Seed phrase or Recovery Phrase: everything you need to know

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The most important thing in the issue of safe storage of funds is a properly selected cryptocurrency wallet and Seed-phrase. It is hard to overestimate the importance of the Seed Phrase, so we will tell you why you should start taking care of the safety of your assets with it, what its meaning is, whether it is possible to select a seed phrase and how to store it safely.

What is a Seed phrase or a Recovery phrase?

The idea of using words instead of complex combinations of numbers denoting a private key was described in 2013 in a project document - Bitcoin Improvement Proposal 39 (BIP39). The BIP39 standard contains a vocabulary of 2048 words (English is recommended, but there are versions in other languages as well). 

This revolutionary idea simplified secure backup and recovery of cryptocurrency wallets, and allowed for convenient and easy control of one's assets by simply owning a phrase.

Seed-phrase, aka recovery phrase, mnemonic phrase, seed-phrase or simply seed, is a set of words (from 12 to 24 words) required for wallet recovery. It is generated on the user's device at the moment of wallet creation and remains unchanged during the whole time of its use.

This phrase is initially available exclusively to the user who installed the cryptocurrency wallet, wallet developers or third-party services do not have access to it. 

Examples of seed phrases

The words for the phrase are not randomly chosen, they are selected from the dictionary by special calculations described in the BIP39 standard. That is why the probability of picking or guessing the content of the syde and "cracking" it is zero.

The mnemonic phrases of the BIP39 standard can look like this:

  • 12 words: alpha afford bundle fit fatigue vast upper youth wood vacuum toddler skirt 


  • 24 words: smoke sketch until typical pause network object random banner attitude common divert coral excite furnace frequent green harsh increase laugh level vendor whip year
Words in the BIP39 dictionary do not have a common root, are sorted in a special way and do not match on the first 4 characters.

How does a seed phrase or mnemonic phrase work?

There are two forms of storing access to assets: some cryptocurrency wallets create private keys to access each asset, and some create a seed phrase. 

If a wallet generates a seed-phrase (Trustee Wallet is one of them), it is this phrase that is used to store the private keys of each asset in the wallet.

In Trustee Wallet, the possibility of obtaining private keys is excluded for security reasons, but users can obtain them from the seed using the service if necessary.

How to get a seed phrase in Trustee Wallet?

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Seed-phrase generation occurs after installation of the application when Trustee Wallet is launched for the first time. Unique Recovery Phrase (Seed-phrase) consists of 12/24 words. 

To display the Recovery Phrase, go to your wallet settings, where you select "My Wallets". In it, tap on the 4 dots, in the submenu that pops up, tap "Recovery Phrase" where you need to hold down the app screen to see the words of your phrase. You need to write it down in its original form and without mistakes, paying special attention to the correct sequence of words. 

How to restore a wallet in Trustee Wallet

Since a seed phrase is a form of key storage, the user who owns it is not bound to a single application or specific device on which the wallet is installed. You can regain access to your assets by importing the phrase into another wallet program (supporting the BIP39 standard) or onto another device.

There are such options to restore access to your assets using a seed phrase, let's consider them on the example of Trustee Wallet:

  • restore your former Trustee Wallet by reinstalling the application on the new device (in case of mobile device change)


  • restore into Trustee Wallet seed phrases of third-party wallets: Metamask, MEW, Trust Wallet, etc. 


  1. When installing the Trustee Wallet app, select the Restore Wallet function.
  2. Enter your saved Recovery Phrase (seed-phrase) in absolutely exact sequence and without errors.
  3. Specify the Wallet Name by going to Settings (Gears icon at the bottom of the page), if necessary.
  4. After entering the correct Recovery Phrase, the wallet is ready to work.

The importance of the seed phrase

Having reached this point, the attentive reader has had time to internalize the main rule: the seed phrase is the only key to the assets in your wallet. 

If it is lost or stolen (compromised), you may lose access to your funds forever. It is impossible to restore access to the assets without the passphrase!

However, if you carefully guard it, you can always:

  • restore access to assets by installing the wallet on other devices;
  • "transfer" it to any wallet that supports the BIP39 standard;
  • transfer control over assets as a gift or inheritance by simply giving the seed phrase;
  • gain control over assets from anywhere in the world, without having to take out the device on which the wallet was installed, and much more.

Disadvantages of seed phrases

Despite the fact that transforming a private key (or a set of keys) into an understandable, albeit incoherent phrase is a simplification, the reliable storage of a seed-phrase remains the main challenge.

Experts do not recommend simply relying on one's own memory, and no one has yet proposed a single absolutely reliable method (we will consider conditionally reliable ones below).

It is important to remember, if attackers gain access to the seed phrase, they will have control over all assets in the wallet.

How to store a Seed-phrase securely

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This is perhaps the most interesting question, involving a creative approach to inventing a storage method just for your situation.

Among the tried and tested and suggested by the community are the following:

  1. Memory
  2. Paper record
  3. Metal objects
  4. Hardware password managers
  5. Cloud services

Elements of these methods can be used in any combination, using approaches that suit your capabilities, interests, tastes, and perceptions of safety.

However, you should also remember that excessive simplicity or complexity is the enemy of safety. Every step you take to make a task harder for someone else also makes it harder for you and vice versa.


