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HOW TO BACK UP A LEDGER NANO S

by Colin Aulds

Most of the people that create their cryptocurrency wallet for the first time do not know what to do with the seed words. Doing a proper backup of your Ledger Nano S hardware wallet’s recovery seed is a extremely important, and an often neglected step. If a Ledger user accidentally breaks or loses the device, having an accurate backup gives them the access to the otherwise lost funds. 


When setting up a Ledger device, the user is shown 24 random words which are the seed words. The seed is the actual “password” to unlocking and recovering the cryptocurrency portfolio on other devices if something happened to the main device. It is extremely important to save the seed somewhere safe, advisably not on an electronic device but rather on a stainless steel backup device

Required Items In Order to Backup a Ledger Nano S

In order to properly backup a Ledger Nano S hardware wallet, the user has to have: 

  • A Ledger Nano S
  • A USB cable 
  • A computer 
  • A Billfodl 

Backing Up the Wallet

To backup a ledger, we need to initialize it first and make sure Ledger Live is downloaded and up to date. 

Download Ledger Live by going to this page.

If you already have Ledger Live downloaded, make sure Ledger Live is up to date.

1. Open Ledger Live

2. If a blue update bar appears at the top, it is out of date.

3. Select "Install now" and restart Ledger Live.

Initializing the Ledger device

1. Plug in the Ledger to your PC or Mac. You will see a welcome message on screen and a prompt to press both buttons. Do so.

After going through the prompts on the Ledger screen, select the right hand button to confirm you want to "Configure as new device". 

Now the Ledger will ask you to choose a pin code for the device. This can be up to 8 numbers long. When you are finished inputting the pin, hit both buttons simultaneously to move onto the pin confirmation, where you will re-enter the pin again. 

The Ledger will now show you a series of 24 words. This list of words is what is known as a mnemonic phrase (also referred to as a recovery seed or a backup phrase). This is the actual backup of the wallet on your Ledger device. You can cycle through each word one by one using the buttons on top of the nano s or the face buttons on the nano X. 

Using the Billfodl and the provided tiles of letters, input the first four letters of each word, one by one, into the main chassis. For instance, if your first word is "fabric", input the "f" tile into the first slot of the Billfodl, followed by an "a" tile, then a "b" tile, and finally a "r" tile. Repeat this process for all 24 words that your ledger device shows you. 


The video below shows you this process in more detail. 

Once you have the Billfodl filled, you will now need to verify you have recorded the words in the correct order by confirming some of them on the Ledger device. Select both buttons to go to the recovery phrase confirmation process.

The Ledger will now show you random words from you recovery phrase. For instance, in the example in the GIF above, it asks you to confirm which word is the 23rd one in the seed. It shows 'broken', but you'd need to check your Billfodl to see what word 23 should be. If it's not 'broken', use the buttons to cycle through other words until you see the right one, then press both buttons to confirm it. 

That process looks like this:

Repeat this process until the confirmation is complete. You will then see a prompt that the device is in "configuration..." mode.

Your Ledger will let you know the configuration process has completed by telling you that your device is now ready. 

Now that you have verified your backup is correct and your Ledger is ready to roll, you need to hide the Billfodl somewhere it is not likely to be found by someone else. 

Warning: Never show anyone your 24 word recovery phrase. If someone sees it, they can take your coins. The whole point of the recovery phrase is that anyone can input it into any wallet and regain access to the coins in the public address tied to it. The recovery phrase is just a private key translated into a standard called BIP39. For all intents and purposes, you need to treat the recovery phrase as the right to own the coins it belongs to. 

And that's all! Congratulations on successfully setting up and backing up your Ledger. For more information on seed words and where they come from, read our blog post here


You can also get your Billfodl below if you don't already have one, or visit this page for more information. 
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