Setting up a Ledger Nano S Hardware Wallet

I am grateful for the people who create cryptocurrency hardware wallets, but so frustrated at their pitifully insufficient instructions on how to set up and use them if you’re not a tech savant. I suffered through the trials and errors of setting up my Ledger Nano S hardware wallet (you can marvel at my endurance through this tribulation here).

Here is my succinct guide of how to initiate and set up the Nano S wallet if you’re not a programmer or in FinTech but just a regular schmo trying to protect your crypto assets.

When you open the Ledger Nano S box and are ready to set it up, do this first:

  • Think up a PIN that is between 4 and 8 digits (numbers only).
  • Get the Backup card with 24 numbered lines on it (the Nano S calls this the “Recovery Phrase”)
  • Get a GOOD WORKING PEN (fine tip because some words are long and the space is small)
  • Have a good Internet connection
  • Have a Laptop/Desktop computer (probably works on a tablet too)
  • Have a Chrome browser on your computer
  • Have about 2 hours (will be much less than this if all goes well but %$#! happens)

Plug the USB cord into the Nano S device and the other end into the computer. The device’s tiny LCD screen gives a lesson on how to navigate its interface with its two buttons: Push the Left button to scroll left, push the Right button to scroll right, push BOTH buttons to select something.

After the tutorial you’ll be prompted to enter a PIN. Use the tiny LCD screen and two buttons to enter your PIN. The first digit starts at 0, use the right button to go up by 1. When the number you want as your first digit appears on the little LCD screen, push BOTH buttons, and it moves onto the second digit. If you went too far, keep pushing one button until you see the number you want. After entering the 4th digit, the tiny LCD screen will show a checkmark. If you only have a 4-digit PIN, push both buttons down to select the checkmark – this tells the device you’re finished entering your PIN. If you have more digits in your Pin, use the Right button to scroll past the checkmark and you’ll see a zero, then a 1, then a 2… keep scrolling until you see the digit you want, then push both buttons. The tiny LCD again will show a checkmark. If you only wanted a 5-digit PIN, push both buttons to select the checkmark. Otherwise, use the Right button to scroll through the numbers until you see the number you want. Keep doing this until you have the PIN you want (maximum 8 numbers).If you get to the 8th digit, the Nano S device will not prompt you with more number options. When you enter all of the numbers the LCD prompts you to enter your PIN again to make sure what you input is what you meant to input.

Next, the tiny LCD will prompt you to “write down the recovery phrase” which means get that card with 24 numbered lines on it and a good working fine tip pen. Use the Right button to see the first word. When you wrote it down on the card in space #1, use the Right button to see the next word. When you wrote it on the card in space #2, use the Right button to see the next word. Repeat until all 24 words are written down. At the end of the 24th word, there is no prompt. You should use the Left button to double-check your words (in reverse order). Once you get past word #1, it asks if you want to verify

After scrolling through the words, the interface did not give me a prompt to continue. I pushed the Right button, but nothing happened. So I pushed the Left button, and it scrolled through the words in reverse order. When I got to the first word again, I pushed the Left button one more time, and it quizzed me on the words I just saw: What was word #13? Then it prompted me to scroll through a bunch of random words until I saw the word I wrote in space 13. When I saw the word, I pushed both buttons. Then it asked me to identify word #22. I scrolled through the options until I saw the word I wrote in space #22. I pushed both buttons to select it. Then it told me the device has been configured and is ready to use.

But it’s not really ready yet.

You need to get on a computer with a Chrome browser and go to

At the top menu bar, click on the Apps link. First you must download the LEDGER MANAGER App. It’s on the right under “Ledger Manager Apps”. This is a Chrome Extension that’s about 2 MB. With a mediocre Internet connection it will install in about 5 minutes.

Next, you must download the specific wallets you need to use. Download the Bitcoin Wallet if you plan to store on your Nano S any Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, or coins derived from a Bitcoin Blockchain (I have no idea how you know what’s derived from a Bitcoin Blockchain so I suggest you assume you will need it and download it). This is an extension to your Chrome browser so it’s not very big and doesn’t take long to install.

