Launched in 2014, the Ledger wallet, with its custom-made software, the Ledger lives, is a pioneering hardware device for cryptocurrency key storage. Over the years, the Ledger wallet project has grown to be one of the leading hardware wallet providers, supporting over 1500 digital assets. At the time of writing, the Ledger wallet has had the release of three wallet model, with two very successful models (Nano S and Nano X) and one failed model (the Ledger blue).
Over the course of this Ledger wallet review, we will be looking at how the Ledger wallet functions, an overview of all three of its releases, with greater emphasis on the Ledger Nano S and Ledger nano X. Also, we will be looking at how to set up the Ledger wallets and basic security best practices to keep in mind when using the Ledger wallet.
How does the Ledger wallet work
To understand how the Ledger wallet works, we can look back at what the crypto space was like before the advent of hardware wallets. In 2014 Mt Gox, which was the biggest exchange at the time, was hacked with the loss of over 740,000 BTC, of users’ funds.
That hack, along with several other smaller volume thefts from other hackers, really showed the need for a safer alternative for key storage. The phrase “not your key not your wallet” really struck home with the crypto community, which is the premise of what a hardware wallet is. In December of 2014, 11 months after the hack, the Ledger wallet was launched.
The Ledger wallet started as a secure element chip that provides crypto wallet users with a safe and smart device to store their keys locally. The Ledger Nano X and S versions come in a USB stick design, with a USB connector cable for sending out signed transactions to the Ledger live wallet software. This Ledger- live subsequently propagates the transaction across the blockchain network.
With the Ledger Wallet, the private keys (which are used for signing transactions) are stored in the hardware device and never leave the device at any point in use. This is such that, accessing the keys stored in the wallet is impossible from an external device. The only data that leaves the device, is a signed transaction.
A look at all 3 of the Ledger series
The Ledger wallet so far has released three wallets, these are; the Ledger nano X, the Ledger Nano S, and the Ledger blue. The first two versions, which have had several upgrades, are the wallets currently in the market. The Ledger Blue is currently out of production as we will be seeing shortly.
Ledger Nano S
This was the first of the Ledger series and the first of the Ledger’s collections, and also the highest sold. The Nano S comes with a USB connector cable that allows the wallet to receive unsigned transactions from the Ledger live and send across the signed transactions to the Ledger Live.
The Ledger live comes in a 56.95mm X 17.4mm X 9.1mm USB flash drive build, weighing approximately 16g, and has an assortment of 6 different colors to choose from. This comes with one USB cable for connection to your PC or Smartphone. As of the time of writing, the Nano S is sold for $59.
Ledger Nano X
This is the second release of the Ledger nano series and comes with more upgrades in design and compatibility. Some of these upgrades are a larger screen compared to its predecessor the Nano S, compatibility with iOS devices, and Bluetooth connectivity.
The Ledger blue wallet
Currently out of production, the ledge blue has a large colored touch screen and comes installed with the Ledger live app, allowing users to execute their transactions directly from the device without needing an external interface to create transactions.
The Ledger Blue is not limited to the Ledger live software rather it is compatible with 11 other wallet apps some of which are: MyEtherWallet, Copay, Electrum, Mycelium, GreenBits, BitGo, and several others. It works across Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS.
How to set up a Ledger wallet
The setup for all the Ledger wallets are somewhat similar; however, for the purpose of this review, we will review the setup with the Nano X wallet.
To configure a new device, you have to download the Ledger Live android, iOS app, or the desktop version, depending on your device. To configure
- Tap on “Get Started”
- Click on “Initialize as a new device”
- Choose “Ledger Nano”
- Press both buttons again to choose your Pincode of 4-8 digits.
- To select a digit from zero to 9, press the right or left button. To validate a digit, press both buttons.
- Once you reach at least four digits, there is the option to add more numbers or to approve the pin number and re-enter the pin-code again to confirm.
- Write down your 24-word recovery phrase in a safe place, which will appear on the hardware screen. Make sure it’s written in the arrayed order. Also, you will have to confirm the phrase order, the second time, to complete the creation of the wallet.
- To confirm the information on the Ledger live interface, scroll across the words with the right and left button, and press both buttons to confirm the inception of a word.
The recovery phase is a readable format of your private key, which is the only access to spend the fund in a wallet. In the event that you misplace your hardware wallet, you can always spend the funds in the wallet using the phrase.
Bluetooth pairing with your device
The Nano device’s Bluetooth is always enabled by default, to pair with your mobile or desktop device. To do this tap on the name of your Ledger Nano to pair.
- Make sure the Bluetooth pairing code on your phone is the same as on your Ledger wallet. To confirm pairing, press both buttons on the Ledger Nano device.
- Once paired, allow “Ledger Manager” by pressing both buttons. This makes your Ledger Nano securely paired with Ledger Live.
At this point, your device should be synched with your hardware wallet and you are ready to manage your crypto portfolio more securely.
Ledger wallet security best practice
With hardware wallets like the Ledger, you have full control of your private key, which is saved in the device. However, there are some security best practices to ensure that your funds are not stolen, under certain circumstances.
- Always order your wallet directly from the company. Click here to visit the Ledger wallet official order page.
- Avoid buying an already used wallet, especially from sources you do not trust.
- Before configuring a new Ledger wallet you should take note of the following guidelines:
- Make sure you are the only one with access to your recovery phrase.
- Never store your recovery phrase on a phone, website, or other internet-enabled devices.
- It’s best to store the recovery phrase physically to avoid malware attacks.
In June of 2020, there was a rumored hack of the Ledger wallet sales database. While it passed a lot of fear across the Ledger wallet community, the hackers only got access to Ledger wallet’s customer sales details. These are details like shipment addresses, email addresses of buyers, newsletter subscription email details.
The good news is that Ledger does not keep a record of its users’ private key besides its sales and newsletter. The ledger hardware wallet is amongst the pioneering and most trusted hardware wallets out there.