Where to Store Your Seed Phrase


This article is covering physical locations for storing your seed phrase.

For information on what to store your seed phrase on (i.e. what to physically put or write it on), see The Best Way to Store Your Seed Phrase.

First and foremost, I won't be suggesting places to hide your seed phrase.

Why?

Because that defeats the purpose of a hiding place. If a hiding place becomes well known and popular, it's no longer hidden. It becomes a standard place a burglar or home invader would look every single time (like under a mattress).

So we'll go over characteristics a hiding place should have to help you evaluate your current location or decide on one.

A good hiding place is...

Memorable

A memorable location can be achieved physically or mentally.

By physically, I mean its in a unique location that's unlikely to be forgotten specifically by you. If it has some sort of personal connection, ensure this connection is only known by you. You don't want someone else looking in this location because they know you'd hide your seed phrase there. Someone else can also look in that location because they too are connected to it.

By a mentally memorable location, make a point to check your seed phrase's location on some sort of schedule.  This drives it into the depths of your memory and lets you check on it to make sure its still there.

Permanent (or relatively difficult to move)

You don't want to keep it in a place that anyone can move around without your knowledge (whether that's re-organizing or re-decorating). Those surprise home makeover shows are probably your worst nightmare.

If you use a safe, make sure it's secured down or heavy. A safe is already a place to keep valuables and you bet someone will take the entire thing if it's easy to carry instead of trying to pick the lock.

Accessible 

You don't want to bury it 20 ft in the ground in a place that you can only access on the summer solstice and requires a key that only can be crafted by your uncle Chad when he's had few drinks.

How are you going to get your seed phrase if you need to recover your wallet and move your coins immediately?

Often the biggest threat to your seed phrase is yourself. The next worst thing to losing your seed phrase is being unable to access it. Introducing complexity decreases the chances of you being able to access your seed phrase in the future.

Regardless, you want to be able to check your seed phrase on a regular schedule. This is not only to be able to access your seed phrase in an emergency but the check for signs of tampering.

Keep it simple, keep it accessible.

Separate from Valuables

Your seed phrase is valuable but you don't want anyone else knowing that. Having it near your valuables automatically makes it valuable by association (especially if it's one of those "cool" looking seed storage devices).

Your seed phrase should be in an "average" looking location. It should be nothing special or grand like a treasure chest.

Controlled By You

You don't want others to stumble upon your seed phrase by accident. Not only does it expose your seed phrase but it introduces risk of what that person will do with that information (even if they didn't read it, they know of its location).

It could be the form of a benign question such as asking someone else (or worse online) about it (e.g. "I found this weird note, does anyone happen to know what it is").

Ensure its in a location that you control and decide who has access to.

Durable and Safe from the Elements

Store your seed phrase in a clean, dark, dry, and cool area (room temperature or below).

Store above waist height to minimize damage from floods. Avoid unstable environments where temperature fluctuations, humidity, and risk of leaks are present (such as an attic, garage, or basement). This decreases chances of deterioration, damage, or pests.

Use a supportive protective enclosure that not only can protect it physically but also environmentally from fluctuating humidity and temperatures.

Considering storing in a sealable, water and/or fire resistant container.

Do not store your seed phrase with other items or materials that could damage your seed phrase.

Not Likely to be Throw Away

You don't want your seed phrase (or the container your seed phrase is in) to be accidentally thrown away. So that junk drawer, yeah, not a great place.

It's also not a good idea to store your seed phrase to be somewhere that's organized or cleaned often. Your seed phrase can be misplaced (or thrown out) without your knowledge (even by you).

Note on Safety Deposit Boxes

Verbatim from the Bitcoin white paper and Satoshi Nakamoto himself, "A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution."

A bank is a financial institution. So, take that as you will.

Obviously, banks are notorious targets for robbery. But to be honest that's unlikely.

They are MORE notorious for screwing up and making clerical errors. (which I'm sure you've had experience with at least once in your lifetime)

Mixing up box numbers, bank branches closing, boxes being misplaced due to being moved to a different location, etc. are all possible common situations. You're trusting the bank and each and every person who works there. You're trusting them to not only protect your box, but also not make a mistake or betray you.  Remember, someone doesn't need to physically steal your seed phrase, they can simply take a picture and you wouldn't know the wiser.

And remember, items in a safety deposit box are not insured. So if the bank messes up, you're out of luck (whether its your fault or not).

Take a look at a few articles below and make your own assessment on safety deposit boxes:

American Society of Appraisers - How Safe is Your Safe Deposit Box

New York Times - Safe Deposit Box Theft 

Customers Complain of BofA is Drilling Safe Deposit Boxes and Losing Valuables 

That being said, if you're going to use a safety deposit box, ensure the following:

  1. Store another copy of your seed phrase elsewhere
  2. Encrypt your seed phrase and/or use a passphrase