What is Secret Recovery Phrase


A secret recovery phrase, also known as a recovery phrase or seed phrase, is a series of 12 or 24 words generated by the crypto wallet that gives you access to the funds behind it. Actually, a secret recovery phrase is a different form of the private key, a string of 256 alphanumeric characters in raw form. It plays a decisive role in enabling you to access your cryptocurrency.

What is a crypto wallet? How many kinds of crypto wallets are there in the market? What is a private key? What's its utility? Please refer to the content: What is Crypto Wallet and What are Public Keys & Private Keys

How Does a Secret Recovery Phrase Work

When you first set up a crypto wallet, the crypto wallet provider, such as MetaMask, Ledger, etc., generates a secret recovery phrase of 12 or 24 words during the setup process and instructs you to record all the words in order. The reason why we need the secret recovery phrase (a series of simple words) rather than merely a private key (a string of 256 alphanumeric characters in raw form) is that long strings of numbers are difficult for humans to remember or even transcribe correctly.

Those words used in the secret recovery phrase are chosen at random from a word list. Many wallets use the BIP39 standard, which has a list of 2,048 simple words, such as “lucky,” “stereo,” “trip,” or “win.”

The odds of generating the same secret recovery phrases using the BIP39 standard are nearly the same as the odds of flipping a coin 256 times and having it land on heads every single time.

Your wallet will use the word list to generate the private keys that allow you to access and spend your cryptocurrency. This means that so long as your recovery phrase is the same, the calculation of the private keys will always have the same result. Therefore, if you lose or delete a wallet, you can even recreate it using your recovery phrase alone. On the other hand, if anyone else can get their hands on your secret recovery phrase, they can access your cryptocurrency. So keep it safe!

Difference Between Secret Recovery Phrase and Private Key

Firstly, you need to understand that purpose of your crypto wallet is actually not to store your crypto – your coins and tokens live on the blockchain – but instead, to secure your private keys. The private key gives control over crypto assets. You will generate a private key (along with a corresponding public key) any time you create a blockchain address.

Your secret recovery phrase gives you access to your wallet and all the private keys / address in that wallet. Think of the private key as the physical 🔑 of your vault, and you may have many vaults and keys. To manage and protect those keys safely, you put them into the safe deposit box, which can be seen as your wallet. Think of the secret recovery phrase as the password to the safe deposit box - as long as you have it and you have access to all the associated gold in your vaults.

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