What If I Lose My Ledger Nano S?

You might have heard that one of the best ways to secure your crypto assets is to invest in a hardware wallet. Hardware wallets are considered the pinnacle of secure storage for crypto assets, with good reason. While online wallets and software wallets are vulnerable to hackers, hardware wallets keep your digital assets offline and thus safe from such threats.

However, there is always a chance you can misplace, lose, or damage your hardware wallet. In fact, this has caused a good amount of grief to many cryptocurrency owners, especially in the early days of Bitcoin. This is no longer the case, as hardware wallet producers have added precautions you can take in such situations. Thanks to a security mechanism known as recovery phrases, or recovery seeds, your cryptocurrency remains accessible to you, even if your Ledger device is lost.

So let’s take a look at how hardware wallets secure your crypto assets and how you can use seed phrases to do it, even if you lose or damage your Ledger Nano S device.

What Is a Hardware Wallet?

Let’s start with a short summary of what hardware wallets are and how they work. As you may already know, digital assets like cryptocurrencies exist as data on blockchains that are peer-to-peer networks. When you buy or trade cryptocurrencies, you essentially change the blockchain data that communicates you have sent x amount of assets to the y address. That means cryptocurrencies are not actually stored anywhere but on the blockchain. So what is the purpose of crypto wallets?

USB type hardware crypto wallet on white background

Well, crypto wallets allow us to interact with the blockchain to trade and withdraw our assets. A crypto wallet, in other words, is like a gateway to the blockchain. When you set up a new wallet, you receive a set of keys that allow you to interact with the blockchain. These are known as public keys and private keys. Your public key generates wallet addresses people can use to send you cryptocurrencies. 

On the other hand, your private key allows you to control your crypto assets and make transactions. Your private key is like a passphrase that proves your ownership of the funds in your crypto wallet. To put it simply, that’s how you sign in to the blockchain.

Hardware wallets store your private keys in USB-like devices. Since they are stored offline, your keys can’t be stolen by hackers and scammers, as long as you don’t share them with anyone. Even when you connect your hardware wallet to your computer to make transactions, your crypto assets remain safe. As such, hardware wallets are considered one of the most secure ways of storing your private keys.

What Are Recovery Phrases?

When you are setting up a new hardware wallet, for example, a Ledger Nano S or Ledger Nano X, your device creates a unique recovery sheet. The recovery sheet is a list of 24 words. These 24 words are your recovery phrases, a mnemonic device to derive your private keys in case you lose your wallet access.

Once you generate a 24-word recovery phrase, you must write them down and keep them in a secure place. If you lose or damage your Ledger device, you can use the word seed to access your cryptocurrency.

The 24-word recovery phrase is your only way of backing up your wallet, so the importance of keeping your seed phrase safe can’t be understated. The seed phrase allows you to access your crypto assets even when you can’t access your hardware device. Thus, it’s imperative to make sure you copy the words exactly as they are, in the correct order, and with no errors. 

What If I Lose My Ledger Nano S?

If you lose your Ledger Nano S, you can still access your crypto assets with your recovery phrase. You can use any software or hardware wallet that supports 24-word recovery phrases to access your funds.

Ledger Nano S product

You can also use the recovery phrase to clone your wallet to another device. For example, if you decide to upgrade from Ledger Nano S to Ledger Nano X, you can use your recovery phrase to clone your existing wallet to your new device. You can also clone your wallet account to a different hardware or software model, as long as they are a BIP39 compatible wallet. You can use the seed phrase to clone your wallet to a hardware Trezor wallet or software wallets like Coinomi or Jaxx.

You should make sure the wallet you are cloning your accounts to supports all the crypto assets in your portfolio. Hardware wallets support a large number of crypto assets, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), Dogecoin (DOGE), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), as well as ERC20 tokens, and many other altcoins. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure all your assets can be reached from the new wallet you set up with your recovery phrase.

For example, users report trouble reaching their Cardano (ADA) balance when swapping from Ledger to Trezor. Therefore, always check whether the new wallet provides support for your crypto assets.

How to Restore Your Funds if You Lose Your Ledger Nano S?

Recovering your funds when you lose your Ledger wallet is pretty easy, as long as you have your recovery phrases. 

First, decide on which wallet you want to use to recover your assets. You can purchase another Ledger device or use a software or hardware wallet you are already familiar with. 

Each wallet has its own method for recovering your funds through seed phrases. If you want to use a new Ledger device, you can simply follow these steps:

  1. Open the Ledger Live app on your computer.
  2. Connect your new Ledger Nano S to your computer.
  3. Select Restore from recovery phrase
  4. Enter a new PIN Code
  5. Enter your recovery phrase

Once you complete these steps, you can easily access your funds from your new Ledger device. If you are using a different wallet, check out their instructions for using recovery phrases. You can also follow the steps outlined in the recovery setup guide in Ledger Live.

Can I Restore My Ledger Nano X Wallet With a Recovery Phrase?

Almost all crypto wallets in the market have recovery seed phrases, and you can use the seed phrase to access your funds. The funds in your Ledger Nano X can be restored from seed phrases as well. The same goes for Trezor and Keepkey hardware wallets, as well as software wallets like Electrum or MyCelium wallet. 

However, you should keep in mind that using a software wallet to store your recovery phrases can be dangerous, as these wallets can be compromised through your computer’s internet connection. Using another hardware wallet is the most secure option.

How Do You Keep Recover Phrases Secure?

Keep in mind that anyone who has the recovery phrase for your wallet can access your crypto assets. Therefore, it’s vital not to share your recovery phrases with anyone. There are a lot of scammers claiming they are working for Ledger and other wallet companies on the internet who ask people for their recovery seed phrases to help them recover their funds. Beware that no Ledger employee will ever ask you for your seed phrase.

Seed phrase on wood blocks with physical bitcoin on background

Since your computer and any other internet-connected device are vulnerable to hackers, it’s not a good idea to keep your recovery sheet on your device. You should also refrain from taking a picture of your recovery sheet, as your phone can be stolen or lost. The best way to protect your recovery phrases is to write them down, double-check for any errors or spelling mistakes, and store your paper copy in a safe location, like a bank safe or a safety deposit box.

If you lose your recovery sheet, immediately move your crypto assets to a new wallet.

A Few Words Before You Go…

Hardware wallets are considered the most secure way of keeping your crypto assets secure. However, you may still lose or damage your hardware device. Thankfully, hardware wallets will generate a recovery phrase when you first set them up. In case of an emergency, you can use the recovery seed phrase of your wallet to recover your assets. 

If you lose your Ledger Nano S, simply pick a BIP39 wallet and follow the procedure to recover your funds. As long as you have your seed phrase, you can easily access your cryptocurrency. If you lose your recovery phrases, it may not be possible to recover your assets. As a last option, you can try jogging your memory by looking at a list of possible words available on GitHub. However, this would be pretty hard as there are over 2000 words in the list. So be cautious and don’t take risks with your seed phrase, and keep it at a safe location.