In this article, we will explain what a seed phrase is and how it works. We will also take a look at how to store it safely.
What Is a Seed Phrase?
A seed phrase is a list of words generated by a crypto wallet that enables the wallet user to access the crypto funds associated with that wallet. For more on crypto wallets, their types, and how they work, make sure to check our articles on these topics.
It is also known as a seed recovery phrase or a backup seed phrase, and it includes 12 to 24 simple words, such as open, road, forget, achieve, energy, again, feed, etc.
These words are pulled from a list of 2,048 words, and they are not similar. So, there won’t be pairs such as “woman” and “women,” and the reason for this is to avoid errors.
This type of phrase was introduced with the Bitcoin Improvement Proposal 39 in 2013 and was widely adopted after that. The BIP39 established a standard for deterministic wallets. In the case of such a wallet, it will control all the private keys held associated with it.
How Do Seed Phrases Work?
When setting up a crypto wallet, a seed phrase will be automatically generated, and the user will be required to keep and store it safely.
The seed phrase is a representation of a long string of random numbers, but what the user gets is a series of simple words, and that’s because it is easier to remember.
We could say that a crypto wallet is a password manager and a seed phrase is a master password. Since private keys are algorithmically derived from the long string of numbers represented by the phrase, this phrase will help you access all the private keys and crypto funds in your wallet.
One of the great advantages of the standard established by the Bitcoin Improvement Proposal 39 is that it makes major wallets mutually compatible. This means that if you want to switch wallets or lose access to your wallet, you can load the seed phrase into a new BIP39-compatible wallet in order to recover your funds.
Storing The Seed Phrase Safely
Since this is the one that enables a wallet user to access the funds associated with the wallet, it is of utmost importance to be stored safely. That’s because anyone who has the phrase can access your crypto funds.
Then, if you lose it, you also lose access to your crypto. In the unfortunate event that you lose it, but your seed phrase remains undiscovered and unused, your cryptocurrencies will remain stored on the blockchain. However, you won’t be able to access them. So, keeping it somewhere safe is essential, and there are several ways to do that.
One of the classic ways to store it is by simply writing it down on a piece of paper. Some crypto wallet users also engrave the seed phrase into durable materials, such as stainless steel.
Even though some users may resort to encrypting it and storing it on a device, physical storage methods are considered to be the safest. Still, it is best to have multiple safe deposit boxes if you prefer to use the paper method and thus several copies. This way, you can make sure that if something happens with one of these boxes or the paper, you can resort to the others to get your seed phrase.
If you do opt for encrypting and storing it on a device, it is always best to also have it physically stored somewhere.
Seed phrases are the most critical aspect of a crypto wallet. The series of words generated when setting up a crypto wallet provides access to the cryptocurrency associated with that wallet. As long as you have them, you have access to your crypto, and even if you lose access to your wallet, you can enter the seed phrase into another wallet to access your funds.