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In this post we are going to cover:

  • 10 steps on how to setup Ledger
  • How to reset Ledger Nano S and Nano X
  • What to do if you lose Ledger Nano hardware wallet

Plus more... Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to setup Ledger Nano S and Nano X.


To setup your Ledger Nano S, plug in the device to your computer’s USB port. You may use the cable in the box or any USB to micro USB adapter cable. For security, it’s always a good idea to use a general-purpose cable that you can trust.

Ledger USB connected to laptop

The next step is to go to Ledger.com and download the software. In the top-left side of the screen you will see the “Downloads” button. Press it, then proceed to select the Ledger Live version for your operating system. The Ledger Live software is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Info: Also, you will find a mobile app for iOS and Android. Please note that this app is only for the Ledger Nano X, which has bluetooth connectivity.

After downloading the Ledger Live desktop app, proceed to install it. It’s going to be a quick process, but the software won’t work unless you also configure your Ledger Nano S.

Move your attention the screen of your hardware wallet. Once plugged, it will say “Welcome” and “Press both buttons to begin”. Proceed and press the buttons.

Info: Next, you will receive on-screen instructions about how the buttons work. The left and right buttons are useful for navigation and changing values. Pressing them both at the same time is a confirmation.

Once you go through this instruction phase, you will see a new message on the screen. It reads “Configure as new device?”. If you’re setting it up for the first time, then press the right button. If you want to go to the “Restore Configuration” menu of your Ledger Nano S, press the left button.

In our case, assuming that this is your first setup process, we will configure as new device.

COMPARISON

Ledger Nano X

Ledger Nano X

  • SCREEN:
  • RELEASED: 2019
  • PRICE: $119
  • BLUETOOTH:
Ledger Nano S

Ledger Nano S

  • SCREEN:
  • RELEASED: 2016
  • PRICE: $59
Trezor Model T

Trezor Model T

  • SCREEN:
  • RELEASED: 2018
  • PRICE: $159
  • TOUCH SCREEN:

Step 1: Create a PIN code for your Ledger Nano S

After the confirmation, you will receive a request to set a PIN code. Press both buttons at the same time to confirm and continue.

On the Ledger Nano S, PIN codes are 8 digits long. To complete this step of the setup, you will have to use 8 numbers from 0 to 9. For example, you can use 01234567. Yet it’s recommended to avoid any code that is common and easy to guess. At the same time, make sure you pick a code that you can remember and write it down.

Choose PIN code

In the box of your Ledger Nano S you can also find a bunch of cards named “Recovery Sheet”. You can use those to write down your PIN code so you don’t lose it. But for operation security reasons, it’s always better to use a notebook or a separate piece of paper. If you want to write it on steel so it’s resistant to fire, water, shocks, and hackers, you may consider a Billfodl.

Billfodl product

On the screen of your Ledger Nano S, you will have to pick the 8 numbers. You pick one at a time using the two buttons, and then press both at the same time to confirm your choice. This section is great to help you learn how the controls work. The left button decreases the number, while the right button increases it.

Also you have a backspace choice which helps you return to the previous digit. This helps you correct mistakes and make sure that you PIN you input is the one you intend.

Step 2: Confirm your PIN code

After you have picked the 8th number of your PIN code, the next screen tells you to confirm your PIN. You will have to type in the entire code once again, using the exact same methods.

Confirm PIN code

This step makes sure that you don’t set a faulty PIN that you won’t remember later. Ledger Nano S is a great device for security which also protects you against your own mistakes.

Step 3: Write down your recovery phrase

If the PIN code is the key to your device, then the recovery phrase is the key to your coins. So you must pay extra attention to this step and make sure you type every word as written on screen.

Ledger Nano S recovery sheet

Furthermore, keep the recovery phrase safe and protect it the best that you can. Anyone who finds the words can back up your wallet on another device and spend your bitcoins. So the security of these 24 words is essential for your financial sovereignty.

ledger-logo

When you own crypto, what you really own is a private key. You need to secure it to secure your funds. Ledger offers the best level of protection: your key remains protected in a certified secure chip.


