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I have Ether funds currently held by an exchange which I wish to withdraw to a MyEther Paper Wallet for safety. In the creation process ID and keyfiles are generated which I am urged to record. At some future date I will sweep the Ether from my paper wallet back to the exchange.

My (noob) question is do I need anything other than my public and private keys (as shown on the printed paper wallet) to achieve this. Will I need the aforementioned ID and keyfiles? I intend to rely solely on the safety of a paper wallet kept securely in multi locations.This is my first foray into cryptocurrency.

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MyEtherWallet in generating a wallet for you generates the public and private keys (which are really the only two pieces you need), and then provides several backups for you. As I mention in my beginner's guide to Ethereum:

  1. Password: what you created in the first step
  2. Keystore File: a file you downloaded, which starts with UTC--.
  3. Private Key: A 64-character hexadecimal string.
  4. Paper Wallet: physical piece of paper you printed off your computer. It has your Private Key written on it.
  5. Account Address: a 40-character hexadecimal string.

These five things are redundant backups of each other. They're designed such that if you lose access to one, you can still get at your funds. Here's how they work together: your private key (#3) is the only thing you need to access your funds. That makes it both very convenient and very dangerous (if an attacker gets it, they have your funds). And, the private key doesn't have any protection of its own, so it's up to you to use outside means to keep it safe. The paper wallet (#4) is a useful way to store your private key in a physical form. The paper wallet has both private key (#3) and account address (#5) on it, both written out as a hexadecimal string, and as a QR code (which makes it easy to input into a mobile device that has a camera). It's intended for you to fold the right side of the paper over and tape it, so that the private key values are hidden and sealed away (helps prevent accidentally showing your private key to a security camera as you're walking around with your paper wallet). The keystore file (#2) and Password (#1) work together. Either of them individually is useless for getting at your funds; the keystore file (#2) has the private key (#3) encrypted inside it with the password (#1). So, an attacker would need to get their hands on both to steal your funds. So, separate those two into two separate locations, so an attacker would have to hack two different things in order to get them both. The account address (#5) is the least essential but most commonly used part of your wallet. The account address (#5) can be derived from the private key (#3), so as long as you have the private key (either the paper wallet (#4), or the keystore file (#2) and password (#1) together), you can re-calculate the account address.

  • Do you even need the public key (technically) ? – Albert Renshaw Nov 30 '17 at 15:19
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    The private key is the only critical bit. If you only have that, all the other bits can be derived from that. However, the most common but of data you'll be needing to use as a user is your public key (to share with others and look up blockchain data about yourself), so it's convenient to have the public address pre-computed so you don't need to whip out your private key each time. – MidnightLightning Nov 30 '17 at 16:26

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