It is not usually advised to rely on it, but if you are sure that there is no other way, you can try to apply mnemonic techniques and practices from eidetics, for example:

  • Narrative creation. Divide a phrase into fragments that you feel you can make a connection between. The idea is to create independent mini-narratives that can later be linked together after memorizing each one independently.
  • Acronyms. You can try to make an acronym from the first letters of a group. If it can be pronounced, you can memorize it and use it to cue each line.
  • Memory Palace technique (Cicero's method or the Roman Room method). This technique allows you to create associations between seemingly unrelated images. Mentally arrange the words in a familiar room in a strictly defined syd order. Then, mentally passing your gaze around the room you will be able to recreate them.
Tips: once you've memorized the words, you'll need to go back to practicing them regularly. Don't use a computer to practice, only practice writing the seed down on paper, alone, and destroy all copies as soon as you're done.


The most common way to preserve a seed phrase is to write it down on paper. In order to make this method more reliable and resistant to all sorts of risks, the following are recommended:

  • multiply the recordings (but this also multiplies the risks of detection);
  • taking notes in both pencil and pen;
  • laminate paper;
  • store paper in an envelope sealed with a seal;
  • store records in special waterproof and fireproof covers;
  • store in a safe deposit box (but there are a number of risks associated with storage by third parties);
  • store in a fireproof safe;
  • store as far away from the device as possible;
  • divide the phrase into fragments that can be stored separately;
  • write down not the phrase, but the cipher to the phrase (there are many ways of coding);
  • encode the phrase in a picture (images or text), etc.
An important recommendation is to systematically check the location of the record and its integrity. In case of any doubt, it is safer to transfer assets to another wallet (more on this below)

Metal objects

These can be plain steel plates with engraving or special word typing devices such as Cryptosteel. 

They are fireproof and waterproof, and their size and shape make them easy to transport. But they only partially solve the problem, because usually the phrases on them are not encrypted in any way.

Hardware password managers

These are tools for storing any passwords and seeds, similar to a flash card, with enhanced information security measures - encryption, passwords, fingerprints, etc. (e.g. Pastilda, OnlyKey, Hideez, KeePass, etc.). (e.g. Pastilda, OnlyKey, Hideez, KeePass). 

This method of storage partially solves the problem of storage detection. But there are risks of software obsolescence or malfunction on such devices, as well as hacking if they are used on devices connected to the Internet. 

Cloud password storage

This is the most unreliable way to store a passphrase because the information is stored on third-party servers and may be at risk of attack, deletion, or uncontrolled disclosure.

You should not store the passphrase on any online services or use it on equipment connected to the Internet. 

How to change the seed phrase

Seed-phrase in Trustee Wallet (as well as in any other wallet supporting BIP39) is generated at the moment of its creation. It should be recorded in any of the ways suggested above, but definitely not in the form of notes or screenshots on your mobile device.

It will remain unchanged during the entire period of using the wallet. 

It is the guarantee of immutability that ensures the possibility of restoring access to the assets in case the device is lost or stolen. 

If your seed phrase has been compromised and you want to protect your assets, create a new wallet and transfer your assets to it. Of course, you will spend some of the funds on network fees, but you will keep the remaining assets.

How to recover a seed phrase

If you have lost your seed phrase and you do not have access to your wallet, unfortunately it is not possible to recover the seed phrase and therefore you lose access to your virtual assets. 

However, in situations when you have lost/forgotten part of your mnemonic phrase or made a mistake when copying it, there is a chance to restore access to your assets using certain programs (e.g. BTCRecover, Seed Savior).

To work with such programs, you need to have a sufficient idea of what words your phrase consisted of and in what order they were placed (one or more mistakes are acceptable, not the whole phrase forgotten), it is very desirable to have the last word of the phrase, as well as the presence of at least one public address. 

By the way, such recovery has its own security disadvantages, because fraudsters who have recognized a part of your seed phrase can ask for help from such services.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is it possible to find out by brute force the seed phrase?

According to experts, it is extremely unlikely. To pick even 6 words from a BIP39-generated seed-phrase can take about... forever.

How to know the seed-phrase of a wallet?

To find out the seed-phrase of your wallet (on the example of Trustee Wallet), you need:

  1. On the home page open the Settings menu.
  2. Go to the My Wallets page.
  3. Choose the wallet you are interested in and click on the 4 dots sign in the upper right corner.
  4. On the Wallet Settings page that opens, click on Recovery Phrase.
  5. On the phrase page that opens, hold down on the app screen to view the phrase and commit it to paper.

Rewrite the words carefully and follow the order clearly.

Seed-phrase checker - what is it?

This is a service that allows you to check the correctness of your own seed phrase (if you are not sure about the sequence or correctness of words) or to create a new seed phrase.

The most popular service is Mnemonic Code Converter. On it you can enter an existing BIP39 mnemonic or generate a new random one. 

Developers be warned: typing your own twelve words probably won't work as you expect, since the words require some structure (the last word contains a checksum).

In addition, on this service, advanced users can transform their seed phrase into an asset's private key. 

Thus, the seed phrase is the only way to keep access to your assets, and its importance is difficult to overestimate. In the article, we specified the main ways of storing a mnemonic phrase and the principles of working with it. 

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