Recovering Wallet Passwords and Passphrases

If you’ve lost your wallet password &/or wallet passphrase, whether it’s possible to recover the wallet and its contents depends on several different factors. First of all though for the sake of clarity we need to clear up the differences between a password and a passphrase.

What’s the difference between a wallet password and passphrase?

  • A wallet password is established when you first create your wallet and is requested each time you access your wallet. If you lose your password you can still recreate your wallet and recover your funds as long as you have your seed words (see our pages about what are seed words and seed word recovery). If you’ve lost your seed words then we’ll need to crack the wallet password in order to recover your funds. This is usually possible.

    Above: Setting up the password on an Electrum wallet

  • A wallet passphrase is part of the BIP39 standard that almost all hardware and software wallets use. A passphrase is not the same as the wallet password above and can be created at any time. It provides an additional layer of protection to secure the funds in your wallet. If your seed words fall into the wrong hands, your funds are still safe if you’ve secured them with the additional passphrase. Although the thief now has access to your wallet he will not be able to locate the funds hidden by the passphrase. Usefully, it’s often not possible to tell if a passphrase wallet is in use or not as there are no outward signs of its existence.
    Passphrase on a Trezor

    Above: Using the passphrase feature to access a hidden wallet on a Trezor One.

Lost passphrase recovery

To recover the funds protected by your passphrase you’re going to need to know all of your seed words and the order they are in. This is because your seed words are a representation of your private key, and if the private key is not correct there is no chance of recovering your passphrase protected wallet. So if you’ve got your seed words but lost your passphrase please contact us for assistance.

Lost password recovery

The only time you should need password recovery is if you’ve lost your seed words and are therefore unable to recreate and recover your wallet. To successfully access your wallet we will need to crack the wallet password. The more information you can provide about the password the better. Typically it can take anything from a day to several months to crack a wallet password.

Example Bitcoin recovery

Here’s an example job where we recovered the Bitcoin from a wallet where the owner had forgotten their passphrase.