Download the Ethereum Wallet if you plan to store on your Nano S any Ethereum or coins derived from an Ethereum Blockchain (again, I have no idea how you know what’s derived from an Ethereum Blockchain so I suggest you assume you will need it and download it). It is also an extension to your Chrome browser so it’s not very big and doesn’t take long to install.

Download the Ripple Wallet if you plan to store Ripple on your Nano S. This is the only hardware wallet I found that accepts Ripple, so if you have or plan to have Ripple, download this wallet. THIS IS NOT A CHROME EXTENSION – IT IS A 48 MB FILE that saves to your computer’s hard drive. You need a GOOD internet connection to download this. After you download it, you need to run it and install it onto your computer.

If your Chrome browser is still open, see if there’s a tab open at this URL: chrome://apps/ if not, launch your Chrome browser and go to chrome://apps/ this is where you should see your LEDGER WALLET BITCOIN, LEDGER WALLET ETHEREUM, and LEDGER MANAGER apps.  You won’t see the Ripple Wallet App because it’s not a Chrome extension, it’s a program on your hard drive.

If you’re going to use the Ripple Wallet, you need to install it onto your Nano S device, and you do this with the LEDGER MANAGER app (NOT the Ripple Wallet App!). So make sure your Nano S in UNPLUGGED from your computer, and launch the LEDGER MANAGER in your Chrome browser.

The LEDGER MANAGER will prompt you to plug in your Nano S device and enter the PIN. When the Nano S device wakes up, the screen in the LEDGER MANAGER window shows all of the Wallet Apps it offers. Scroll down until you see RIPPLE, then click on the down arrow to download it into your Nano S. The tiny screen on the Nano S will ask for you for permission to talk to the LEDGER MANAGER app. Click the button on the Nano S with the checkmark under it. In less than a minute, the Ripple wallet appears on the Nano S after the Fido U2F wallet (whatever that is – I’m going to see if I can remove it since I don’t recognize it and doubt I’ll use it).

If you recognize any other wallets you want to download to your Nano S, the process is the same. Scroll through the LEDGER MANAGER window on your computer and when you see a wallet you want, click on the down arrow to its right and it will show up on your Nano S device.

The good folks at Ledger could do a much better job communicating how to set up and use the Nano S. It seems like they exist in their tech bubble, assuming everyone would intuitively understand how these things should work. I found the process extremely frustrating, and would recommend the Trezor wallet because setting it up and using it was so much easier. Their instructions were more complete and the interface is more user friendly. But I persevered with the Ledger Nano S because it seems to support more alt coins and obscure baby coins. The major coins are getting priced out of my reach, so I’m getting more interested in finding and buying the new coins, hoping some (or just one!) will turn into the next big thing. I already wrote about my BABY COIN FEVER which you can read here, and I plan to write more about them since they really seem like the future of crypto currency.

Struggling With the Ledger Nano S Hardware Wallet

Now that I’ve broadened my crypto portfolio, I need to get serious about storing them safely off the Internet. Over a month ago I bought a Ledger Nano S hardware wallet but I didn’t get around to setting it up until now.

The device seems simple enough to figure out. I plugged one end of its USB cord into the device and the other end into my computer. Its LCD screen illuminated, giving directions on how to use its interface of two button and LCD screen: Push the Left button to scroll left, push the Right button to scroll right, push BOTH buttons to select something. Then it prompted me to enter a PIN. I wish it gave me the option to set up the PIN later, but it didn’t so I had to come up with something that would be too hard to guess, but not too hard to remember. I have no idea if there’s a way to re-set the PIN so I hope what I devised is adequate. It then prompted me to enter the PIN again, and I was relieved I remembered it properly since I made it up spontaneously.

It then instructed me to “write down the recovery phrase”. To me, a “phrase” is a SHORT SENTENCE. So I grabbed a pen and tiny post-it note.  What commenced was neither short nor a phrase. It gave me 24 random words to write down in sequential order. I realized it was giving me words to write in the “Recovery Sheet” that came with the Nano S device. Why didn’t it say “write down these 24 recovery words”?! So I stopped writing on the tiny note pad and found the recovery card with 24 numbered blank lines and recorded the words in their proper place.

