Trying to find a great hiding spot for your seed phrase? Often it’s not as simple as it sounds. The hiding place you choose, besides being secure, should also be easy to access and remember.
Being a security manager, I know exactly how to avoid common places and conceal something the right way. Believe it or not, every home has some fairly safe hiding spots. You just have to find them.
When it comes to storing your recovery seed, you have to keep in mind 3 things:
- you must prevent any unauthorized person from gaining access to your seed phrase (so you have to find a highly uncommon and secure place),
- you must make sure it cannot be damaged by fire or water,
- and finally, you must remember where the hiding spot is.
In this article, I’ll give you some of my best tips so that you don’t have to worry about losing access to your crypto wallet (or any other account) ever again.
Trust me, the process of finding a great spot is well worth the invested time and will definitely pay off in the long run.
Storing the Recovery Phrase Offline (Paper, Metal, Flash Drive) vs. Online
If you are wondering if it’s a good idea to use a password-protected app (like Evernote) or cloud storage to keep your seed phrase safe, you’re not alone.
Storing seed words online, without doubt, has its own advantages: they’re available from anywhere in the world, and you don’t have to worry about loss and physical damage.
While these benefits may seem handy and alluring, they come at a great cost. Besides you, everyone else in the whole world has the opportunity to gain access to your online storage.
Remember: if someone gets your recovery words, they can easily recreate your wallet and do whatever they want with your funds.
I can’t stress enough: never ever store your recovery seed phrase online.
That includes any device that has access to the web (so forget your laptop as well). Security breaches and hacked accounts are as common as dirt and often you have no control over what happens to your data.
You should always store the recovery seed offline: this is the most secure solution out there. Period. You can simply write the phrases down on a piece of paper but I know many guys who took it one step further by engraving the seed words on a piece of metal.
You should always store the recovery phrase and all cryptocurrency assets (in a cold wallet) offline.
What About Keeping the Recovery Seed on a USB Drive?
In certain cases, storing the seed phase in a simple text file on a flash drive can be an acceptable solution.
However, keep in mind that you must use either a completely new USB storage or a properly formatted one. Also, you shouldn’t use it for anything else (and never connect it to a computer that’s online).
The biggest drawback of using a USB stick is that it might fail over time. Therefore, it’s a good idea to still have a paper backup as well.
Pro Tip: You can easily add another layer of protection to your flash drive backup by encrypting the data.
FYI – If you use a hardware wallet, such as Trezor or Ledger, you can further improve security by using passphrase encryption. This adds an extra custom phrase to the recovery seed. Then, you will need both to access your wallet, so make sure you don’t forget your passphrase.
Recovery Seed Phrase and Private Key – Storing Them the Right Way
Although they’re very similar concepts, there are some basic differences. The most important thing is that you do not want to share either your private key or your recovery seed with anyone else. If someone gets access to any of those, they’ll be able to spend your crypto funds immediately.
The private key and the recovery phrase basically have the same function: they give access to your funds in your wallet.
If someone has either the recovery phrase or the private-public key pair, they can recreate your wallet and get access to your crypto assets. While the private key in most cases is stored and saved in a file in a wallet, the recovery seed phrase should be hidden physically.
If you use a paper wallet (which I do not recommend at all), your private key is not stored in a file but printed on paper together with your bitcoin address (or whatever cryptocurrency you own). In this case, you want to hide both the paper wallet and the backup phrase physically.
The recovery mnemonic seed is basically just a set of several words (usually between 12 and 24) that serves as a master key: your software or hardware wallet translates it into a complex string that allows you to access your account.
In the case of bitcoin, the mnemonic words are pulled from a list, also called BIP39 (Bitcoin Improvement Proposal) wordlist. All bitcoin wallet seed phrases are easy to remember English words.
It’s essential to understand that if someone gets your recovery seed, they’ll immediately have access to your bitcoin or other cryptocurrency funds.
For this, they will need neither your actual device nor any login credentials. The seed phrase itself will give them access to all your data.
Now let’s move on, and check out some places where you can securely keep your secret recovery phrase.
