Ledger Nano S Wallet Review
Cryptocurrency is still in its infancy, and right now, users have a problem. It’s relatively difficult to store/handle/transact with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency, but it’s relatively easy for hackers to steal your coins, which can be worth quite a lot of money.
There are people who literally own millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency, and the only thing that allows them to keep their wealth secure is their ability to keep a long string of alphanumeric characters a secret.
The Ledger Nano S hardware wallet was designed to help with that, as those strings, known as private keys, have to be used in order to transact in any way, and those transactions usually take place over the Internet. How can you keep your keys secure when you still need to use them?
You use a hardware wallet, and the Ledger Nano S is one of the most affordable and secure hardware wallets on the market. You can use it to keep track of your assets while still ensuring that they’re safe from hackers.
Click here to visit the Ledger Nano S Website (new window)
Read on for the full Ledger Nano S review.
Ledger Nano S Overview
While the Ledger Nano S is called a hardware wallet, it’s actually a small computer that’s about the size of a flash drive. Unlike a flash drive, however, the Ledger Nano S has a small display on it, as well as two buttons that you use to control and configure the device, along with a cable to connect it to a USB port on you computer.
The Ledger Nano S keeps your private keys private; the keys are stored on the device and you (and hackers) never see them. The device cannot be hacked, so even if your computer is infected with a virus or malware, the keys are secure.
Setting up the Ledger Nano S
Setting up your Ledger Nano S is easy, and the instructions are included with the device. You will be asked to enter a PIN, and that number can be 4-8 digits long. You get to choose both the number and the number of digits. That’s quite secure, because once you enter the PIN, entering it incorrectly three times will completely erase the device, rendering it useless.
Fortunately, the Ledger Nano S includes a recovery method, and creating that is part of the setup process. Once you set up your PIN, the Ledger will then display a series of words on the screen – 24 in all. You need to write those down on a sheet of paper, in order. Then you need to store the sheet of paper in a safe place, and ideally, you should have more than one copy and store each of them separately.
You set up your PIN by using the two buttons on the Ledger Nano S to select the number you want. The right hand button increases the digits and the left hand button decreases them. When you find the one that you want, you press both buttons at once, and that digit is saved and you then select the next one.
That’s the basic method of using the Ledger Nano S in any scenario. You navigate through menus using the two buttons and press both to confirm.
Should you forget your PIN or if your device is lost, damaged, or stolen, you can recover everything by acquiring a new Ledger Nano S and restoring it by entering those 24 words. That will recreate the seed that was used to generate your private keys in the first place. As long as you have those 24 words securely stored, you’ll always be able to recover your funds.
Once you’ve set up your Ledger Nano S, you can install the Ledger manager software, which you can download from the official Ledger Website. The Ledger Nano S is a multicurrency wallet, and it can handle dozens of different coins and tokens. It can’t store everything, but then again, no single wallet can yet do that.
The Ledger Nano S can, however, store Bitcoin and its derivatives, Ethereum and any ERC-20 based token, NEO, Litecoin, and a number of others. For each type of cryptocoin you want to administer using the Ledger Nano S, you’ll have to install an app on the device. This is done via the Ledger manager software.
Until recently, the Ledger Nano S could only store 4-5 applications at a time. Thanks to a recent firmware update, the device can now store as many as 18 different applications, which is great if you own a broad variety of cryptocurrency.
For most people, having the apps for Bitcoin, Litecoin, NEO and Ethereum will likely be enough, as many coins are based on those. Having the Ethereum app installed, for instance, will allow you to store hundreds of different tokens.
You add the apps via the Ledger manager software, which is an add-on for the Chrome Web browser. You just click on the app to install it, and it just takes a minute. If you find that your device is full, you can use the Ledger manager to remove an app to make room for another one.
Don’t worry; your coins are still secure even if you remove an app. If you restore it later, you’ll have access to your coins for that particular app again.
Using the Ledger Nano S
The Ledger Nano S is designed to work with the Ledger wallet, which is a piece of software that runs as an app through Chrome. You can also use it with third party software wallets, such as My Ether Wallet or the Neon wallet.
Those wallets would ordinarily ask you for a private key and a password to open them. If you use it with a Ledger, you connect the device to your computer via USB, select the “connect with Ledger wallet” option and enter the PIN on your Ledger. Then you can access the wallet and transact as you ordinarily would.
I use it all the time with My Ether Wallet. Any time I need to send Ethereum somewhere, I enter my PIN, login to My Ether Wallet, and fill in the form for how much Ethereum I want to send. Then I click the button to send. At this point, the display on the Ledger Nano S asks me to confirm the transaction. A click on the right hand button confirms that.
Then My Ether Wallet again asks me I’m sure I want to send the coins. I click “Yes,” and the transaction completes. All of this was done via the Ledger Nano S, and the private keys were never exposed to hackers or anyone else who might be monitoring my Internet traffic.
I’ve found the Ledger Nano S to be fairly easy to use and it’s quite affordable, as it currently sells for less than $100, and the price includes free shipping.
One minor complaint that I have about the Ledger Nano S is that it does have a fairly quick time out feature. If you don’t access it for 5 minutes or so, you’ll have to enter your PIN again to use it. As cryptocurrency transactions can often take longer than that, I end up having to enter my PIN a lot.
I also found the recent firmware upgrade to be a bit difficult. This upgrade increased the number of apps that you can install on the device, but the upgrade took me about two hours to complete. It worked, though, and the device is now better for it.
The company that makes the Ledger Nano S recently had a problem with product delivery. They reportedly shipped 30,000 units in 2016 but more than a million of them in 2017 and were caught off guard by the sudden increase in demand. They’ve now managed to catch up and they’re shipping the Ledger Nano S again.
Ledger Nano S Conclusion
Those who are new to cryptocurrency might be inclined to spend their money on the currency itself and use online wallets to save money. That may work in the short run, but computers can be hacked, and as your cryptocurrency portfolio increases in value, the potential harm that can come from having your coins stolen increases, too.
For a relatively small amount of money, the Ledger Nano S can give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your private keys, and thus, your money, is secure. Some people even have duplicate Ledger wallets. They’ll set one up as a new device, and then “clone” it to a second device. Then they keep one available for regular use while locking the other one away in a safe place. If something happens to the first one, the second one is available right away.
If you’re looking for an affordable, secure, easy-to-use hardware wallet, the Ledger Nano S is a good choice.