After scrolling through the words, the interface did not give me a prompt to continue. I pushed the Right button, but nothing happened. So I pushed the Left button, and it scrolled through the words in reverse order. When I got to the first word again, I pushed the Left button one more time, and it quizzed me on the words I just saw: What was word #13? Then it prompted me to scroll through a bunch of random words until I saw the word I wrote in space 13. When I saw the word, I pushed both buttons. Then it asked me to identify word #22. I scrolled through the options until I saw the word I wrote in space #22. I pushed both buttons to select it. Then it told me the device has been configured and is ready to use.

BUT IT DOESN’T TELL ME HOW TO USE IT. It would be nice if either the tiny LCD screen gave me some direction. I double-checked the sparse instructions that came with the device and it did say to “get started at” and follow the instructions. When I set up my Trezor hardware wallet, it clearly requested the Chrome browser. So I went to on Chrome.

The Ledger Nano S was still plugged into my computer, so I was surprised when the Website couldn’t recognize the device I had and asked me to identify it from the other devices Ledger offers. It asks if I want to configure the device (nope, already did it without assistance), watch video tutorials (no thanks, I’m the weirdo who prefers reading than watching a video), or install a Bitcoin Wallet, an Ethereum Wallet, or a Ripple Wallet.

Since I specifically bought Trezor Nano S because it’s the only hardware wallet that stores Ripple, I click “Install Ripple Wallet”. This page promotes the wallet’s benefits of being simple, free, fast, secure, and open source “so anyone can access the full source code to authenticate code paths and contribute to the development”. This statement makes me laugh. Do these techies REALLY believe that ANYONE “can access and authenticate” source code? I – and I dare say MOST HUMANS ON EARTH – can neither access nor authenticate ANY kind of code – “source” or otherwise. But I guess “open source” sounds like a plus so I’m “happy” it’s a “feature” of my wallet.

There’s a button to “download the Ripple App”. I’m not sure where I’m downloading it to – I guess it’s to the Nano S device. I really don’t trust my computer because I know where on the Internet it’s been…

I click to download the Ripple App. It prompts me to save it somewhere but my Nano S wallet is not a destination option. I noticed the device looks like it went dormant, so I unplug it from my computer and plug it back in. It livens up and prompts me to enter the PIN and to my amazement I input it correctly.

The device’s little LCD screen is showing icon’s I hadn’t previously seen on it: A Bitcoin symbol, an Ethereum symbol, and two I don’t recognize. I use the buttons to scroll to them and it says “Fido U2F” and “settings”. I keep scrolling and it circles back to Bitcoin. Ripple is not there.

On my computer I click to download the Ripple App, hoping it will load onto my wallet and not only my (old and abused) laptop. It asks me where I want to save the app and again my Nano S wallet is not an option. So I guess I am storing this wallet onto my sketchy computer. I recall one of the benefits of the Ledger Nano S is that it is safe to use even on a computer with malware. I would not be surprised at all if I have malware, so as much as I don’t like it, start downloading the wallet to my hard drive.

While I’m waiting for the app to download, I explore the “Settings” option of my Nano S. Under “Settings” it offers “Display”, “Security”, “Device”, “Assistance”, and “Quit App”.  I chose “Quit App” and it brought me back to where I saw the Bitcoin and Ethereum symbols. So I guess “Settings” is an “App”? I went back into “Settings” and chose “Display” – this lets you adjust the LCD’s brightness, rotate the screen, or invert the colors. I didn’t want to do any, so I scrolled to “Back” and pressed both buttons to return to the previous menu. Now I selected “Security” which offers “Auto-lock”, “Change PIN” (oh good! I get a second chance if I think up a better one), “Shuffle PIN” (I have no idea what this means or how it would work), and “Passphrase” (which we now know means the sequence of 24 words that make the recovery key for this device). I don’t want to mess with any of these, so I scroll to “Back” and press both buttons. The next option is “Device” which offers “Firmware” (ugh, I don’t want to tinker with that) and “Reset all” (scary, no thanks). I choose “Back” and try the last option which is “Assistance”. I can’t image how much “assistance” a 3/8” by 1” screen can offer. I pushed both buttons and it displayed the following: “To get assistance, contact Ledger support.” Um, why even bother?? No phone number, no Web site. Seems like a waste of firmware (am I using that word right?). I pushed a button to scroll to the “Back” option but there wasn’t one! So I pushed both buttons and then it displayed so I guess that’s the “more information” information. But I still don’t know how to leave this screen. I push both buttons again and now an email appears: I push both buttons again and it brings me back to the previous menu. It’s weird that that one screen doesn’t follow the same rhythm as the others. I scroll to “Quit App” and push both buttons.