1. At the Bottom of a Container Full of Ground Coffee
Who doesn’t have some coffee at home? Hiding the seed phrase at the bottom of a coffee canister is a simple yet secure solution in most cases. Thieves usually are not interested in emptying all the containers in a kitchen.
Place the recovery seed written on paper in a zipper storage bag and hide it at the very bottom of the canister. The smaller the paper the better. Make sure you use a non-transparent container.
I recommend that you do not store the seed words in the coffee canister that you regularly use but in another one that’s not in view.
As an alternative, you can use tea, sugar, or flour storage canisters as well.
Note: This secret place is not ideal if you want to hide your seed words from someone you live with. However, it’s a nice choice if you want to prevent burglars from finding it.
Pro Tip: You can significantly improve security by splitting the recovery seed into multiple parts and hiding each piece in a different location (so you store only the first few words in the coffee canister).
2. Under the Couch or Office Chair Cover
Many couches and chairs come with removable covers. This feature is usually not obvious at first sight and you can take advantage of this fact.
You can easily hide a flat object, such as a piece of paper, under the cover without anyone noticing it. It’s a perfect spot for a secret phrase. Just make sure you avoid the seat cushion.
Again: you can significantly reduce the chance that someone finds your backup seed phrase by reducing the font (and paper) size.
Pro Tip: Make a copy of your recovery phrase and store it separately in a completely different place and location. Consider it as a backup of the backup. Having a copy of the seed phrase can be especially useful if the original source becomes damaged for any reason.
3. Between or On the Pages In a Book
A sophisticated way of storing your backup phrase is to use a dictionary. In this case, all you have to do is find the seed words in the dictionary, mark them in a barely noticeable way and then write the instructions on how to find these words on a piece of paper (for instance, first word: page 312, line 10). Make sure you hide the instructions in a safe place.
If you find the previous solution too tedious, you can simply glue the paper containing the recovery phrase on one of the pages of a book.
4. Use the Frame of a Poster or Painting
While this method won’t work with all kinds of frames, it can be a great way of concealing a recovery backup if there’s enough space between the picture and the frame.
Thieves sometimes take a look behind pictures on the wall, but the vast majority of times, they won’t remove the whole frame just to check whether there’s a little piece of paper underneath.
Remember: Never take photos of your recovery seed! Also, make sure there are no cameras (including phone and laptop) that could see your seed words.
5. In a Hidden Safe
First of all, never store the backup phrase in a safe that’s in plain sight. A safe always attracts thieves like a magnet. Therefore, you want to use a safe that’s hidden.
There are multiple places in a house where you can conceal a small safe, here you’ll find my favorite ones.
As an alternative, you can use a small diversion safe. There are many affordable models on the market (such as this one) but you can also easily make one yourself.
Note: Storing the recovery phrase in a safe deposit box in a bank might seem a good idea, however, I don’t recommend that you keep all the 12 or 24 words there. If you still want to use a storage box in a bank vault, make sure you store only one part of the seed phrase there.
6. In the Attic
An attic is a place that burglars almost always skip during a robbery. To be honest, most people rarely visit attics, therefore it’s a great place to store and hide things.
Keep in mind that you should place the piece of paper that contains the seed phrase into a locked and durable metal box, otherwise, it might end up in the stomach of a rodent. Even better if you use durable stainless steel instead of paper.
7. Buried In the Backyard (or Potting Soil)
If you live in a house with a backyard, burying your wallet seed can be a handy solution. When done properly, this form of storage is a quite secure way of concealing small items, such as a piece of paper or metal.
There are two main drawbacks of this method:
- you must remember exactly where you buried the backup phrase
- it’s rather difficult to access
Also, you must protect its content from humidity and other potentially damaging environmental factors.
Therefore, you should use a stainless steel or plastic container that’s hermetically sealed and designed to be completely resistant to the underground environment. To further improve safety, I also recommend that you use a steel crypto wallet instead of paper inside the container.
If you don’t have your own backyard, you can still use the soil of a potted plant to hide your secret recovery phrase.