The words that make up your recovery phrase are part of the BIP 38 dictionary. A unique permutation of 24 of the 4096 words will get generated for you, and you have to write them down one at a time. You can generate as many wallets as you want, but the Ledger Nano S will only be able to access one at a time.

After each word gets displayed on the screen, you must write it down and then press the right navigation key. If you skip a word by mistake, you can return to it by pressing the left button. After the 24th word, you will have to push both buttons at the same time to confirm and move to the next screen.

Save the recovery phrase

This is the part where you can use the Recovery Cards that you receive in the box of your Ledger hardware wallet. But for natural hazard resistance and more privacy, you should get a Billfodl. If you don’t want to rely on the fragility of paper, you should consider our metal plate backup device.

Advice: Very important: make sure you also write down the number of each of the 24 words. Not only that it's important to understand the order of your recovery phrase – it will also help you in the next part.

Step 4: Confirm your recovery phrase

In this section, you have to confirm the order of your 24 words. The Ledger Nano S scrambles their order, and you must use the navigation keys to find them.

Once you find the first word, press both buttons at the same time to confirm it. This is the most time-consuming step of this setup, but also an essential one. If you have made any mistakes when you wrote down your recovery phrase, you will find them now.

Setup words in recovery phrase

In the event that you find mistakes, you may try again. But if you can’t figure it out, then it’s better to return to the previous menu. Another way is to unplug your Ledger Nano S and connect it once again. This hard reset will make you restart the setup process and you may pay more attention the second time.

Info: During this section you also discover a navigation trick on your Ledger Nano S holding down the button helps you scroll faster. This is essential while trying to get to the next word. But if you want to stay in control of each scroll and avoid slippery mistakes, it's still better to keep pressing.

If you get every word right, then you will receive the message “Your device is now ready”. Now you’re finally prepared to move to the next step, which involves the Ledger Live software. At this point, you should have already downloaded and installed Ledger Live. If you didn’t follow this guide step by step, then you should download it now.

Step 5: Open Ledger Live

The message on the screen of your Ledger Nano S should read “Install apps on your Ledger device using the instructions at start.ledgerwallet.com”. At this point, it’s time to open Ledger Live (which you should have downloaded and installed by now).

Ledger Live application

First of all, you will see a screen which asks you to choose the color of your theme. This decision only impacts your user experience, so feel free to pick your favorite. For a convenient mix between light and dark, pick “Dusk”. If you prefer bright and well-lit menus, you can’t go wrong with “Light” mode. And if you’re a dark mode elitist, then the decision should be obvious for you. Once you’ve made your first decision, click the “Get started” button.

Screenshot of ledger.com
Ledger.com - Interface first look

On your computer screen you will see the initialization menu. You can initialize as a new device, restore a recovery phrase, or use an already initialized device. In our case, we have already initialized the Ledger Nano S. We thus pick the third option.

Ledger Live also allows you to set up your hardware wallet from their desktop interface. Yet it’s better to do it on your Ledger Nano S. Not only that it’s a more secure setup, but you also get used to the controls. All transactions need confirmation from the device, so you need to learn how to push the buttons.

Pick hardware wallet model

Step 6: Use an already initialized device

At first, the Ledger Live interface will ask you to pick your hardware wallet model. Since you own a Ledger Nano S, you should click on it and proceed to the next menu.

Setup Ledger harware wallet

The second step from this process is a security checklist. Here you must confirm that you have picked the PIN code by yourself and have saved your recovery phrase. It’s Ledger’s way of making sure that you have followed all the steps and you have your data backed up.

To avoid supply chain attacks, Ledger Live also checks the firmware of your device to see if it’s genuine. For this, you don’t have to do anything but allow the software to perform the verification. For Ledger, it’s important to check that you aren’t using a compromised device. And if you bought your hardware device from an authorized seller, you don’t have to worry about it. It’s most likely genuine.

The third step is about setting a Ledger Live password. This has nothing to do with your on-device PIN, it’s only a way of locking the desktop software. If you don’t want anyone who uses your computer to be able to access your Ledger data, then set a strong password.

