I Got a Ledger Nano S for Christmas, Now What? 7 Steps to Set Up Your New Hardware Wallet

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Matthew Hrones · December 31, 2017 · 7:00 pm

Like a lot of crypto enthusiasts, you got a shiny new hardware wallet for Christmas to store your digital assets, but you aren’t sure how to go about setting it up. Not to worry! This 7-step guide will help you set up your Ledger Nano S safely and securely.


7 Steps to Setting up Your Ledger Nano S

Santa came down the chimney and left you a brand-new Ledger Nano S under the tree! Hurray! Now it’s time to set it up and secure your funds, but how? Not to worry. This easy to follow guide will have you up and running in no time.

Step 1 – Read the Manual

Seriously. The first thing you need to do is read the manual. Many people have the mentality of “ah I’ll figure it out myself,” but we’re talking about money here. This isn’t some new gadget you got where figuring out just what the hell it does is half the fun. This is important.

Step 2. Connect Your Ledger Nano S

Connect your Ledger Nano S to your computer using the provided USB cable. You’ll be prompted to decide whether you want to create a brand new wallet or import an existing Bitcoin or Ethereum wallet. For this tutorial, it is assumed that you are creating a new wallet. Follow the instructions on your Ledger, using the two buttons on the device to select and validate your choices.

Step 3. Set Your PIN

The next step is to choose your 4-digit PIN that you will be asked for every time you connect your Ledger. I recommend writing down the PIN along with your recovery phrase (see Step 4), although if you forget your PIN you can still regenerate your keys using the phrase. If someone knows your PIN and has your Ledger, they will have access to your coins so make sure its hard to guess. Another thing to remember is that the Ledger Nano S will factory reset if the PIN is entered wrong three times in a row so be sure that your PIN is something that you will remember.

Step 4. Backup Your Recovery Phrase (Seed)

Every wallet uses a private key – an alphanumeric string that cryptographically proves ownership of a given wallet address and the bitcoins associated with that address. When you send bitcoin to someone from your wallet, the transaction is digitally “signed” with the private key, proving that you are the owner of the funds being spent from that address. With a software wallet, the private key is stored on your computer or mobile device. In this case, your private key is stored on the Ledger, meaning that ever gets lost you could be up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Fortunately, Ledger has anticipated the possibility of this happening. The device will give you a 24-word phrase, all random words, called a seed. Using this seed, you can regenerate your private key on another wallet in the event of something happening to your hardware. Follow the prompts on your Ledger Nano S to generate your 24-word seed, and be sure to write those words down on the Recovery Sheet that came with your hardware wallet. Be sure to store it a secure location. Depending on how much you’re holding or how paranoid cautious you are, you may want to store copies of your seed phrase in different geographical locations. Let’s say your house burns down, your key goes up in smoke. Thankfully, you left a copy at your grandma’s house, so you can recover your funds.

Step 5. Download and Install Ledger Apps

Now that you’ve set your PIN and generated (and secured) your 24-word seed phrase, the next step is to download the relevant apps from the Ledger website. The Ledger Nano S can hold quite a few altcoins, but you can store whatever you’d like. All apps require either the Google Chrome or Chromium 50+ browser and should ONLY be downloaded directly from the Ledger apps page.

At a minimum, you’ll need to install the Ledger Wallet Bitcoin & Altcoins app, which will allow you to store, send, and receive bitcoin as well as a variety of altcoins. Ethereum and Ripple work a little differently and require their own apps (also available on the apps page). If you plan on storing more than four cryptocurrencies on your Ledger Nano S, you’ll need to install the Ledger Manager app too.

Keep in mind that your hardware wallet can only have four apps on it at a time, so you’ll need to uninstall and reinstall apps as you use different apps. Don’t worry though – even if you uninstall an app, your coins will still be there the next time you reinstall it.

Download and Install Ledger Apps

Step 6. Test Your Setup

Once all of your apps are installed, you will want to verify that you set up your wallet correctly before you start transferring all of your holdings. To do this, send a very small amount of bitcoin or another altcoin you will be storing on your wallet. By ‘small amount’, I mean less than $1. Once the transaction has confirmed and you see it in the wallet app, reset the device. This will completely wipe out your wallet and reset the device to its original factory settings, which is exactly what you want.

After your Ledger has been reset, try restoring your wallet using the 24-word seed phrase you generated in Step 4. If you have followed all of the setup steps correctly, you will see that your wallet has been restored with the test coins you just sent safe and sound.

Step 7. Transfer Your Holdings

Now that you have confirmed that your hardware wallet has been setup correctly, it’s time to start moving your funds. This is the fun part and it really feels like you’re in the future when you are sending and receiving money all on a tiny USB stick. Plus, your Ledger Nano S will give you peace of mind when it comes to the security of your crypto holdings.

Did you get a Ledger Nano S for Christmas? Did you find the setup instructions easy to follow? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of  Pexels, Pixabay, Ledger

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