2

In Bitcoin, you can store a paper wallet by merely writing down the private key of an address, which is very small. You can also write ~20 words generated from that address, if you want. In Ethereum, in order to backup an account, I was suggested to copy a file on my keychain directory (OSX). The issue is, that file is a moderately big JSON. Writing all that in a paper is very error prone.

Is it possible to generate a small set of words, or just a hex private key, that I can write down in a paper and restore later?

4

Yes, you can simply generate pairs of unencrypted or encrypted private and public keys. For example, use this bulk key generator:

1,"0xb7d3a6d96960c2e9650822be7c1cc4ebe8bb3718","9a130892d949ab5faf678ac6295d3ab05a434448b824c0dc43bf86a4c2bbf747"
2,"0xbf3407c1231b3612dc6d2da07f32208ed1e17ebd","e9a1bc1d7e5a815499009cf94139b3a4f532b0530df737247b6a0eccb65e5384"
3,"0x7637dc580f362786cbdc9e59a1baa9db4b46aa38","d7c8c4735ac5d665b7d9dd4a4d3dc61f4c1bffcad9b77d0f3aee5568d6dcdd10"
4,"0x395c3f208c09a9640880ae387331d7d58123bbd1","c0f075d2aa6510f75281b19f2c43771b99248f5784503344b21c590b8003419e"
5,"0x0d59b6bc0d014ee806230c4fee77e0c83bb6f453","0da749536ce1279d99663016428fe23a3799b842f982c6a1e81fa69cc0219a45"
6,"0xad17e413f8a47a07c8c7660f5c495b20176c59e0","994c6d8e93216ebd2f1e82662c00f3a7fb3e24f1245b4571791dc369f098bf20"
7,"0xa839ecc2305f433535eb1be00fc065ef728c61df","449fcc4846ec446e996653f3be7e81cf2f9c7df072ff2ece51e9f173928fb1cd"

Which outputs CSV: ID, public key (address), private key (here: unencrypted).

You can write them down. In general, I would recommend to encrypt them with a passphrase, but the output will be much more difficult to write down:

1,"0x5a594c44c194d9269025d07b9cf95e4b8fd767d2","U2FsdGVkX18TjcT/+fNBhHk1uPh1N72Vf3CLo/vkhor2+eKSEjeFbd13PbNcx78kwfwa0Gckv5yFjjQiR0qxyApPX6Buhs5e4IsYI90llPS0t75eJOz2b7qtPKlfX28T"
2,"0x052ce0c54dd7ec93fd513688fe954ae030889e6b","U2FsdGVkX1+XJEy6O2hw1N7PGnHtpQyrlLY+xD1J2X1TlgRqUB5gnQOS6rwi/mSEbdviLCjWKc3psQuV5UikS4wOmDunlWshGNTaoMIPj51Yh0KvfW22g6Evs1Z9COo3"
3,"0xbe8467807ea1374780d56a1bf9278fc1e1f5348a","U2FsdGVkX19SHpzNamqBl/JbmW2qzddPdQpIlKBadLstvlLtjmKI9YROxZlZEnHtK4mhPrKtTUWHGEF2sLAesVkBAqD71ORbWo6cEqa+C7pm4tkInuUTWWQVGEviNmGa"
4,"0xd903ff3313fdef8126b5f38c6775c0e34577ef33","U2FsdGVkX18V+us+TZ5ebawywwbW1eDtRjv8el6adTWcqf9Ag2nzWAtKlvZytCATEge4jzPZQaYJb7dZAMgjywGmxD63BPwZu7nc4hRzd+rWdVdT3NoyDE1WGJBa47Xp"
5,"0x425c6cd22c1673084d91bdc555115cf053a128a3","U2FsdGVkX1+BRDxxc4aDdYsdzjCDmHvBwiVp7GGFeBO2fc44pE+biTTaSz52Xrm9HhcwzHyQOxQc0KpRDckTiAV0VHb6MnfWcHKxlGTt5XzoMutZYrT6DWj8refcolp2"
6,"0x47bd738c482de1017c1bb44daed1174befe599f3","U2FsdGVkX1901zVkK+GEG1PNL5LWhAM/1EGGebUVKTBEqlEesgMliEb5bSGqQF+XbgmfefXjo/1lly8tPmEKz4vS4JNQU/m9gl9KMx/TADzz+mWbYj4WVo4KIqpaRdur"
7,"0x5600370a09691dea4e81735b86fb0b76182dcdee","U2FsdGVkX1+RwHwIB6SfPMAsoBGyWoz9QO72YY+J3hcfqWvlVnlW68jd5qAOaRVlZgnywpiKJmGjDCrTNR/ZiN0pHj3YlVN3+WdJ13qhFiMBxdLkrifblcNi+mXMCKm4"

A good alternative might a brain wallet, where you just have to remember the 20 words to generate the key pair. Here is one generator. Here is another (click "get address").

But as always, test this with small amounts first!

  • Thanks for your answer, but how do you import those bulk keys back into eth/geth? – MaiaVictor Jan 28 '16 at 9:22
  • 1
    Check this question. – Waqar Lim Jan 28 '16 at 9:26
  • Oh, okay. Thank you. That's almost perfect, but I still need to know a way to export the bulk keys of the accounts on geth... (wouldn't trust a thirdy party JS rng...) – MaiaVictor Jan 28 '16 at 9:29
  • Will parity's 'recovery phrase' also achieve this goal? – dcorking Sep 18 '17 at 10:58
  • @dcorking yes, it does! – Waqar Lim Sep 18 '17 at 11:00

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