instructions, and in the end, the device will tell you the status of your recovery seed. Here you can check that your seed is correct, or you’ll know if you need to generate a new one.
Pro tip for Trezor One users: Use the Advanced Recovery option. Now is an excellent time to try a method of device recovery that guarantees your recovery seed cannot be revealed to hackers. Advanced Recovery doesn’t reveal any of your seed words to the computer, making it safer to use.
(Image source: Trezor)
WHAT IS “CHECK RECOVERY SEED”?
“Check recovery seed” is a fancy name for dry-run recovery.
It’s a simple and straightforward process. By starting the verification process, you’re telling the device that you want to run the recovery process, but that you do not want the device to remember the seed. Instead, the device compares the seed saved in its storage and the seed you have just “recovered,” and the result of this comparison is sent to the Wallet interface. If the seeds match, Trezor Wallet will tell you your backup is okay. If it is not the same, then the Wallet will show you an error.
Please note that the dry-run is precisely the same as the normal recovery process. You should only trust the information and instructions displayed on the screen of your Trezor device. The external interface will never initialise the recovery process without your physical confirmation. The order of the words to be entered is never dictated by the interface (your browser or third-party software).
You can use the standard shuffled entry on the computer, or use the advanced recovery process if you have a Trezor One. Trezor Model T users will enter the seed words on the device’s touchscreen.
If the Wallet interface tells you your seed matches, then you can rest easy, knowing you have your backup.
If the Wallet displays an error, we strongly recommend moving all your coins to a new wallet with a new seed. Move your coins to a different wallet first, wipe your device, and then set it up again. Write down the new recovery seed and then send your coins back to the newly set up Trezor.
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 ink can and does fade or 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.