Overview of the Ledger Nano S
The Ledger Nano S is a hardware wallet, meaning that it stores the private keys to your cryptocurrency wallets, securing your funds and giving you the ability to safely conduct transactions. Ledger has been around since 2014 and apart from being regarded as a very secure wallet provider, the Ledger Nano S is currently the only hardware wallet that supports Ripple (XRP) and a total of 1,180 other cryptocurrencies. Their wide range of supported crypto assets makes it a very useful storage option for those who invest in a wide range of altcoins and need a way to securely store them as well as for those who just need somewhere safe to put their crypto-assets.
We will explore all of this in more detail: Ledger’s reputation and history, the wallet’s design, security features, setup and initialization in the following Ledger Nano S review.
More about Ledger the company
Ledger is a French company that began life in 2014 and has grown into a leader in secure cryptocurrency storage solutions and blockchain applications. Since the original founders of the company came together to form Ledger, the company has expanded to over 130 employees with offices in Paris, Vierzon and San Francisco. In that time, Ledger has built up a strong customer base with clients in 165 countries and over 1,441,000 Ledger Nano S wallets already sold. Investments in the company are also healthy, having raised USD 85 million to date.
So what can you expect after receiving your Ledger Nano S?
The box should contain:
The Ledger Nano S device
3 documents: Getting started card, Did you notice card and 3 copies of the Recovery sheet
A lanyard and keychain
A USB cable
Note that Ledger doesn’t use a tamper-proof seal or sticker as they can be counterfeited to fool people. If there is anything missing from the box or the seed card has anything written on it, then it shouldn’t be used and Ledger should be contacted immediately. As a common rule when buying any hardware wallet, the device should only be purchased directly from the company and not from Ebay to ensure it hasn’t been pre-owned or tampered with.
So back to the design of your new Ledger Nano S. It resembles a USB stick in size and shape and can be easily held in your hand or put in your pocket. Alternatively, you can use the lanyard or key ring it comes with to carry it around with you. The inbuilt display, although smaller than some other wallets such as Keep Key, is large enough and an important security feature as it allows you to use the device securely even if you are unsure that the computer you’re using it with is free from malware. The rotatable metal sleeve protects the screen isn’t strictly necessary but doesn’t do any harm and makes the wallet as a whole a bit more durable. In short, the device is practical and makes a good first impression.
Now that it has been unpacked and inspected, it is ready to be set up.
Setup and initialization
The setup and initialization process of the Ledger Nano S is quite intuitive and similar to most other hardware wallets. To start, plug your wallet into your computer and turn it on; after that, you will be asked to create a PIN code using the 2 buttons on the device.
Important to note is that when you first plug the wallet into your computer, the screen should display “Welcome” and “Press both buttons to begin”. If this isn’t the case, then there’s a chance it has been tampered with and Ledger should be contacted. Also, the PIN and seed code will not have been preset. If they have, then the device is likely not safe and Ledger should be contacted.
Once you have confirmed the PIN, you’ll be asked to write down your 24-word seed on the card provided. The seed will be displayed on the screen of your Ledger Nano S so that it never comes in contact with your computer or the internet.
The ability to use the device to create and display important, private information is part of what makes hardware wallets such a secure, simple option for storing cryptocurrencies. It is, however, important to write the seed code down in the correct order and store it somewhere safe from the elements and prying eyes.
Now all that is left to do is to install Ledger Live which is the software that allows you to download apps and manage your different wallets on the device. This includes conducting transactions with the hardware wallet. Ledger Live is not the only option. Those with existing software wallets, including those from Mycelium, Electrum and some others, can use the Ledger Nano S to secure them. In total, the setup takes around 5 minutes and is not difficult, following similar steps to most other hardware wallets on the market.
One of the most crucial things to consider when buying a hardware wallet, apart from its security features, is supported altcoins. In this regard, Ledger is well-known for being particularly willing to add support for new cryptocurrencies, often well before other devices on the market. Currently, the Ledger Nano S supports over 1,100 cryptocurrencies although many, such as ECR-20 tokens, aren’t supported by Ledger Live directly so to send or receive them you will have to download other software such as MyEtherWallet or MyCryptoWallet.