After my tour of the LCD offerings, I noticed my Ripple App failed to download completely. It would have been nice if it warned me the file is 49MB. It would be a miracle if my dodgy internet could handle that. I’ll have to go to a WeWork to download it.

I went to WeWork and it downloaded in about 2 seconds. I downloaded the Ripple Wallet, the Bitcoin Wallet and the Ether Wallet. I think the Bitcoin Wallet and Ether Wallet are already installed on the Nano S device, but I didn’t want to have to go back to WeWork in case it wasn’t, so I downloaded them since I was in the presence of excellent Internet connectivity. They weren’t programs, they were “Chrome Extensions”. I’m not sure what the difference is, but they didn’t download a file to my desktop that I had to launch.

In my haste to get to WeWork, I forgot to bring my Nano S device with, so I have to go back home to finish setting it up.

Back home, I plugged in my Nano S device, then launched the Ripple Wallet program. I wasn’t happy to see the warning about the publisher not being verified and asking if I really want to open it. I clicked YES and ran the download. When it finished downloading, it asked me to click a FINISH button, then launched the Ledger Wallet Ripple program. It showed up as a separate program window in my application tray beside my Web browsers, but the screen was empty. My Nano S went to sleep, so I had to click the buttons and enter the PIN to wake it up.

On the Nano S’s tiny screen, it told me to “Use Wallet to View Accounts”. I wasn’t sure what that meant, so I clicked both buttons. That didn’t do anything. So I just clicked the Right button and scrolled through until I saw “Quit App”. I didn’t know I was in an App, so I selected it. Then I could scroll through the options of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Fido U2F, and Settings. There was no Ripple option which really bummed me out. I checked the Ripple program screen and it was still blank. When in doubt, I close programs and re-launch them. I also unplugged the Nano S and plugged it back in again. It prompted me to unlock the device and enter its PIN. I launched the Ripple program on my computer and its window said to launch the Ripple App on my device. It appears the Ripple App is not loaded on my device. I thought downloading the wallet to my desktop would also put it on my Nano S device since it was plugged in, but apparently not.

It appears I need to download the “Ledger Manager Program” to my computer which will enables the Ripple App to be loaded onto the Nano S device.

I thought this meant I had to go back to WeWork to download this program but I checked and it’s a Chrome Extension, which is only about 2 MB – a size my (terrible) home Internet can handle. I downloaded the extension and it showed up in my Chrome browser on the page chrome://apps/

I woke up my Nano S, then double-clicked on the Ledger Manager icon on chrome://apps/ and a new program window opened, listing all of the crypto currency wallets Ledger offers for the Nano S: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, Dogecoin, Ethereum, Fido U2F, Komodo, LiteCoin, Stratus, Zcash, Hello, Ripple, PoSW, Ark, Ubiq, Expanse, PIVX, Stealthcoin, Vertcoin, Viacoin, Neo, Bitcoin Gold, Stellar, Digibite, Hcash, and Qtum.

I clicked on the down arrow beside Ripple. My Nano S screen asked me to confirm allowing the Ledger Manager to access it. I clicked the button with the checkmark. The little LCD said it’s processing for about 2 seconds and then went back to the regular menu showing the Bitcoin symbol. I used the button to scroll and saw it now has a Ripple icon. I guess it installed in about 2 seconds. So now I have a Ripple Wallet on my Nano S. I now have to launch its desktop wallet to transfer my Ripple off of Kraken and into the Nano S.

But first, I want to install the Stellar wallet since that’s a baby coin I want to buy (read about my Baby Coin Fever here). I went back to the Leger Manager window and clicked the down arrow beside Stellar. This time the Nano S didn’t prompt me to allow the Ledger Manager to access it. It didn’t even say it was downloading the wallet. I scrolled past the Ripple wallet, and the Stellar wallet was magically on the tiny LCD screen.

