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The 4 Best Ways to Back Up Your Cryptocurrency Wallet Keys – MakeUseOf

Your crypto wallet keys are so important you absolutely need a backup. But how can you backup your crypto wallet keys safely?
Crypto wallets are hugely useful in storing your precious funds but are vulnerable to cybercriminals, as well as loss via device or server malfunction. When any of these events occur, you are at risk of losing your crypto funds. This is why it is crucial to back up your wallet's private keys (which stand as proof that your crypto account belongs to you and is vital for wallet recovery).
But you can prevent this from happening by backing up your cryptocurrency wallet keys. So, how do you do it?
A seed phrase works similarly to a traditional password but is much longer. It consists of a set of words (usually between 12 and 24 words long) and is unique to each user. It's not a sentence, but a random combination of different words (e.g., toe, box, connect, cricket, etc.), making it virtually impossible to predict or guess. Your seed phrase will ensure that you get access to anything associated with it, including your private keys.
But be very careful here. A seed phrase cannot be changed like your social media or email passwords can be. It is designed to be kept incredibly safe as an unchanging default backup password for your crypto accounts. So make sure you keep this phrase super safe once it is given to you. It's also a good idea to split your seed phrase into two or more parts so that it can never be stolen in its entirety.
It's always a good idea to export your private keys to an external location. However, it's important to note that exporting your keys will display them as clear, readable text, making them easy to use for cybercriminals if your device or account is attacked, or for individuals in your vicinity to view your keys onscreen (so make sure you perform the exporting process when alone in a private area).
Related: The Best Hardware Crypto Wallets for Your Funds
However, exporting your private keys to an alternative location does mean that they have been backed up and are accessible to you in the case of an emergency. Just make sure that you're exporting them to an important device or virtual location and that they are protected after being exported.
The process of exporting your keys differs depending on what wallet you're using, so it's best to go to the wallet provider's website and check the FAQ section or simply run a search of how to export your keys from your chosen wallet via a search engine. It's not a very difficult process, in any case, so give it a go if you know you have a secure location prepared for your keys.
When you back up your crypto wallet file, the private keys will be backed up along with it, which makes it a viable virtual backup option. This, again, should be done while alone and never in public.
You can back up this crypto wallet file by copying the master key to a text file and backing it up to a separate device. Alternatively, you can create a unique QR code to store your master key and then print it, making it a form of physical backup (which we'll discuss next).
You can also store this QR code on a device, but be aware that this makes it more susceptible to malware and theft. If you want to store your wallet file or QR code on a device, try a software program designed for such, not just your notes app.
Related: The Best Secure Encrypted Notes Apps for Truly Private Notes
This is probably the most simple of all backup methods, as you don't need any technical knowledge to do it. Physical backup involves using a device or object that is not virtual, such as a piece of paper or flash drive, to back up your private keys.
Related: How Hackers Hack Crypto Wallets, and How to Protect Yourself
The great thing about this is that it completely avoids the theft of your private keys by cybercriminals or their loss via a server crash or malfunction. However, you should be careful in what you use to back up your keys physically. For example, a piece of paper can be found or accessed easily if not kept in a secure location (or accidentally destroyed), and a flash drive is easy to lose (or have stolen physically).
If you want to back up your keys physically like this, ensure that you have a super-secure location, such as a safe, or hidden container, that no one else knows about. This way, you can safely back up your keys without having to worry about them disappearing.
There are a couple of additional ways to back up your private keys, but these are not as secure or easy as the suggestions above, so we recommend considering the first five options first.
The first of these methods is a trusted person. You can tell a trusted person your private key(s), which ensures they're never written down, virtually or physically, in the backup process. However, you then run the risk of your trusted person losing the private key(s) to memory.
Another, less common form of private key backup is via crypto art (like an NFT). This ensures that your key is hidden unconventionally, which cybercriminals are unlikely to consider. However, this technology is pretty new and isn't easy to do, either. But it could provide a super-secure and obscure way to hide your private wallet keys.
It's also worth noting that we do not recommend storing your private keys, seed phrases on a password storage software program, as these can be infiltrated by cybercriminals. Like any other software, they are vulnerable to malfunctions or server crashes. However, if you are set on using such a program, try a highly regarded and recommended one, such as NordPass, Dashlane, or Keeper.
While it's easy to think that our crypto wallets are designed to be secure, they're never entirely safe, and so they need to be protected as much as possible. A backup is a great option to ensure you'll always have access to your crypto funds, come rain or shine. So, give one or more of these methods a go to rest easy, knowing that your funds aren't going to disappear on you.
Facebook’s new cryptocurrency is called Libra, with the digital wallet called Calibra. And both are set to launch in 2020.
Katie is a Staff Writer at MUO with experience in content writing in travel and mental health. She as a specific interest in Samsung, and so has chosen to focus on Android in her position at MUO. She has written pieces for IMNOTABARISTA, Tourmeric and Vocal in the past, including one of her favourite pieces on remaining positive and strong through trying times, which can be found at the link above. Outside of her working life, Katie loves growing plants, cooking, and practicing yoga.
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