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What Happens if I Lose My Ledger?

Read 4 min
Key Takeaways:
— Losing your Ledger Nano is nobody’s idea of fun – but knowing what to do, and what’s at stake if you do, will give you peace of mind.

— Nobody except you can access that device – this is the function of the PIN code, which only you know.

— And even without your Nano, you can still access, control and restore your accounts – as long as you’ve stored your recovery phrase securely!

— Back-up security if built into the Ledger set-up process, so even if the worst happens, your crypto is still completely safe – and accessible to you.

The Ledger Nano is your closest friend if you’re a crypto owner, no matter what you’re doing with your assets.

Whether you’re a hardcore HODLer, a bullish DeFi explorer or an NFT fanatic, your Ledger Nano is where you’ll manage some of the most important elements of your life. That’s because it safeguards the all-important private keys that give you control of your precious blockchain assets. In short, this device will be a hugely important part of your life. 

But hey – we’re all human, and mistakes are a part of life. So what happens if you lose your Nano, or have it stolen? Does your crypto disappear with the device? Can someone else can access your private keys?

These are both great – and very logical – questions. In this article, we explain exactly what happens if you ever lose your Ledger Nano, and how to make sure you stay secure and in control no matter what. And the good news is: you have very little to worry about.

Don’t you just love it when things are simple?!

What to do if You Lose your Ledger Nano

You’re traveling across the country and, of course, you’ve brought your Nano – just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean you won’t be transacting, right?!

But as you reach into your bag one day, you realise – it’s gone! After searching high and low, you resign yourself to the fact that the device is lost, and you don’t count on getting it back. You begin to panic, wondering if your crypto is still safe where you left it – and how you’ll ever access it again yourself without your Nano.

So let’s address each point in turn.

1) Can someone else access my crypto using my Nano?

Let’s get one thing out of the way before we begin – your crypto is not in your Nano. It simply stores the private keys for your various blockchain addresses, while the crypto itself is always on the blockchain.

The natural question to ask after this is – can somebody access my private keys if they find my device? The short answer is: no.

Let’s take a step back.

Your Set-Up Process is Important

Remember when you first got your Ledger Nano? You would have run through a set-up process, and part of that process is setting your very own PIN code for the device. This PIN code needs to be entered each time you use the device in order to unlock it, meaning that nobody except you can use the device or access anything on it.

The PIN code is a unique part of the Ledger Security infrastructure because it’s the only part you choose by yourself – this is YOUR chance to define your own level of security, and you can do that by using a PIN of up to 8 digits to guarantee that only you can ever access the device.

Have you any idea how difficult it would be to guess an 8-digit code correctly? Here’s a clue – the chances are roughly 1 in 100 million. And unfortunately for whoever gets hold of your Nano, they only have three tries at guessing before the device “bricks” or automatically de-activates, wiping all existing data from the device.

Your best move? Use that opportunity at the very beginning of your journey (or ANY time, check out this tutorial on how to reset your PIN) to choose a PIN code that gives maximum security – and enjoy your peace of mind. It means that not even the most persistent scammer can access your crypto if you lose your Nano.

2) If the Nano’s gone, how will I access my crypto?

The other big question that everyone asks if they’re unlucky enough to lose their device is how they will access their crypto, and whether it’s gone for good – no keys means no coins, right?! 

Don’t panic – you haven’t lost your coins and tokens. Crypto is all about freedom, and that means that nobody – not even your wallet provider – can stand between you and your blockchain assets. 

Recovery Phrase: Your All Important Back-Up

Your crypto autonomy is protected by a really clever concept, called your recovery phrase or seed phrase. When you first set up your wallet, you would have seen 24 words flash up on the screen of the device, and you would have been prompted to note them down in order, and keep them safe. 

These words are a mnemonic representation of all the private keys you will ever secure on that device. So for example, if you have assets at three blockchain addresses (and all their private keys are on the device) your recovery phrase will represent all three of those keys; if you have assets at 25 different blockchain addresses and their keys are all secured on your device, the phrase will represent all 25 of those keys. No matter what, this phrase = your private keys.

Whatever is secured on that device, your access to all of it is boiled down into this one phrase, meaning that even without the device itself, you can still access everything you own – as long as you have stored this phrase safely. 

Back to our scenario: if you lose your device, you can simply enter your 24 words into a new hardware wallet, and you’ll recover absolutely everything that was secured on your lost device.

Taking responsibility for your recovery phrase is one of the most important considerations you’ll have as a crypto owner – so we recommend you have a read through our essential tips in order to make sure you’re doing that safely. If you don’t have that phrase, or you’ve noted it down wrong – your crypto really is gone. Attention to detail is your friend here.

The Best Way to Back Up your Nano

Beyond setting yourself up for success with your PIN code and recovery phrase management, there’s another pretty simple way to back up your device in case it ever gets stolen – that’s to use a designated back-up device.

How does a Back-up Device Work?

Using a back-up Nano is the easiest and most effective way of insuring yourself against loss and theft of your main device. 

Doing this is easy: simply recover your existing device on a second back-up Nano, by selecting “restore device” as you set it up, and entering your existing 24 words. This will recover all of your existing crypto accounts on this second device, making it an exact replica of your main one, complete with every one of your accounts. With this done, you can then store your back-up wallet in a safe place and forget about it; if you ever lose your main device, no problem – simply go get your back-up, and voila! You’re right back in the driving seat with your crypto.

This is not to say you shouldn’t store your 24 words safely – this is still absolutely essential to you, in order to have unfettered access to your crypto or recover your accounts no matter what. But having both your words, and a fully functional back-up device, means that no matter what happens, nothing can come between you and your crypto.

Losing Your Nano Does Not Mean Losing your Crypto

So there you have it – lost wallet? No problem! Losing your Ledger device does not mean losing your crypto! Your PIN – which only you can ever know – prevents anyone else from using the device, while your securely stored recovery phrase keeps you linked with your precious blockchain addresses, so you can access your accounts no matter what.

Nobody can access your crypto – and you still can.

Losing your hardware wallet is nobody’s idea of fun. But staying secure is not about hoping for the best – it’s about making sure you’re covered even when the worst happens. And with Ledger hardware wallets, that security is built into the user design.

So go forth, be mobile, play, trade, buy, sell and travel with your Ledger Nano – with a little attention to detail, your crypto security is watertight, no matter what.

Knowledge is power

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