Materials to Safely Store Your Seed Phrase
So that’s it. “You are your own bank”. You created an account using a software wallet, or much better you got yourself a hardware wallet.
The app asks you to “store your seed phrase somewhere safe” and recommend “never to store it on a digital device”. Many questions popup in your head: “where?”, “how?”… but then you think “F*** it, I’ll just write it on that stupid piece of paper and worry about it later”.
I wish someone had guided you dear newcomer! Here are a few tips I wish I had known when I started my journey.
This ‘seed phrase’ is also known as ’24 words’, ‘seed phrase backup’, ‘backup phrase’, ‘seed backup’, ‘mnemonic’, ‘mnemonic code’, ‘recovery phrase’, ‘secret recovery phrase’… and many other similar names.
A Word Of Caution Regarding Software Wallets
You can consider software wallets as toys. Why? Because they are fairly easy to hack. For instance, all our computer are inflected with malware, some more than others. If your machine contains a single one that’s powerful enough to extract your 24 words from your wallet then you’re done. And that’s only one of the many ways to hack your software wallet, brute forcing your software wallet to extract your 24 words is also fairly simple.
Ever downloaded torrent files? Used someone’s USB stick? Downloaded third party software? etc? Yes, you should worry.
Scale security according to capital at risk
The best thing you can do is to use a software wallet for a fraction of your funds and a hardware wallet for the majority of your funds.
Paper Inside Plastic Zip Bag = Waterproof Paper
What was a temporary solution often becomes permanent. How about protecting that precious paper from damp and water by putting it into an inexpensive zipper poly bag? 😱
Something like that amazon.com/dp/B085TL858G/.
Kudos to Dan for the tip!
Some people also like fireproof documents holders (or boxes).
Fun Stuff: Invisible UV Pen
The ink is invisible unless you light it with a UV light. See an example product on amazon.com/dp/B07CPKYJNC. This can be convenient if you store your seed on paper somewhere mildly safe.
Time passes, you have much more funds kept safe by your wallet but your still store your seed on a piece of paper in your cupboard at home. What to do?
First, you must figure out a better location(s) to store your seed. Maybe split it in several pieces? What if it was written on something so durable you could even bury one part in your parents’ garden? This leads to the next point…
You must write it on a better medium: something more durable/hard-to-destroy (water resistant, fire resistant…), a common solution is to engrave the seed on metal plates.
Metal Plates And Engravers
Ready Made Metal Plates
Titanium is known to be stronger than stainless steel and copper.
Pick it thick enough so that it is very hard to bend, at least 3mm.
DIY Metal Plates
In short: plates that were not specifically made for writing your seed, but can be used for that.
In many countries, the “ready made metal plates to write your seed” can be hard to find and/or expensive. Save yourself time and cash: use something else.
Something like this: amazon.com/dp/B07D7VV7DK/, or on the Spanish Amazon amazon.es/gp/product/B08BZGP529/
Engraving Tools for Metal Plates
Engraving tools are also known as “rotary tools”.
Stamps: I do not like stamps as when softer than the plate, they’ll easily get damaged (flattened) and become unusable. Additionally in some countries it can be difficult to have access to the required stamps, rotary tools are easier to find.
Where To Store Your Seed Phrase?
This section is currently being reviewed. Many evangelists consider splitting seed phrases in two as unsafe because it hugely reduces the security if someone has access to one of the two parts, and not by half but by a lot more.
Storage location is actually a harder question than storage medium in my opinion. This is a common solutions I came across:
Split your seed phrase in several parts and put each part in a different location
Regarding locations, sky is the limit, the more creative the better.
Some people also use bank safe as a storage location. Quite ironic, but hey, why not.
Naturally, you may want to do several copies of your seed phrase. For instance, you could have one copy stored near your home while another one much further (i.e. near a family member’s home).
As you may have noticed, things can get quite tricky: several copies of the seed phrase, each copy possibly split into several parts and each part in a different location. It might be time to draw a treasure map!
Do you really think we can get 8 Billion people to use this system? Despite my passion and dedication when onboarding 20+ friends to web3, it’s been a difficult experience to say the least.
Self-custodial wallets remain a radical tool that requires a lot of efforts and skills to stay safe. Alternatives have a bright future ahead.
Only 5 million Ledger wallets have ever been sold and some people have multiple devices. Assuming that we have 4 million Ledger wallet owners, that’s only 0.05% of the planet population owning a Ledger.
Ledger is the by far the leading firm for hardware wallets, let’s assume they have 50% of the market share. That’d mean 0.1% of the population own a hardware wallet.
Assuming that only 10% of these owners store their seed safely (using similar methods to described in the above article), that’s 0.01% of the planet population.
Right, “we’re still early”.
If you enjoyed reading this article, feel free to say thank you by following me on twitter.