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Author Topic: Question regarding hardware wallets  (Read 56 times)
HodorIsHodling
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December 30, 2017, 07:34:31 PM
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Supposed I had a hardware wallet and wanted to live in a place without internet and electricity for about 20-30 years, and then come back and retrieve my old funds from said wallet, what would be the best precautions to take now and how likely is it that I could still access the funds in such a case?

I'm asking because I just bought a Ledger Nano S, and I want to store a few coins in there and then wander off to Nepal/Tibet/India and become an itinerant monk. But in case I ever want to come back (let's say 20 or 40 years in the future), I want to be able to retrieve my old coins, which might be worth a lot by then.

So I set up my ledger, wrote down the 24-word seed on six pieces of paper, and added a passphrase (which I wrote down on a different piece of paper and which I also know by heart).
My plan is to give the recovery seed to some good friends and family members when I leave, and to remember the passphrase (and maybe also give it to a family member in written form)

So I think I should be able to recover everything on a new ledger device as long as I have the 24 words and the passphrase (after I enter the seed I have to "manually" add the passphrase on the new ledger device before my "real" wallet (with the funds) shows up, from what I understand).

But could I also recover the wallet if there were no more ledger devices on the planet? (Highly unlikely, but I still want to know)

Or would it be better/safer to find out what the private key of the wallet is (I read there are applications that tell you the private key when you provide the 24 words and the passphrase) and store that on paper and/or different flash drives (and give that to friends/family)? Or would that be unnecessary?

Also is there anything I stated incorrectly? (I might not have understood everything correctly ...)
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TryNinja
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December 30, 2017, 07:57:24 PM
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No one can know the future, so we can't say anything for sure. But for now, having the 24 words seed is everything you need to recover your wallet with or without a new device.

I'm asking because I just bought a Ledger Nano S, and I want to store a few coins in there and then wander off to Nepal/Tibet/India and become an itinerant monk. But in case I ever want to come back (let's say 20 or 40 years in the future), I want to be able to retrieve my old coins, which might be worth a lot by then.
Wow! That's actually pretty cool.

But could I also recover the wallet if there were no more ledger devices on the planet? (Highly unlikely, but I still want to know)
Yes. You can import your Ledger wallet into any software that has support for BIP 39/BIP 44 seeds. So having a Ledger device isn't necessary.

Or would it be better/safer to find out what the private key of the wallet is (I read there are applications that tell you the private key when you provide the 24 words and the passphrase) and store that on paper and different USB-Sticks (and give that to friends/family)? Or would that be unnecessary?
For now, this isn't necessary. But as I said, no one predict say what will happen in 20-30 years, right? Smiley

If in the future, there is still a way to get your private-keys derived from the seed, you won't need to do that. But if for any reason (I can't think of any), that's not possible anymore, then having the private-keys will save you.

In the end, it's up to you to decide if you want to manually get your private-keys and save them in a different paper/flash drive.

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December 31, 2017, 01:22:20 PM
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I've recently spent hours researching this same question. I've seen operating systems, file systems, LANs, device interfaces, and programming languages  constantly change. I'm not sure any devices nor software from today will still be useful decades from now.

If in the future, there is still a way to get your private-keys derived from the seed, you won't need to do that. But if for any reason (I can't think of any), that's not possible anymore, then having the private-keys will save you.

Lets assume today's hardware wallet companies are out of business and the world has moved on to BIP 939 seed generation. Presumably, BIP39 source code will still be available in some archive. I'm sure it could be updated and compiled to allow access to the old funds. Actually, considering the prevalence of this format seed, I'm sure someone will be maintaining a "legacy seed recovery" tool.
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January 01, 2018, 04:03:44 PM
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For your use-case a paper wallet would be better.

Who knows if/how your hardware wallet will work after 20 years. The device can break too. The main advantage of HW wallet is if you access your wallet often. then it makes sure your private keys are not accessible to hackers who might have gotten access to your computer.

Paper wallet is safest in your case. With it you can always get your private key. And btw. a paper wallet does not have to be on actual paper. You could eg. carve it on a piece of PVC and bury it somewhere. And make a treasure map of it   Grin

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January 02, 2018, 09:52:59 PM
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Books .... last hundreds or thousands of years.

Paper. Embroidered Cloth. Wood. Plastic. Aluminum. Steel. Titanium. Tungsten.

Not really in that order, but more or less that's the scale of things that last or resist corrosion or burning or melting.

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