I lost My (12 Words) Recovery Phrase. What Now?

A wallet recovery phrase acts as a combination in your safe. It protects your account information and prevents prying eyes. As the name suggests, the recovery phrase (consisting of 12 seemingly random but familiar words) can be used to recover your Crypto wallet and manage your accounts if they are stolen or if you simply forget the password. In this article, we’ll answer what’s the best way to store your Secret Recovery Phrase, what happens if you lose it and is there a way to avoid it.

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Secret Recovery Phrase

Illustration: Milica Mijajlovic

How does a Recovery Phrase Work? 

The best passwords are the ones changed regularly. But how can one remember all of them at once? 

And what happens if you forget it or lose the piece of paper on which you wrote it? That’s where Secret Recovery Phrase steps in. 

If you’re using your wallet on a daily basis, chances are you’re going to know your password by heart. But if you’re not a regular user, it’s very likely you’re going to end up staring blankly into the screen, trying to remember the exact combination of characters, upper and lower cases… And nothing seems to work. 

Don’t worry – it happens to the best of us so, of course, they have thought of a solution. Its name is Secret Recovery Phrase. 

It’s a well-thought, sophisticated method of 12 seemingly random but familiar words that don’t make much sense when put in a sentence. Their spelling and order are crucial so make sure you’re being really precise when you initially store it. 

Let’s see how it works on the example of MetaMask

metamask wallet

Setting up the Wallet. Screenshot: metamask.io

Once you receive your Secret Recovery Phrase, you can sleep soundly knowing it can be used to restore your wallet and create a new password. However, this should be your last resort, in case nothing else works. 

What is the Best Way to Store Secret Recovery Phrase? 

Even if you didn’t forget your password, it can happen that your device crashes or your browser resets. Secret Recovery Phrase is the only way to recover your funds so take it seriously when we say it really needs to be safe and available to you at any time. 

There are a few safe options for storing your Secret Recovery Phrase: 

  • Save in a password manager 
  • Store in a bank vault 
  • Store in a safe deposit box 
  • Write down and store in multiple secret places 
password manager

Setting up the wallet. Screenshot: metamask.io

Now, why everyone is recommending keeping your important passwords on a piece of paper is because most identity thefts happen on the internet.  

It’s much more likely for someone to intrude on your privacy online than to break into your house, right?  

However, the disadvantage of keeping your passwords this way is that maybe they won’t be available to you when you need them, so keep that in mind when choosing locations for hiding your physical password copies. 

After revealing your Secret Recovery Phrase, MetaMask will give you a test to check if you’ve stored it correctly. If you pass it, you’re good to go. 

Never share your Secret Recovery Phrase. There is no valid reason for anyone to know your Secret Recovery Phrase, even if it’s your mom or your preferred crypto wallet. If somebody does ask you, they are most likely trying to scam you and steal your wallet funds. 

In other words, giving away your Secret Recovery Phrase is equal to giving your funds away. 

In case you want to do a backup, you can find your Secret Recovery Phrase in Settings -> Security. Considering the level of privacy, keep in mind that MetaMask cannot recover your Secret Recovery Phrase. 

I lost My Secret Recovery Phrase, What Now? 

Now, if you do happen to lose your Secret Recovery Phrase, which we really hope won’t happen, it may be possible to find your way back by using the vault decryptor. On the official website, you can follow step-by-step instructions for Chromium engine browsers (Chrome, Edge, Opera, Brave), as well as for Firefox. 

crypto wallet security

Photo Illustration: Freepik

However, keep in mind this is only possible via browser extension or iOS devices. At the moment of this writing, it’s not available for Android devices. 

Another thing to be aware of is – if you uninstall the browser extension, your data will be lost as well. It is inconvenient and could cause many problems, that’s why we advise leaving it installed, just in case. 

If all of this seems like too much of a hassle and if you prefer not to deal with Secret Recovery Phrase, that’s also an option to get around it. You can use one of the crypto exchanges, such as Coinbase, which doesn’t require you to move crypto to a separate wallet. Instead, you can store it in your Coinbase account, under ‘hosted wallet’. 

In conclusion, if we had to choose only one sentence for you to take away from this article, it would most definitely be this one: regularly back up your Secret Recovery Phrase. 

A journalist by day and a podcaster by night. She's not writing to impress but to be understood.