Info:If you lose this password, you can do a reset to regain access. Ledger Live is a watch-only software which requires permissions from your hardware wallet. So each time you want to make transactions, you need to validate them by pressing buttons on your Ledger Nano S.

After you set the password, you will get to choose the privacy settings. Under the “Bugs & Analytics” menu you must choose what kind of information you share with Ledger. You can’t opt out from sending anonymous technical data, and you must respect the Terms.

Advice: Yet you can enable or disable analytics and bug reports. If you're privacy-cautious, you should always opt out from those. Your privacy is the first layer which protects your security, so don't compromise it. Especially when you deal with financial assets whose transfers are irreversible.

After you click “Continue”, you will finally see the Ledger Live interface. From here on, it’s all about deciding which coins you want to use.

Screenshot of ledger.com
Ledger Live App - Interface overview

Step 7: Installing Apps with Ledger Live

In the “Manager” menu on the left side of the window, you will finally get to add cryptocurrencies to your wallet. Ledger Nano S offers 120kb of storage capacity, so you need to decide which coins you use. For a Bitcoin-only setup, you have more than enough memory. But a multi-coin setup only allows you to have BTC, ETH, XRP, LTC, ETC, DASH, and XMR.

Ledger live app manager menu

The Ledger Nano S supports hundreds of coins, but one device can only store the apps for a handful. It is thus a good idea to do a wise management of your storage space and set priorities.

To install an ap, you go to the “Manager” menu, type in the first few letter of your coin of choice, and click “Install”. On your Ledger Nano S, you will get asked to confirm the installation. If the device has been idle for several minutes, you will also have to type in your PIN code once again.

Info: These are security features to protect your hardware wallet. You should be the only person to choose what you're installing and storing on it. Welcome to financial sovereignty.

Step 8: Sending and receiving bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies

After installing applications on your Ledger Nano S, you’re all set. Now you can do transactions with bitcoins and all your favorite cryptocurrencies.

In the “Accounts” menu on the left side of the window you will see all your balances. For Bitcoin, you can have both legacy addresses and native SegWit. Ledger offers more information about the two types in this article.

Info: To add a new account, you need to click the blue "Add account" button, then confirm your choice on the hardware wallet. Most of decisions need on-device confirmation for security reasons. Also, make sure that you open the right app to allow the synchronization with Ledger Live.

In the “Privacy” chapter of the Bitcoin whitepaper, Satoshi Nakamoto discourages address reuse. This is why Ledger generates a new address each time you receive bitcoins. Keep in mind that older addresses that you generate are still valid. Yet once you received an amount of bitcoins on it, you should not reuse it. For more information, check out Ledger’s documentation.

Step 9: Don’t trust, verify!

The Ledger Nano S prioritizes security. That’s why each time you deal with addresses, you must verify them on the device. It’s very important that for the information on both screens to correspond. This prevents phishing attacks or human errors in which you send to the wrong address.

Whenever you are about to receive bitcoins, the Ledger Nano S asks you to check its validity. Addresses will get generated on the hardware wallet, and transmitted to Ledger Live. This means that in a regular situation where all is well, the information is identical.

Advice: But even in the event of a software attack, you are able to spot the differences and refuse to transact. If the address is not the same both on the screen of the hardware wallet and in Ledger Live, disconnect. You are not coerced to make any transactions unless they're safe. And Ledger Nano S protects you along every step.

When you send coins, you have to review much more than the recipient’s address. Ledger also makes you check the transaction fees. This is essential, as notable mistakes have made some users overpay and lose funds. In March 2020, somebody has paid $82k for an Ethereum transaction. Your Ledger Nano S will make you double check, so this type of mistake can never happen.

Info: The fact that the Ledger Nano S has physical buttons is essential for the validation process. The software itself can't make transactions, and the most a hacker can do is access the MCU of your device. But your transactions won't get signed without the time-tested and hack-resistant security element.

