What is 12-word recovery phrase?

12-word backup phrase – also know as 12-words, “backup”, recovery phrase, mnemonic seed, “seed” – is a unique, randomly generated set of words, that are given to you when you create a wallet. The recovery phrase is used to derive, or generate, all the private keys, which are encrypted directly on your device. You have a private key for each of your assets (Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, etc), but a 12-word phrase has control of all of your private keys. This phrase gives you permanent access to your funds and, therefore, is the most important thing to take care of.

12-word seed phrase can help you to recover your funds if you ever lose access to the wallet on the device the wallet is installed on. Anyone who discovers the phrase would be able to steal your funds. You should take the safety of your recovery phrase very seriously.

  • How to store your 12-words backup phrase?

Nothing is more important than keeping your 12-word recovery phrase safe! Everything which is stored digitally is always under the threat of hacking. We strongly believe the best way to store your backup phrase is the offline world.

Write it down or print it on a piece of paper and store it in two different places. Double-check that you copied the words of the phrase correctly. The words must be written in the correct order without any spelling errors and capital letters. You can also store three pieces of paper containing the words in a particular sequence.

You can also store the phrase offline in a personal safe, a safety deposit box or engrave on a metal plate. Wherever you can think of, as long as it is protected from loss, theft, damage, etc.

Dont’s: Do not store it on your computer/laptop, phone/tablet in any format. Do not take a picture of it with your phone. Do not send it in an email or share it in any other way out there on the internet. Don’t use the public printer to print the phrase.

  • How is the recovery phrase generated?

Your 12-word phrase is a set of words randomly taken from a dictionary, with each word assigned to a number. The seed phrase can be converted to a number that is used as the seed integer to a deterministic wallet that generates all the public and private keys. The words are taken from a wordlist of the BIP39 standard (2048 words). So if the phrase contained only 12 random words, the number of possible combinations would be 2048^12 = 2^132 and the phrase would have 132 bits of security. However, some of the data in a BIP39 phrase is not random, so the actual security of a 12-word BIP39 seed phrase is only 128 bits. This is approximately the same strength as all Bitcoin private keys, so most experts consider it to be sufficiently secure.

The generation of the seed is made by a series of processes described in BIP39 standard. The pairs of public and private keys are derived by using a standard derivation algorithm ( BIP 44).

Your recovery phrase is not your private key but is used to derive your public and private keys.

  • Where is the backup phrase stored in Atomic Wallet?

The phrase is encrypted directly on the device the wallet is installed on. We don’t have any access to it and don’t hold it on our servers. You are the only one with access to it and thus, fully controlling your funds.

We don’t have any user’s private information on our servers - that what makes us a “decentralized” wallet and protects from hacking attacks, that we constantly see happening with major trades.

With full control, comes full responsibility. We ask you to take the safety of your 12-word phrase seriously. NEVER share it with anybody (including us). If you forget your password and phrase nobody could retrieve it to you - the access to your funds will be lost.

  • How can I use 12-word backup phrase?

Generally speaking, you need to put your 12-word backup phrase in use if you ever lose access to your funds. It might be the case if a device Atomic Wallet is installed on is lost, crashed, stolen or destroyed by a volcano.
Another way to use the phrase is a need to restore the wallet. For example, if you want to import the phrase to another wallet to have access to your funds. In any way, we strongly suggest to only use the phrase if it is really a necessity. Minimalizing the use of the phrase will ensure its safety. Give up on claiming forked/airdrop tokens by your backup phrase. It is not safe.

  • Security of the wallet.

The security of your wallet (read money) is depended on the security of your 12-word backup phrase. If you keep your phrase safe – you keep your assets safe. NEVER share your 12-word phrase with anyone. Even if it looks “safe”. Atomic Wallet Team never asks for your recovery phrase or your private keys. 


Need some help? Contact us at support@atomicwallet.io. We provide quick and friendly support 24/7. 

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