The cryptocurrency market is booming, with hundreds of thousands of new traders are entering the fray due to Bitcoin’s historic Q4 2017 run. It’s no secret that cryptocurrency investing is a high-profit endeavor, but the rapidly-growing cryptocurrency market is an extremely risky environment for traders that don’t take security seriously.
The immutable nature of distributed ledger technology means that once cryptocurrency transactions occur, they can’t be reversed. While this is a major draw of cryptocurrency, it can become troublesome for users that don’t maintain a proactive stance toward security.
A cryptocurrency wallet consists of two elements— a public address, and a private key. The private key of a cryptocurrency wallet is all that is needed to access the capital it contains. If your private key becomes compromised, then it’s time to say “sayonara” to all of your Bitcoin— or whatever cryptocurrency the wallet holds.
- 1 The Importance of Wallet Security
- 2 What is the Ledger Nano S?
- 3 What’s in the Box?
- 4 Ease of Use
- 5 Design
- 6 Supported Cryptocurrencies
- 7 Security
- 8 Where to Buy Ledger Nano S Hardware Wallets
- 9 How to Use the Ledger Nano S
- 10 Ledger Nano S Price
- 11 The Verdict
The Importance of Wallet Security
There are now thousands of different scams, hacking attempts, phishing websites, and other malicious attacks that attempt to separate unsuspecting investors from their cryptocurrency. Never assume that your cryptocurrency is safe— especially not if it’s held in a hosted wallet, such as an exchange or a brokerage like Coinbase.
There have been many high-profile exchange hacks that have resulted in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency, such as the infamous Mt. Gox hack or the DAO hack. More recently, Japanese exchange Coincheck was hacked to the tune of over $500 million.
Users that hold cryptocurrency in “hot” or hosted wallets place their investment at the mercy of the security practices of the platform that holds it for them. In many cases, this security is inefficient. The best way to manage your cryptocurrency and eliminate the threat of exchange hacks and other security threats is to use a “cold” wallet that is completely disconnected from the internet.
There are many cold wallets that can be installed on both computers and smartphones, giving users control over their private keys. While this solution is a good way to prevent losses from hot wallet hacks, it doesn’t eliminate the threat of a malicious party gaining access to your device.
The most secure method of storing cryptocurrency is with a hardware wallet. These solutions are designed from the ground up to function as completely independent physical devices built solely for secure cryptocurrency storage, and are completely immune to hacking attacks.
There are a number of different hardware wallets available on the market today, but the most popular option by far is the Ledger Nano S. In this Ledger Nano S review, we’ll strip down the Nano S and find out what it offers users, how it works, and provide a basic breakdown of how to use Ledger Nano S devices to help you keep your cryptocurrency investment safe.
What is the Ledger Nano S?
Cryptocurrency is a powerful tool, as it puts complete control over your currency into your own hands— but many traders and investors forget that this includes security as well as storage. The Ledger Nano S can be considered a “bank vault for crypto”, and makes it possible to store your cryptocurrency offline in a small device roughly the size of a USB drive.
As a hardware wallet, the Ledger Nano S is designed to securely store the private keys that are used to access a wallet. The Ledger Nano S stores the private key of a wallet and never exposes it— not even to the computer that is used to access it.
Ledger, the company that manufactures the Nano S, was founded in France in 2014 and has rapidly developed a reputation as a creator of highly secure, reliable cryptocurrency storage devices. Public opinion of the Ledger Nano S is extremely positive.
The Ledger Nano itself is small device equipped with an OLED display that is used when interacting with the device, as well as physical buttons that add an extra layer of security when transferring funds. The Nano S is extremely easy to set up and use, which is appealing to newer cryptocurrency investors, and supports a wide range of cryptocurrencies.
The only drawback to the Ledger Nano S is that in order to store cryptocurrency on it you’ll need to download and install a specific app for each token. As the Nano S has limited on-board space, it’s only possible to install two or three of these apps on the device at each time.
Investors seeking streamlined support for a diverse range of altcoins are likely better off with another option, such as the Trezor. Crypto investors and traders seeking highly secure support for high market cap cryptos such as Ethereum or Bitcoin, however, will find the Ledger Nano S ideal for their security needs.
What’s in the Box?
The Ledger Nano S ships with a security-sealed wrapped pack. Some other devices, such as the Trezor, ship with a security seal, but as the Nano S possesses built-in anti-tamper software that will alert a user if it has been tampered with during shipping, Ledger offers a greater level of supply chain security.
It’s extremely important to ensure that you either purchase a Ledger Nano S directly from Ledger or from a reputable Amazon seller. Never purchase a second-hand hardware wallet, as it’s highly likely the device has been tampered with.
In the Ledger Nano S box you’ll find the device itself, a usb cable, keychain, lanyard, an instruction card, and a recovery card. The packaging itself is decidedly minimalist and is similar in design to Apple products.