When you click the physical buttons to confirm, you instruct the secure element to sign. And this complex security process is unique to Ledger. The company has brought secure element chips into the hardware wallet market. It was a revolution for physical security and to this day no other major manufacturer uses the same chip. Yet the tradeoff is that you must trust Ledger as a company.

Root of trust

Unlike the Trezor, you can’t verify every line of the code and don’t know what’s going on with the security element. This lack of transparency by design is Ledger’s biggest weakness.

Step 10 (Optional): Upgrade Firmware

Info: The Ledger Nano S firmware is the code that helps the hardware wallet operate. It enables communication between the two chips inside the unit and the computer.

Out of the box, your firmware version is already sturdy and probably safe. To this date, there are very few cases of supply chain attacks on Ledgers. Yet there are lots of software improvements that the manufacturer releases. In the months that pass since the hardware wallet leaves the factory and you buy it, some things change.

In some situations, it might be optimal to keep your Ledger Nano S updated. Especially if the company informs users about terrible bugs or security vulnerabilities. The good news is that the Ledger Live desktop application notifies you about updates.

The update wizard will ask you to keep your Ledger connected and insert the PIN code. Then you will see a message on screen to remove the cable. The next step is to hold the left button on the Ledger pressed and reconnect the cable. If done right, your hardware wallet will enter “Bootloader” mode.

From this point on, all you have to do is wait and let the firmware get updated. After the updated is complete, your Ledger will reboot and you will have to re-enter your PIN code.

Advice: Sometimes the Ledger Nano S has issues during firmware updates. In some cases, everything goes well but you must recover your wallet with the recovery phrase. This is why you should never update the firmware unless you're sure that you backed up your 24 words.

If you need a sturdier and more trusty way of storing your backup words, consider buying a Billfodl.

When updating the Ledger Nano S, there are unfortunate situations where it all goes wrong. Due to various factors, it may corrupt your hardware wallet and need a “repair” process. The two most common on-screen errors are “MCU firmware is outdated” and “MCU firmware is not genuine”. They tend to happen when an update fails.

On-scree-errors

Don’t worry, though: there are 9 different ways in which you can fix the problem. And you can find them all in great detail in this article. At the end of the process, your Ledger Nano S will work like new and also run the latest firmware.

COMPARISON

Ledger Nano X

Ledger Nano X

  • SCREEN:
  • RELEASED: 2019
  • PRICE: $119
  • BLUETOOTH:
Ledger Nano S

Ledger Nano S

  • SCREEN:
  • RELEASED: 2016
  • PRICE: $59
Trezor Model T

Trezor Model T

  • SCREEN:
  • RELEASED: 2018
  • PRICE: $159
  • TOUCH SCREEN:

Reset Ledger

Are you planning to give someone your Ledger Nano S and need to prepare the device for its new owner? Or maybe you just bought one and want to reset it because you are done exploring it and want to start using it?

Info: Whatever the situation is, know that resetting your Ledger Nano S will remove all the private keys, applications, and personal settings from the device. So, if you have any coins stored on it, make sure to backup your private keys and recovery phrase before you continue.

You should always backup your recovery phrase anyway.

There are two ways to reset a Ledger Nano S.

From PIN Code

The Ledger Nano S has an inbuilt security feature that resets the device if you enter a wrong PIN code three times in a row. To reset your Ledger Nano S using this method, just:

  • Turn on the device by connecting it to a computer via the USB cable. The device will ask for your PIN code to unlock it.
  • Enter an incorrect PIN code. Repeat this three times in a row.
  • Your Ledger Nano S will reset after the third incorrect attempt as a security measure.
Screenshot of ledger.com
Ledger.com - Interface first look

From Settings Menu

The other option is to reset the device from the settings menu. To do this

  • Connect the Ledger Nano S via the USB to turn it on.
  • Enter your PIN code to unlock it
  • From the dashboard, go to Settings and press the two buttons to validate.
  • Select “Security” and press both buttons again to validate.
  • Choose “Reset all” by pressing both buttons.
  • A warning will be displayed on the screen. Press the right button to scroll down and read it.
  • Press both buttons to Reset all.
  • Enter your PIN code for confirmation. Your Ledger Nano S will be reset.