Now I’m ready to load Ripple and baby coins onto the safety of my Ledger Nano S hardware wallet. But first, here is a clean and clear set of instructions I made on how to set up the Ledger Nano S hardware wallet so you can do it without the frustration.

My Hardware Wallets Arrive

I recently purchased 2 Hardware Wallets: A Ledger Nano S and a Trezor.

The Trezor package arrived with a holographic factory seal on its top and bottom. The seal tore away but the box itself is fortified with superglue. My bare hands couldn’t disengage the flaps from the box. I used a kitchen knife and scissors to butcher the cardboard and found inside: the Trezor Hardware Wallet device (I bought  a white one), a keychain lanyard, a Micro USB adapter cord, 4 stickers, an instruction card and 2 Recovery Seed cards.
The Ledger Nano S package is stylish, minimalist like an iPhone. I was shocked to see it HAD NO SECURITY SEAL. If I bought this from, I would send it back, but I bought it straight from the factory in France. Maybe only wallets sent to resellers get the security seal? I felt uneasy.

Opening the Nano S package was much easier than Trezor’s. The Nano S box top smoothly lifted off, revealing its contents: the Nano S device, a short USB cable, a lanyard, a keychain, and “instruction booklet”.
The Ledger Nano S “instruction booklet” is a cardboard envelope with 3 tiny cue cards. The first card says “Did You Notice? There is no anti-tampering sticker on this box.”

Uh, yeah, I did notice, thanks for the anxiety attack. The card continues to explain “A cryptographic mechanism checks the integrity of your ledger device’s internal software each time it is powered on. The Secure Element chip prevents any interception or physical replacement attempt. ledger devices are engineered to be tamper proof.” Honestly, if I bought this from Amazon, I would suspect the seller added it to explain the unsealed box, scheming to steal my coins on a tampered device. But it shipped straight from the factory, so I have to believe it’s legit. So the first lesson is: You CAN safely buy the Ledger Nano S from Amazon and save yourself the overseas shipping cost.

The second card instructs how to configure the device, but all it says is “go to and follow the instructions to configure your device”. So the second lesson is: If you buy a Ledger Nano S on Amazon, don’t pay more for the (useless) instruction booklet.

The third card is the Recovery Sheet which has 24 blank lines to write your series of recovery words. I figure this will make more sense when I set up my device and move my Bitcoin to it. This is the next thing on my To-Do list.

Buying a Hardware Wallet

The excruciating (but mercifully temporary) inability to log into my cryptocurrency exchange illuminated my need for a hardware wallet to safely store my beloved bitcoin and alt coins. Phone-based wallets exist, but considering the sketchy places I’ve trolled on my phone, it seems a security risk. The safest place to store cryptocurrency is OFFLINE, and that means an unplugged hardware wallet.

A hardware wallet is basically a flash drive. But unlike cheap USB sticks handed out freely at tradeshows and conferences, hardware wallets are more durable and most have additional security features.  The most celebrated hardware wallets by nerds in the know are Trezor, Keepkey, and Ledger Nano S.

These three wallets don’t have an operating system, which means they can’t harbor malware. Apparently, they are safe to use even on a computer that DOES have malware. That’s especially important because you may not even know you have malware.

These three wallets have a Liquid Crystal Display screen which also improves security and makes them easier to use. Apparently wallets without LCD screens rely on inputting information into your computer which is sent to the wallet. If your computer is compromised with malware, the information could be stolen and never make it into your wallet.

Physical buttons on the wallet also let you securely navigate the interface – that means, to make selections and enter passwords. Apparently this is a big security bonus because someone who may be controlling your computer remotely is not able to control physical buttons, and therefore cannot control your hardware wallet (i.e. steal from it). From what I read, it appears the Ledger Nano S and Trezor have physical buttons but the Keepkey does not.

Something to note is NOT ALL WALLETS ACCEPT ALL CRYPTOCURRENCIES. And if you’ve read my earliest posts, you’ll know I have a somewhat diverse portfolio. KeepKey won’t support my Bitcoin Cash, ZCash, Ripple or Monero. Trezor won’t support my Ripple or Monero.  Ledger Nano S is the only wallet supporting Ripple but won’t support Monero (what’s up with no wallets supporting Monero??).

