Seed Phrase or Mnemonic Phrase: What You Need to Know About It

Nina Ivkova
06.09.2019

 

Did you know that the importance of a seed phrase is often underestimated?

 

When users create a Bitcoin wallet, they are assigned a mnemonic phrase. But what they do next determines whether they will be able to recover access to a wallet or not. As they do not understand how important this phrase is, they often do not take it seriously.

Making a screenshot and storing it on your smartphone is not enough - it is even risky. With the deletion of the photo, you will lose access to their wallet, as the seed phrase is like Bitcoin private key and the only means of getting access to the wallet.

We intend to provide you with the most essential information regarding the mnemonic phrase, disclose why it is important, and how to store it securely.

 

What Is Seed Phrase or Mnemonic Phrase?

Let’s start with the basics and dive deeper into the concept of a mnemonic phrase.

Seed phrase is known under different names. You may see different words such as seed recovery phrase, backup seed phrase, mnemonic phrase, mnemonic recovery phrase or mnemonic seed. All these words have the same meaning. The mnemonic phrase is represented as the list of words that contain all the information that is needed for Bitcoin wallet recovery. The phrase often contains of 12 (sometimes 14, 18 or 25) unique words. It is important to follow the sequence of these words, otherwise the access will be lost.  

A mnemonic phrase may look just like presented below:

Inspire extra meat record november void game boy alley mimic other ten

 

 

You should be aware that just remembering the words is not enough as the word order is vital.

Mnemonic phrase can be explained in the following way. Every wallet software has a list of words. Each world is assigned to number, so the mnemonic phrase is just like a Bitcoin private key. The security of the mnemonic phrase is no less sufficient than the security of a private key. It uses the BIP39 standard that contains 2048 words. If you have a 12-word mnemonic phrase, the possible number of combinations is huge. The seed phrase has 128 bits of security. 

Such a two-factor mnemonic phrase works on the principle “something you have + something you know.” In simple words, a Bitcoin wallet creates a mnemonic phrase (something you have) and asks the user to protect with a password (something you know). For the recovery of such a wallet, both the mnemonic phrase and extension word are required.

 

How to Store a Mnemonic Phrase Securely

So, how can you store a mnemonic phrase securely? This question often enters the minds of crypto enthusiasts who want to ensure the safety of Bitcoins and being able to restore access to a Bitcoin wallet at any time.

Usually, two major types of Mnemonic phrase storage are recommended.

  1. Digital storage

One of the available options is to copy the mnemonic phrase into a file and encrypt it with encryption software. This approach is associated with some risks, as the file may be deleted or stolen and decrypted.

  1. Analog storage

This type of storage can be approached in two different ways.

You can write the mnemonic phrase down on a piece of paper, cut it down into a few parts and store it at different storages. This method of storage is quite popular - even Winklevoss twins  use it to keep their mnemonic phrases secure is such a way. You can easily restore access to your Bitcoins merely with your mnemonic phrase. If you know it, you can access your coins from any computer with almost any Bitcoin wallet. All you need to do is to remember the words and the consequence in which they are presented to you.

As per our opinion, the best choice is to simultaneously use these two types of approaches. The only requirement is not to let anyone get access to your seed phrase. As long as you are the only person who knows it, your cryptocurrency will be yours..

Mnemonic phrases are a reliable way of Bitcoin storage and backup. You can make a screenshot of your seed, print it and put in different places. After this process it is better to delete the photo, because there is a risk someone can hack you photo base. The vast majority of famous wallets (like Coinbase) utilize it to protect accounts of its users, but it is also risky, because it means those wallets are custodial and all the data is stored on their servers, so we do not recommend such wallets. 

The users are waiting for the new opportunity (and it is in progress), in which the seed phrase must be confirmed by several people, or the phrase is kept by a third trusted party, such as large financial consulting or legal companies that can confirm your access after providing them with documents or other supporting documents.


 

The Importance of a Seed Phrase: Final Thoughts

There is no doubt that the importance of a mnemonic phrase is immense. Securing your wallet is one of the most important things you need to address as a cryptocurrency owner. How you approach the task, depends only on you and preferred methods of mnemonic phrase storage. Handle the subject with all due accountability as it determines whether you will be able to access your assets when the need arises.


 

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