Once you’ve reset your Ledger Nano S, you can safely hand it over to its new owner. You can also set it up as a new device or you can restore it as an old device with the associated recovery phrase.

Lost Ledger

Having your cryptoassets secured in digital hardware is considered a best practice. It is an excellent way to secure your coins and tokens long term. That is the major reason the Ledger Nano S and other hardware wallets are so popular now. But what happens when you lose your Ledger Nano S?

This is a question that has been asked by concerned users on different forums. Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad info out there you will want to avoid. Here, we will briefly discuss the right things to do if you lose your Ledger Nano S.

1. Don’t Panic

Most people who lose their Ledger Nano are concerned that they may have lost their coins.

Info: However, if you lose your Ledger Nano wallet, your coins are not necessarily lost.

2. Find your recovery phrase

It is easy to recover all of your cryptoassets as long as you have access to your 24-word recovery seed.

You likely wrote this phrase down on a piece of paper when you set up your ledger for the first time.

What is this recovery phrase?

The hardware wallet does not really store your cryptocurrency. The assets are all stored on the Blockchain. You might be wondering what the Nano S is storing, then.

Info: The Nano S is only storing the private keys to the address where the coins are held on chain.And the recovery phrase is just a way to regenerate the private key. It is a backup of your coins.

3. Enter Your Recovery Phrase into a New Wallet

You have two options once you locate your recovery phrase:

The first is to wait until you get a new hardware wallet and then recover your assets into it. The second is to immediately import your recovery seed into a software wallet, like blockstream green or mycelium.

Advice: If you think that someone may have had access to your four-digit PIN code on your Nano S or X, you should immedietely enter your recovery phrase into a new wallet of any kind, and then create a new wallet and move the coins to the new wallet. This is also true if you think someone may know your recovery phrase.

Warning: Anyone who knows your pin or your recovery phrase, can steal your coins.

However, if someone stole you Nano S and does not know your four digit pin, you are probably safe. Both the Ledger Nano S and X both wipe themselves clean if the PIN is entered incorrectly 3 times.

If you don’t have a spare hardware wallet nearby, you can order a replacement Ledger Nano S. It is worth reiterating that you do not have to recover coins on a Ledger Nano S. You could use any wallet app or hardware wallet to do this.

Screenshot of ledger.com
Ledger.com's Shop Section

Securing the 24 word recovery seed is the most critical hardware wallet security practice. It will help you recover your assets and keep them safe even after losing your Ledger Nano S or another hardware wallet. You shouldn’t panic when you lose your wallet. Rather, order a new wallet immediately, recover your cryptoassets using another wallet, and then create a new wallet with a new recovery phrase.

Screenshot of ledger.com
Ledger.com - Interface first look

FAQ

How does the Ledger work?

Ledger Nano S works works pretty like any hardware wallet. First, you plug it into your computer, set it up, then you choose a PIN code to protect the device from unwanted access. Then you will receive a 24-word seed phrase whici is your private key.

Is Ledger Live Safe?

Ledger Nano S and Ledger Nano X use the Secure Element (the most secure chip to protect you from attacks). Both devices keep your private key secure and will remain safe from online hacks.

How do I know if my Ledger Nano S is genuine?

You have to make sure that your device was not preconfigured with a PIN code that you did not choose yourself. When you turn it on for the first time, the device should display ‘Welcome to Ledger Nano S’.

What happens if Ledger Nano S breaks?

You should order a replacement and use your recovery seed phrases into your new device.

Can you use Ledger Nano S on multiple computers?

Yes, you can install Ledger Live application on multiple devices (computers, smartphones), taking into consideration that you need to set up your accounts and settings on each of these devices.

Is Ledger Nano S a cold wallet?

Yes, Ledger Nano S is a cold wallet that can store Bitcoin, Ethereum and other supported coins.

How many coins can Ledger Nano S hold?

Ledger Nano S supports 26 coins and more than 1500 tokens.

Does Ledger Nano S have a battery?

No, it doesn’t have a battery. It is automatically turned on when it is plugged into a power source (computer or wallet).