The Ledger Nano S, of course, supports many of the most popular cryptocurrencies traded, including:
Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Bitcoin Gold (BTG)
Ethereum Classic (ETC)
One of the issues with the Ledger Nano S is that although it can be used to store many different types of cryptocurrencies, the device has limited memory and only about 4 or 5 cryptocurrency apps can be stored at the same time on the device. This has drawn criticism from some users, however, although it is a hassle, it is not difficult to uninstall apps from the device via Ledger Live to make space for new ones. When uninstalling apps on the device, the personal keys are not lost and to gain access to the wallet, you just have to reinstall the app for that cryptocurrency on the device again as the private keys remain securely stored on the device.
As a side note, Ledger allows users with an Android OTG capable device to check their balance on the go with their Ledger Live app for mobile devices. Running in what Ledger calls consultation mode, with an OTG cable, you can currently only check your Ledger Nano S’s balance on the app and not conduct transactions. The OTG cable can be purchased from Ledger directly with the hardware wallet.
The Ledger Nano S is considered to be at least as secure as other popular hardware wallets on the market such as Trezor or Keep Key. Its inbuilt screen means that all actions have to be manually confirmed on the device. On top of this, when generating a private key and seed for the wallet, they are generated on the device in real time. This means that they are not accessible from the internet or the connected computer which is a large part of why the Ledger Nano S, and hardware wallets in general, are far superior in terms of security and privacy to software or cloud wallets.
For more advanced users and those with large sums of cryptocurrency that want to add an extra layer of security to their Ledger Nano S, there is the option to add a passphrase. This is an extra word added to the 24-word seed code and a second associated PIN that allows for hidden wallets. The passphrase is never written down and chosen on the device by the user so is therefore known only to the owner of the device. If a wallet is placed “behind” the passphrase, when trying to recover the device with the 24-word seed, only those not “behind” the pass code will be recovered.
By keeping a small amount of cryptocurrency for day-to-day use in basic, non-passphrase wallets, if the user is threatened to release the seed codes for the wallet or they somehow fall into someone else’s hands, only a small amount will be lost. The thief is tricked into thinking that no other funds exist on the device. It should be noted that this security feature is only recommended for advanced users because if the passphrase and second PIN are forgotten, then the funds can’t be recovered. The device is very secure without the use of the passphrase feature.
As mentioned above, because the generation of your seed code is so crucial to the device’s security, it is important to make sure that when purchasing any hardware wallet, not just the Ledger Nano S, you never order it from a third party. It is always recommended to purchase it directly from Ledger or a certified reseller, such as Amazon in the case of Ledger. Scams involving the selling of a hardware wallet with pre-generated seed codes have been known to occur. If someone gains access to the device’s seed code, they can access the private wallet keys on it and therefore the funds associated with them.
Ledger Nano S review summary: is it good value for money?
After running through the most relevant aspects of the wallet in this Ledger Nano S review, how does its price compare to other wallets on the market?
Ledger is a respected, secure and user-friendly hardware wallet that supports a wide range of cryptocurrencies, albeit with some limitations in the number of apps that can be simultaneously loaded and managed on the device. Costing at the time of writing EUR 59 (inc. VAT), it is competitively priced when compared to the Trezor One at EUR 83.49 (incl. VAT). Similarly, the Keep Key costs USD 129 when bought directly from manufacturer.
In summary, although the product could be improved by adding more memory to allow for more apps on the device, the Ledger Nano S is a reliable, secure cryptocurrency storage solution that offers good value for money. If this is what you are looking for, make sure that you get it only from Ledger directly. If you are still uncertain then you can read our reviews of other quality hardware wallets on the market.
Also, if you would like to check out our other reviews you can do so here.
Disclaimer: BitcoinNews does not provide any warranties towards the accuracy of the statements in the above Ledger Nano S review. Any content on this site should not be relied upon as advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. It is your responsibility to perform your own research of the wallet. Trading and investing in cryptocurrencies involves considerable risk of loss and is not suitable for every investor.
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Image Courtesy: Ledger