KeepKey not supporting 4 of my cryptocurrencies and lacking physical buttons eliminated it as a possibility. That leaves Trezor and Ledger Nano S.

Ledger Nano S appears to support all my cryptocurrencies except Monero. Bloggers enthuse about Ledger Nano S’s sleek design but I don’t plan to display it. In fact, I plan to hide it.

I did read something about Nano S only holding 3 currencies at a time, which is confusing. The more I read, the more confused I get. Apparently you can load a currency onto Nano S, then erase it and load another, then erase it, until all of your currencies are loaded but only a few can remain on the stick. I also read that the value doesn’t actually RESIDE on the wallet device, which is also hard to comprehend. The idea of ERASING my digital currency freaks me out. I guess I’ll have to buy a Nano S and try it to see for myself. Maybe I really do need to buy a Trezor wallet too so I don’t have to erase anything from the Nano S.

Bloggers encourage purchasing hardware wallets from and rarely discuss buying from the manufacturer’s Website. I suspect Amazon covertly sponsors many blogs.  The trouble with Amazon is the wide price variance for identical products. And many of the vendors have bad ratings, or no ratings, or sell other non-crypto and even non-tech items, which seems unseemly. If I’m buying a device to protect assets worth thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands?) of dollars, I need to believe I’m buying something legitimate.

On Amazon, the Trezor wallet price varies from $99 to $145 – sometimes from the same vendor!  A black version is $99, a white version is $94.99 and a grey version is $145. I can’t imagine anyone would care enough about the color of something so few people would see.  Upon closer inspection it seems like the grey one with the higher price comes with the USB cable, box, and instruction manual, which could account for the $44 difference.

Some vendors accurately identify the Trezor Wallet’s manufacturer as Satoshi Labs. But one vendor says it’s manufactured by Mom Made Foods. WTF?? I need more confidence in my purveyor of crypto security than that. According to many bloggers, you MUST check if your hardware wallet arrives FACTORY SEALED to ensure someone didn’t compromise it. If it doesn’t come factory sealed, you should send it back and get a refund. Also, don’t buy a used wallet.

Amazon has fewer vendors of the Ledger Nano S, but still a wide and confusing mix of prices and product offerings. Some bundle the wallet with a bunch of (seemingly unnecessary) accessories like a carrying case, lanyard, USB cable, Micro USB adapter, and even a ball point pen for almost $150. Some offer just the Ledger Nano S (no cable, no manual) for as low as $72. Personally, I want a manual, and I’m willing to pay extra for it, but I don’t want to buy a bunch of stuff I don’t need. Unfortunately, I don’t know what is necessary and what is superfluous. I’m also concerned that some of the accessories may be after-market and not as durable as the wallet. I don’t want a cable to fail when I’m transferring my digital currency.

It’s not that I don’t trust vendors on Amazon, I don’t trust people in general and prefer to buy directly from the manufacturer. I’m confident the wallet manufacturers will sell what I need: If I need a cable, they will provide an approved cable. If I need a manual, they will provide a manual.

Although I prefer buying directly from the manufacturer, both Trezor and Ledger are overseas and priced in Euros. They both accept payment in Bitcoin which, ironically, I won’t spend because its value keeps appreciating. If Bitcoin’s value was more static, I would enjoy avoiding my credit card’s infuriating foreign currency transaction fees.

In addition to Bitcoin, Trezor’s Website accepts credit cards, while Ledger’s Website accepts credit cards and PayPal.  Both Websites warn their prices do not include taxes and duties. I loathe imagining the hassle of coordinating my  schedule with the delivery guy to write a check for the import tariff. I also wasn’t sure where I put my seldom-used checkbook. Buying from Amazon would be so much more convenient. But that nagging voice in my head (which I’ve regretted ignoring in the past) won me over.  My distrust of online merchants supersedes my lust for convenience.

I decided to buy only one to see how nightmarish the overseas delivery would be. I chose Ledger because it gave 2 non-Bitcoin payment options, and the Ledger Nano S is compatible with 7 of my 8 cryptocurrencies. I wanted to see if I could in fact store them all together on the one stick or if there really was a 3 currency limit. If I could store them all, I wouldn’t need to buy another wallet. If it truly did limit to only 3 currencies, I would store my Ripple, Bitcoin, and Bitcoin Cash onto the Ledger S, and I would buy the Trezor wallet to store my Ethereum, Dash, Litecoin, and ZCash.