Ease of Use
The Ledger Nano S boasts an extremely fluid user experience. Setting up Ledger Nano S hardware wallet is extremely simple— we’ll provide a basic rundown on this process deeper into this review. The Nano S works in a similar manner to most hardware wallets on the market today, and can be set up in just 2 to 3 minutes.
After setting up the Nano S, users will need to install an application for the specific cryptocurrency they want to store on their device. It’s also necessary to install PC software in order to transfer cryptocurrency to the wallet. Ledger provides a chrome extension and other solutions for this purpose, but it’s also possible to use a range of different third party wallets that are designed to integrate with the Nano S, like MyEtherWallet.
The Ledger Nano S can be used to send and receive payments, check account details, and manage multiple wallet addresses. Ledger’s Chrome extension makes Nano S management streamlined and intuitive, and doesn’t require the extensive study of instructions to understand. Overall, the Ledger Nano S is arguably the easiest to use hardware wallet on the market.
The Nano S boasts a robust design. Each Nano S looks and feels similar to a USB drive, albeit with a little more weight and a built-in screen. The Nano S is protected by a steel housing that swivels on a mount, protecting the device itself from scratches and bumps.
The device fits easily into a palm or onto a key chain, but if you’re not in the habit of storing vast amounts of cryptocurrency capital next to your car keys, it’s best to keep your Ledger Nano S locked up somewhere secure.
Each Nano S is equipped with two hardware buttons, which are used to confirm transactions and operate the device without a PC. Overall, the Nano S is one of the best-looking and sleekest hardware wallet on the market, second only to the Ledger Blue, Ledger’s premium wallet solution.
To store cryptocurrencies on the Ledger Nano S, users must install the relevant app. Via this app system, the Ledger Nano S stores 34 different cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Zcash, Dash, NEO, Stellar Lumens, and more. Ledger Nano S altcoins support is also strong, and easily added via the app functionality.
The Nano S provides support for a number of coins that can be difficult to store on other devices. Ledger Nano S Neo support, Ledger Bitcoin Gold support, and Ledger Bitcoin Cash support is highly functional and easy to set up. The Ledger Ripple wallet app and the Ledger Nano S Monero wallets are also extremely intuitive.
A full list of Ledger Nano S supported coins can be found below:
As security is the main draw of the Ledger Nano S, it’s important to understand exactly how the device keeps your cryptocurrency investment safe. When setting up the device, users will be required to choose a PIN. This PIN is used to secure the device in case it becomes lost— after three incorrect PIN entries, the Nano S will wipe itself.
This may be cause for concern— placing a million-dollar crypto investment at the mercy of a few incorrect PIN entries is definitely alarming— but fortunately the device uses a 24-word “recovery phrase” that can be used to regain access to the wallet should it ever be lost or destroyed.
Users are supplied with this 24-word phrase when setting up their ledger for the first time, and are prompted to store it on paper to eliminate the risk of it falling into the wrong hands. For those interested in a fireproof, waterproof, shockproof, almost indestructible method of storing recovery phases, Ledger also offers the very cool Cryptosteel solution.
In order to approve transactions, users of the Ledger Nano S must press two physical buttons on the device at the same time, ensuring that no hacker could ever gain access to the device and confirm a payment without being physically present.
The screen of the Ledger Nano S provides an extra layer of verification when sending payments, making it easy to ensure that the payment you’re sending is the right amount, to the right address. Ledger, the manufacturer of the Nano S, has a strong reputation in the cryptocurrency industry. Importantly, the Nano S is completely open-source, which means it’s been vetted by the extremely stringent cryptocurrency community at large.
The Ledger Nano S also lacks a battery or any kind of radio communication device, ensuring that when it’s disconnected from a computer it’s completely inert, offline, and unhackable.
Ledger have also recently released a highly innovative new security feature called “plausible deniability”. This feature is intended to provide another layer of security to users that face the threat of physical coercion to give their PIN code. These kinds of robberies are becoming more frequent, and have recently occurred in both the UK and Thailand.
The plausible deniability feature provides users with the ability to set two different PINs. The first provides access to the main wallet of the device, while the second provides access to a hidden wallet that is used for large savings. In the event a user is forced to reveal their PIN, they are able to provide the PIN to the smaller account, protecting their cryptocurrency holdings and wellbeing. At a later date, users can simply restore their wallet— and the larger amount of their capital— with the seed phrase.
Where to Buy Ledger Nano S Hardware Wallets
It’s possible to purchase Ledger Nano S hardware wallets via the Ledger website. Ledger Nano S Amazon listings also offer a range of reputable sellers that are often competitive prices, but for peace of mind we recommend using the official website. The image below displays the current price and will take you directly to the genuine Ledger site to purchase:
How to Use the Ledger Nano S
Setting up Ledger Nano S hardware wallet is relatively simple and can be achieved in just a few minutes. We’ll now run through the setup process involved in getting started with the Ledger Nano S.
