5 Steps to Verify Your BIP39 Seed Phrase Securely (2021 Update)
If you want to verify the authenticity of your BIP39 seed phrase on your Trezor Model T, this is the guide for you.
In this guide we will cover:
- Why you should verify your seed
- Ideal hardware to use
- Step-by-step process for verifying seed
- Backup up the seed after verification
- Plus much more
Read on to verify your seed in just 5 easy steps. But before you start, make sure to get your Trezor, seed, and a metal backup such as Billfodl ready.
How To Verify and Backup Your BIP39 Seed Phrase (Mnemonic) With A Trezor Model T
The simplest way to verify your BIP39 seed phrase is to use a Trezor Model T and its accompanying web wallet.
Trezor is also working on its own desktop wallet called Trezor Suite.
But until at least February 2021, the wallet is still in beta. Even beyond this date, it requires a little more scrutiny.
You can access the Trezor Web Wallet by using one of these supported browsers:
For privacy reasons, using Tor is ideal. It may be slower, but it helps break the link between your IP address and your wallet.
And thanks to Trezor's commitment to support open source projects, you can configure Tor by following 7 easy steps.
You can also use a VPN service like Express or Nord. But keep in mind that the VPN service you use will be aware of your activities.
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Now that we fixed the privacy issue, it's time to actually connect to the Trezor Web Wallet. Here are the steps:
#1 Connect your Trezor Model T to your computer, type your PIN to unlock it
#2 Visit trezor.io;
#3 In the top menu, click on "Wallet";
#4 Select the Trezor Model T and after physical inspection click on "Continue to Wallet";
#5 If you set up a passphrase, you will have to enter it. For privacy reasons, always choose to enter your passphrase on the device;
#6 In the wallet home screen, click on the wallet's name on the left. Then notice the new top menu which has 3 options: "Basic", "Homescreen", and "Advanced".
Click on "Advanced" and then scroll down.
#7 While scrolling, you will notice a button which reads "Check Recovery Seed". Click on it.
#8 Another window will pop up to help you perform the recovery.
It provides information about the nature of the seed phrase verification. After you read, click "Continue"
#9 Now the action moves to the screen of your Trezor Model T.
The message should read "Do you really want to check the recovery seed?".
To proceed, touch the on-screen confirmation button.
#10 Enter the number of words of your seed phrase.
For BIP39, you have 12, 18, or 24 words.
The 20 and 33 word options are for Shamir backups. There is only one correct answer for your backup and you should be the one who knows it.
#11 Up next, Trezor will inform you that you're about to enter the recovery seed. To proceed, press the "Enter Seed" button.
#12 Now you will see 9 on-screen buttons and a yellow backspace input for corrections.
Use these buttons to type the words from your seed phrase, in the correct order.
As you type, you will notice some helpful suggestions from the BIP39 dictionary.
#13 If you enter all the words without mistakes and in the correct order, an on-screen message will pop.
It reads "The entered recovery seed is valid and matches the one on the device".
Congratulations! You have now successfully verified your seed phrase on the Trezor Model T!
#14 Now that your verification is complete, feel free to unplug your Trezor Model T.
Congratulations! Your backup is correct and you have also exercised your recovery skills.
Now all you need to do is store your backup in a Billfodl to protect it from fire and floods and other acts of God.
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Why Verify Your Seed Phrase?
The most obvious reason for seed phrase verification is that you must make sure that your words are correct.
You must be sure that they had been written without mistakes and in the right order.
Though the Trezor Model T does include a verification screen after the BIP39 seed phrase creation, it only makes you check 3 random words.
So it's essential to make sure that all your 12 or 24 words are correct and in the right order.
Also, practicing Bitcoin wallet recovery is useful for yourself. You should remind yourself how to access your bitcoins.
This way, you're always ready for emergencies. Who knows when you must move your coins to another wallet in a time-sensitive situation?
You may want to flee the country ASAP or you may want to save your funds when someone else finds your seed phrase.
Or your reasons can be as basic as an interface change to which you want to adapt. Verifying your backup is something you should do yearly as a sanity check.
You should also perform this verification in a secure environment. In the next section, I will explain how to do that.
Verify Seed Phrases With Hardware Wallet
Hardware wallets are the best verification and recovery devices.
At core, they are simple computers which fulfill tasks related to the access of your bitcoins.
- They create a random BIP39 seed phrases
- They provide extra layers of security
- They sign transactions
- They help you verify and recover you seed.
For verifications and recoveries, you should never use your computer keyboard.
There is always a chance that your internet-connected might get infected.
You can always get a keylogger, or some other form of spyware. And antivirus software can't always protect you – new threats always emerge.
You should never type your seed phrase into a wallet like Electrum or Coinomi. Not without a hardware wallet whose interface you can use as an external keyboard.
Why Use A Trezor Model T To Verify Your Seed Phrase?
The Trezor Model T offers a large screen which works with touch inputs.
This allows you to write the seed phrase by using the T9 standard. It will be like in the old days when you were sending text messages on your Nokia 3310.
In comparison with the Ledger Nano S and X which only have two physical buttons, Trezor's input is a lot more convenient.
It's also intuitive and fast, with suggestions which make sure that you won't type the entire word.
The open source software is another reason why you should use the Trezor Model T for recovery.
Satoshi Labs, the company behind Trezor, has always kept its commitment to open source every line of code.
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This way, everything that happens in the background gets scrutinized by security experts.
To summarize: the large screen, the simple T9 touch typing, and the open source tradition make the Trezor Model T ideal for seed phrase recovery and verification.