What to Do If Your Trezor or Recovery Seed Goes Missing
by Matt Oksa
It happens even to the best of us, you touch your pocket or bag and realize something is missing — your wallet. A short period of carelessness and your documents, money, and cards are gone. If you block your payment cards and report missing documents fast enough, the chances are that you will get away from this incident unscathed with a few hours wasted on getting the new cards and documents.
But what if this happens to your hardware wallet? Or even worse, your recovery seed?
No authority can block your funds and prevent access to unwanted visitors, or provide backup access to your funds. You’re the only one with access and responsibility for your funds, and you must be prepared for all possible emergency situations. Every proper hodler knows how to backup and recover a wallet, and so should you.
The following steps will help you only if either your device or recovery seed is missing. If both your Trezor device and recovery seed are gone, there’s no way to recover your accounts.
My Trezor has been lost or stolen.
You were going to check your balance, or maybe make a transaction, but suddenly realize that your Trezor isn’t where it’s supposed to be. It’s natural to start panicking, the satoshis you intensively stacked over the years could be gone, but that’s the worst thing you can do. It’s essential to remain calm and follow a few simple steps that will ensure that your coins stay in your possession and safe.
If you’re sure that your Trezor or recovery seed is gone, you need to immediately move out your funds to a new secure wallet. It doesn’t really matter whether they were lost or stolen; you should always treat a missing device or seed as a potential threat that could lead to loss of your coins.
Step by step guide for a missing Trezor with available recovery seed:
- Locate the recovery seed of the wallet that was stored on your missing Trezor device “A”.
- Create a new secure wallet using your backup Trezor device “B” or use one of the third-party apps if you don’t have a spare device.
- Write down the recovery seed of the new wallet “B” and generate and save a receiving address.
(You will be moving coins out of the lost/stolen device in the next steps)
- Test the receiving address by sending a few satoshis from your other wallet or an exchange account to the newly created wallet “B” and verify that you have received the coins.
(The minimum amount of BTC you can send is 546 satoshis or 0.00000546 bitcoin)
- Recover your missing wallet and immediately transfer all of your coins to the newly created wallet “B”.
- Destroy the old recovery seed.
7. Order a new Trezor and sleep tight.
Having a backup Trezor device is a great solution for cases like this as using a third-party wallet always carries a risk and should be considered only as the option of last resort.
My recovery seed has been lost or stolen.
The loss of recovery seed is much more critical than a loss of the device, as your recovery seed allows anyone to recover and access your wallet and funds stored within. If your recovery seed is missing, but you have a Trezor device with access to the affected wallet, then you should be able to recover your funds quickly. However, the missing recovery seed cannot be re-generated in any way, which means that you will need to create a new wallet with a new recovery seed.
Step by step guide for a missing recovery seed with wallet available on a Trezor device:
- Access the affected wallet on your main Trezor device “A”.
- Create a new wallet with a new recovery seed using your backup Trezor device “B” or a third-party wallet.
- Test the receiving address by sending a few satoshis from your wallet or an exchange account to the newly created wallet and verify that you have received the coins.
- Transfer the funds out of the affected wallet “A” into your newly created wallet “B”.
- Erase the Trezor device “A” with the accounts from the missing recovery seed.
- Recover the new wallet on your original Trezor device “A”.
- Erase the backup device “B” or remove your wallet from the third-party wallet that you used in step 2.
- Properly back up your new recovery seed.
In the worst-case scenario, when both your Trezor and recovery seed are missing, you unfortunately won’t be able to recover access to your accounts. You can still attempt to remember your recovery seed by looking at the recovery seed word list. However, this method would work only if you used to know your seed by memory.
The Passphrase to the rescue
In both scenarios of either a missing Trezor device or a recovery seed, you can minimize the chances of your coins being stolen by having the Passphrase feature enabled. With the Passphrase enabled, no one will be able to access your accounts without knowing the Passphrase even if they had your Trezor or recovery seed in their hands.
It’s important to remember, that just like in the case of a lost recovery seed, the lost Passphrase cannot be recovered by anyone, ultimately resulting in loss of access to your coins.
The Trezor Wiki is an excellent source for the best security practices that can prevent accidents like this from occurring, but once they happen, it’s good to know what to do. We have prepared documentation for emergency situations like the two described above, which provides you with step by step guidance on all the possible scenarios.
Although it’s good to be informed, we hope that you’ll never need to use this guide.
What to do if your Trezor or recovery seed goes missing was originally published in Trezor Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.