In order to set up your Ledger Nano S you’ll need to plug it into a computer via the provided USB cable and turn it on. The Nano S will direct your browser to a URL with some basic guidance on how to start.
The first step in starting the Nano S is to establish a four-digit PIN code. This is configured on the device itself using the two physical buttons on the side. The left or right button will move the number selection up or down respectively while pressing both buttons at the same time will lock in your choice and allow you to move to the next number.
Once you’ve chosen and locked in your PIN, your Ledger Nano S will provide you with your 24-word recovery phrase. Write them down on the card provided in the Ledger Nano S packaging, and don’t lose them. These words are critical if your wallet is lost or stolen.
After you’ve recorded your recovery seed phrase, the Nano S will test four of the words back with you – you’ll need to confirm these words with the device to move on to the next step. After you’ve performed this quick set up process, you’ll be provided with the message “Your Device is Now Ready”.
The easiest way to interact with your Ledger Nano S is to install the Ledger Chrome browser addon. The URL the Ledger directed you to upon launch will provide you with the links needed to install these apps, beginning with the Ledger Manager. This app is then used to install the various Ledger Nano S apps used to store cryptocurrency on the device.
The Ledger can generally support up to five different apps at one time. Using the Ledger Manager app, select the relevant apps to the cryptocurrencies you wish to store and click the green download button next to each.
Ledger provides three different Chrome browser apps for Bitcoin, Ripple, and Ethereum. The Bitcoin app, for example, is extremely easy to install and use. Once you’ve installed the Ledger Bitcoin Chrome app, you’ll need to run it and enter your PIN code into your Nano S. After this step you’ll be able to create a Bitcoin address. From here sending and receiving BTC to your Ledger Nano S is relatively simple, with the app providing users with QR codes for streamlined transactions.
Using the Ledger Nano S with MyEtherWallet
The Ledger Ethereum Chrome app is suitable for simple use, but it’s generally regarded as a better option to use MyEtherWallet to transfer Ethereum to the Ledger Nano S wallet. The MyEtherWallet solution, which has recently forked into MyEtherWallet and MyCrypto, is a powerful, secure, and free application that can be used to store and manage both Ethereum and ERC20 standard tokens.
Sending or receiving transactions from MyEtherWallet or MyCrypto is extremely simple, but requires an additional step in order to allow browser-based transactions from these sources to access the device.
Enable Browser Support on Ledger Nano S Hardware Wallets
Enabling browser support on the Ledger Nano S is necessary in order for it to work with MyEtherWallet, MyCrypto, Copay, or Greenaddress. To enable it, connect your Nano S and scroll with the right button to find the “settings” menu.
Once you’ve found the settings menu, press both buttons at the same time to open it. Scroll again with the right button until you find “browser support”. Enable it by pressing both buttons at the same time. Note that in order to use your Ledger Nano S with the Ledger Wallet application, Electrum, or Mycelium, you’ll need to disable browser support.
Restoring a Ledger Nano S Wallet Using Recovery Phrase
Should you lose your Ledger Nano S, don’t worry too much! It’s possible to recover everything it contains if you still retain your 24-word seed phrase. The easiest way to restore a Ledger Nano S is with a replacement Nano S during the setup process.
When setting up your new Ledger Nano S, it’s possible to select the “Restore Configuration” option. At this point you’ll need to create a new PIN, which is mandatory. After completing this step, you’ll need to select the number of words in your recovery phrase.
At this point it’s necessary to enter your recovery phrase. This step is performed word by word, letter by letter, using the two physical buttons on the device. Although this process is time-consuming and frustrating, it’s a small price to pay to retrieve the contents of your wallet. If you’ve entered the phrase correctly you’ll be presented with a success notification, at which point your device is completely restored.
Ledger Nano S Price
The Ledger Nano S typically sells for around 79 EUR, which is cheaper than the other hardware wallet solutions on the market today. Ultimately, the price of a Nano S is small compared to the peace of mind it delivers in knowing that your cryptocurrency investment is safe from hacking attacks, but if you’re intent on saving some capital. We’ve tried looking for promo codes but couldn’t find any, you can get the best deal below at their official website:
Overall, the Ledger Nano S is the ideal hardware wallet solution for beginner, intermediate, and even advanced cryptocurrency investors. The device is tough, streamlined, and low-profile, and ensures that all cryptocurrency stored on it is completely safe from hackers and other malicious parties.
While it may appear to be counterintuitive to place all of your eggs in one basket, the Nano S keeps your private keys secure— even from you— and allows users to restore their devices via the seed phrase recovery method. The new plausible deniability feature is a massive draw to those concerned about the threat of physical intimidation into divulging their hardware wallet PIN.
Ledger provides ongoing updates and support for Nano S users to ensure they are kept up with the latest market and technological developments in the blockchain world, and consistently adds new, innovative features. If you’re looking for the most secure method of storing your cryptocurrency the Ledger Nano S is one of the best options available. Use this link to purchase directly from Ledger’s official site.