A recovery phrase, also known as a mnemonic seed phrase or simply a seed phrase, is a sequence of words (usually 12, 18, or 24) that serves as a human-readable backup for your Bitcoin wallet. It represents the private key or keys associated with your wallet addresses and allows you to recover your Bitcoin funds in case you lose access to your wallet, such as due to device failure, loss, or theft.
A recovery phrase is generated when you create a new wallet using a deterministic wallet protocol, such as BIP-32, BIP-39, or BIP-44. The seed phrase is derived from a randomly generated number, which is then converted into a list of words from a predefined wordlist.
Here’s how a recovery phrase works in a Bitcoin wallet:
- When you create a new wallet, you will be given a recovery phrase, which you must write down and store securely. It’s crucial to store your recovery phrase offline, away from your digital devices, and in a safe place where it cannot be lost or accessed by unauthorized individuals.
- If you ever need to recover your wallet or import it into a different wallet software, you’ll be prompted to enter your recovery phrase. By providing the correct sequence of words, you can regain access to your Bitcoin holdings.
- The recovery phrase can also help you recover your wallet in case you forget your wallet password or PIN, as long as you have access to the recovery phrase.
It’s important to note that anyone with access to your recovery phrase can potentially gain control of your Bitcoin funds, so it’s essential to store your recovery phrase safely and securely, treating it with the same care as you would treat the private keys themselves.