What is an Abra recovery phrase and why is it important?

Abra bitcoin wallet private key recovery phrase

Every Abra wallet is a bitcoin wallet that is used to store, send, and receive money. Like all bitcoin wallets, Abra uses special codes called “private keys” to authorize transactions. Anyone who has the private key to a bitcoin wallet can authorize transfers to other wallets. It is therefore very important to keep the private keys to your wallet safe and secure, away from prying eyes, in case anything happens to your wallet.

Abra provides users the private keys to their wallet using a recovery phrase. The recovery phrase, sometimes called a “wallet seed” or “backup phrase”, consists of thirteen words that need to be written down and stored in a safe place. If anything happens to a user’s Abra wallet or the phone that the wallet is installed on, the recovery phrase can be used to restore and recover all funds stored in the wallet.

Without the recovery phrase, users will lose their funds if anything happens to their wallet.

It is therefore very important to us that users are made aware of the risk and are diligent about verifying that they have saved a copy of their recovery phrase.

We recently implemented some important changes to how the Abra wallet’s private key recovery phrase is presented to users. Users are first introduced to the recovery phrase concept when they create their Abra wallet, and are then given a set number of reminders before Abra requires them to verify that they have saved their recovery phrase.

We call this system “Educate, Remind, Enforce.” Our goal with this system is to ensure that users have a copy of their recovery phrase that can be used to recover their funds.

When you are ready to verify that you have saved a copy of your recovery phrase, the steps to take are quick and easy.

Step 1. Show your recovery phrase

There are several opportunities to have the app show you your recovery phrase, including when you first install the app, when you are reminded to verify your recovery phrase, and when you press the “Backup” button in the main menu of the app.

When you select the option to show your recovery phrase, you will be shown a screen with thirteen words to copy. These thirteen words are your recovery phrase. The recovery phrase is unique to your phone – no one else has a copy.

Step 2. Write down a copy of your recovery phrase

Write down the recovery phrase on a piece of paper and store it in a safe place, such as the same place you store your birth certificate, cash savings, and other valuables.

You may be tempted to take a screenshot but if you lose your phone, you may also lose your recovery phrase. Remember that anything stored online is more vulnerable to hacking. See https://bitcoin.org/en/secure-your-wallet for some additional tips.

Step 3. Verify that you have saved a copy of your recovery phrase

Once you have stored a copy of your recovery phrase in a safe place, go to the next screen and type the words back into the app in the correct order, then press the “Confirm phrase” button to verify your recovery phrase. If you typed it correctly, you will receive a confirmation notification.

Your wallet is now protected!

After you have verified your recovery phrase, you will no longer receive reminders to verify your recovery phrase. You can now use the copy that you saved to recover the funds in your wallet if you get a new phone or have to reinstall the Abra app for any reason.

 

13 thoughts on “What is an Abra recovery phrase and why is it important?

  1. I wish I would have done this. I lost only $50, but lesson learned. Thanks for addressing this issue. Huge Abra supporter.

    1. Sorry to hear that happened Kurt, we hope these changes will make that much less likely in the future. And thanks for your support!

  2. I plan to store my recovery phrase at the bottom of a biscuit jar – 100% immune from hacking but, yes, not snacking. Please explain how Abra protects its copy of my recovery phrase and private keys. The release of the NSA hacking software and the resultant WannaCry infection is very disconcerting. Thank you for your response.

    1. Hi Bruce, Abra does not have access to your recovery phrase. The recovery phrase is stored on your phone and never sent to Abra’s servers. So you have to make sure you keep your copy safe.

        1. Hi Mike, you have to write the backup phrase down as instructed in Step 2 of the blog post above. That way if you lose your phone or have to uninstall the app for any reason, you will not lose the funds stored in your wallet

    1. Hi George, double-check to make sure that 1. you have written down all of the words in the correct order 2. all of the words are spelled correctly 3. all the letters are typed in lower-case with spaces between each word. If you have tried this and it still does not work, please create a support ticket by pressing the “Contact us” button in the app so our customer support team can help you trouble shoot.

  3. For anyone who has more passphrases than they can remember (me!), I would recommend the use of a password manager. There are many out in the market, some free, some not-so-free. The commercial ones have more bells and whistles but I am very satisfied with the free pen I chose; I tend to prefer established open-source solutions but others’ requirements may differ from my own.

    One just needs to remember one strong passphrase (hint: length not necessarily complexity, https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2011/12/how-to-create-a-strong-password-and-remember-it/index.htm) and can even have some of those password managers create super-strong password that one does not need to ever remember again. There are some solutions that are platform agnostic; it works on smartphones and desktops/laptops. And, of course, make backups of the password manager’s database file and refresh copies regularly. Because of a healthy sense of paranoia, I even store secret questions and answers in them because those questions are of a personal nature, and because of almost everything being online, it’s not that hard to figure out my middle name, for example … so I make the answer as difficult as my password!

    On another note, perhaps Mike was trying to determine (or maybe it is just me) how a 13-word passphrase can recover the Wallet that has been lost due to a smartphone crash or destruction or migrating to a new smartphone. Would my question be more clear – and maybe I don’t understand the underpinnings of the blockchain – if I were to ask how the Wallet is reconstructed or reconstituted from just those thirteen words?

    Are they in the blockchain?

    Are they in Abra’s servers?

    Thanks.

    1. Hello Allen,

      Basically, the private keys are separate from the blockchain or servers. Please do note that we do not have access to user private keys nor do we store them anywhere and our private keys are 13-words. We use hierarchical deterministic wallets that use a random 12 word mnemonic using English words. The mnemonic phrase can be converted to a number which is used as the seed to a deterministic wallet that generates all the key pairs used in the wallet. Basically, the private key or security phrase is unique and accessible using the wallet’s functionality to restore the balance. All bitcoin transactions (assuming they’re the same wallet that has hierarchical deterministic functionality and does not change) are tied to a private key. Once you restore a wallet using a private key, you will have access to your funds, as they are tied to it.

      Here are further resources:
      https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Mnemonic_phrase
      https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Deterministic_wallet

      Regards,
      Max

  4. i just want to now if thers a fee if i transfer a fund to other wallet address like mining pool or trading
    Please replay on this thank you

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