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What Happens If I Lose My Ledger?

Read 4 min
— Losing your Ledger device 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 Ledger Device 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.

Whether you’re a hardcore HODLer, a bullish DeFi explorer or an NFT fanatic, your Ledger 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 Ledger device? Or worse, what if it is stolen? You might think your crypto disappears with the device or perhaps, that someone else could access your private keys.

Of course, these are potentially significant things to worry about. However, you’re not completely stuck without your device. In this article, we explain exactly what happens if you ever lose your Ledger Device. Plus, you’ll know how t stay secure and in control no matter what. The good news is: you have very little to worry about.

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

What Happens If I Lose My Ledger Device?

You’re traveling across the country and, of course, you’ve brought your Ledger device. 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. How will you access your crypto again without your device?

Let’s get one thing out of the way before we begin though: Your crypto is not stored on or in your Ledger device. Your device simply stores the private keys for your various blockchain addresses. The crypto itself is always on the blockchain, associated with the address you control.

So, your crypto is not “lost”, even when your Ledger is.

If Someone Steals My Ledger, Can They Access My Crypto?

In short, no. No thief should have access to your crypto even if they have the device. That’s as long as you have set up everything correctly. The first barrier for a thief is simple. Ledger devices use a PINcode.

Ledger Devices Have a PIN Code

Remember when you first got your Ledger Device? You would have run through a set-up process, and part of that process is setting your very own PIN code. It is a unique part of the Ledger Security infrastructure. To unlock the device, you must enter the PIN code each time. Ledger allows you to make your PIN up to 8 digits, ensuring that nobody except you can use the device or access anything on it.

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.

Plus, that’s not the only barrier for thieves. Anyone trying to guess your PIN will only have three attempts. Following the third attempt, the device “bricks” or automatically de-activates, wiping all existing data from the device.

Beyond that, there are a few ways to make sure you create the most secure PIN possible. But that’s down to you. To understand more, check out this tutorial on how to change your Ledger PIN. But put simply, if you lose your Ledger, this PIN code will keep access to your crypto safeguarded.

How Do I Access My Crypto Without My Hardware Wallet?

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. 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

When you first set up a Ledger device, it will prompt you to write down a list of 24 words, a recovery phrase or seed phrase. These words are important to note down in order, and keep safe. Put simply, they are a mnemonic representation of all the private keys you will ever secure on that device. Think of them something like a back-up of your private keys.

For example, imagine you have assets at three different blockchain addresses you are managing with your Ledger device. The recovery phrase on your device will act as the shorthand for the three private keys for each address. If you are controlling 25 blockchain addresses with your device, then the recovery phrase represents the keys of all 25 addresses. Therefore, your assets are only as safe as this recovery phrase is.

Thus even without the device itself, you can still access your crypto, as long as you have stored this phrase safely. 

So, if you lose your device, you can simply enter your 24 words into a new hardware wallet. This will recover everything from your lost device.

Taking responsibility for your recovery phrase is one of the most important considerations you’ll have as a crypto owner. 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 Ledger Device

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. Simply, you can set up a back-up device.

How does a Back-up Device Work?

Using a back-up Ledger device 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 Ledger, by selecting “restore device”, then enter 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. From there, 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. All you have to do is 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. But having both your words, and a fully functional back-up device, means nothing can come between you and your crypto.

Losing Your Ledger Device Does Not Mean Losing your Crypto

So there you have it – did you lose your Ledger device? 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. Then, your recovery phrase keeps you linked with your precious blockchain addresses.

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 device – with a little attention to detail, your crypto security is watertight, no matter what.

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