I first tried using my credit card on the Ledger site, but the online overseas transaction triggered a security block. So I tried the PayPal option (using the same blocked credit card) and it succeeded. This seemed illogical but I was glad it worked. A confirmation email claimed I would receive my Ledger Nano S in 3 days.  Of course these 3 days fell within the Thanksgiving holiday, complicating calculations of its expected arrival (i.e. when to work at home).  The following Monday I was shocked to see it arrived without any attempt to collect taxes, tariffs or duties. I felt stupid for expecting aggravations.

That night I bought the Trezor wallet from the Trezor Website. The Trezor Website doesn’t accept PayPal, so I first called my credit card company for permission to use my card for an online overseas transaction. The transaction worked, and a confirmation email said to expect my Trezor wallet to arrive in 3 to 5 business days by DHL. I’ve never had a good experience receiving shipments from DHL but I hoped for the best, given the success of my Ledger Nano S purchase.

Four days later, a DHL email announced my package’s scheduled arrival by end of day. I was already at work and considered going home to await the delivery, expecting to write a customs/duty check. When I got home I was shocked to see the package arrived without a request for customs or duty. So it seems if you’re in the continental US purchasing from the Ledger or Trezor Website, you can ignore the stern warning about taxes/tariffs/duties.

Now I’ve got to unpack these wallets. I hope setting them up is as effortless as buying and receiving them.

Why I Need A Hardware Wallet

Two things recently happened that compel me to search for a cryptocurrency Hardware Wallet. First, I recently discovered all of my cryptocurrency investments are WAY above their purchase price. Second, I was unable to log into my Kraken exchange account.

I’ve never had a problem logging into Kraken before. I figured I must have fat-fingered a digit. I carefully guided my index finger for a second attempt.  When this also failed, I double-checked my hand written note to confirm the login and password. It’s been a few weeks since my last login, so maybe I misremembered my login or password. When that third attempt failed, I felt sick, fearing the worst.

Reaching Kraken’s customer support from OUTSIDE of your account is almost impossible. The Customer Service link sits on the trading dashboard AFTER YOU LOG IN. I tried and got a 404 Error. I tried and got a 520 Error. I tried the extensions /CustomerService and /CustomerSupport without success. I googled “Kraken Customer Support” and found a link on Reddit. I clicked that link and logged a generic “locked out of my account” request for help. Within a few hours an email arrived requesting more detailed information to confirm I am the rightful owner of said account. This gave me pause.

The email looked exactly like other messages I’ve received from Kraken customer support when they assisted me with various issues. But panic consumed me: Could this be a clever hacker cloaking themselves to look like legitimate Customer Support? I attempted several more times to log into my account unassisted, but without success. I miserably relented and submitted my vital stats to this seemingly benevolent stranger.

For 3 sleepless nights, I imagined someone effortlessly draining my account. Kraken’s customer support email finally arrived, claiming they have no record of my log in attempts. This seemed impossible and did nothing to relieve my stress. After a momentary mental meltdown, I thought to re-examine the Post-It note harboring my Kraken login and password. I realized I could be misreading one character. I tried another login which succeeded – and I confirmed my portfolio remained as I left it several weeks ago.

Seriously, what IS stopping unscrupulous online pirates from posting fake Customer Support links on a community sites to spoof support emails until they have the info to access your account and steal your coins? How long before you realize you were scammed?

This motivated me to get my crypto portfolio off of the World Wide Hackers Buffet and into a hardware wallet where it can reside in peace and prosperity offline.

Googling “hardware wallet” yields countless blog reviews about the same 3 hardware wallets: TREZOR, Keepkey, and Ledger Nano S. At this point, I must confess my skepticism of bloggers. First I’m damn sure they did not buy these items, they were furnished by the manufacturers. I’m also sure they get paid to say nice things about the products they “review” (i.e. promote) so their opinions are not fully objective. Second, it appears most Bitcoin bloggers either ARE or WERE tech professionals – so what they find “easy” will befuddle a civilian like me.

Now I’m going to research these 3 hardware wallets to decide which best fits my needs before I succumb to paranoid exhaustion.