Review score of the Ledger Nano S
How does the Ledger Nano S work?
The Ledger Nano S is a safe, offline USB-sized device. The Nano S stores your private keys on the secure chip of the device, which is never in contact with the Internet and therefore can never be hacked.
Your bitcoins are not stored on the device itself, but are tracked on the Blockchain. The Ledger Nano S stores and protects all the secret data, while you can still manage and trade your bitcoins.
What do I need to use the Ledger Nano S?
To use the Ledger Nano S, you need:
- A computer with a USB port
- Google Chrome or Chromium 50+
- Windows (no XP), Mac (10.7+) or Linux
The hardware wallet communicates with the computer through the Ledger Chrome application that you install on your computer. You do not need a software installation and you do not have to create an account.
What’s in the box?
If you receive the Ledger Nano, you’ll find the following items:
- Of course, the Ledger Nano S
- 1 micro USB cable
- A strap
- A keychain and key ring
- The so-called recovery sheet on which you note your backup seed
- A leaflet with instructions
Installing the Ledger Nano S
Installing the Ledger Nano S is super easy, the entire installation process is completed within 10 minutes. The device guides you through a number of instructions on the LCD screen that helps you secure and configure your Nano S.
Connecting to a computer
When you connect the Ledger to your computer with the supplied USB cable, the device will switch on immediately. You can set up the Nano S as a new device or restore an existing wallet.
Set your PIN code
You start with securing the Nano S by setting a PIN that can be 4 up to 8 digits. Remember this PIN, it’s your access to your wallet. If you unexpectedly forget the PIN, you can restore your wallet using your recovery seed.
Document the recovery seed
With the recovery seed you can always access your wallet again. The recovery seed consists of 24 words that are displayed during initial use. On the supplied paper, write down all the words. Keep this piece of paper well secured! The seed can also be used to backup your wallet on a second Ledger.
After you have documented the 24 words, the device asks for confirmation of some of them. After selecting the correct words from the list, the configuration is complete.
Install the apps
Finally, there are three apps pre-installed on the Nano S: Bitcoin, Ethereum and Fido U2F. The apps allow you to manage your cryptocurrencies. To use these apps, you need a computer that is running Windows, Linux, or Mac OS. Other examples of apps are, for example, meant for other currencies like Dash, Dogecoin, but also the Ledger Manager. The Ledger Manager lets you install more apps or update the firmware, for example.
Because Ledger has limited memory, you can have approximately 5 apps installed at the same time, but you can simply delete and add apps without losing your coins. Adding an app is done within a few seconds. For example, if you have saved Ethereum but you do not use it regularly, you can simply delete the Ethereum app until you need to transfer Ethereum. If you find this method inconvenient, you could choose to order a second Nano S. Another option is to order the Ledger Blue, which has 50% more memory and more space to install apps.
Using the Ledger Nano S
One of the biggest reasons why hardware wallets are so popular is because, besides keeping your crypto money save, you can also carry out transactions and see your balance.
To send bitcoins, use the Chrome app. The Chrome app does not work differently from any other online wallet software. You fill in the amount of BTC you want to send, the bitcoin address of the recipient, and you click send. Transactions are always confirmed by physically using the buttons on the Ledger.
In order to receive bitcoins, you can scan the QR code in the “Bitcoins received” screen. Alternatively, you can email or print this code to those who want to transfer bitcoins to your wallet. Or to yourself, if you want to send bitcoins from another wallet to your Ledger.
Within your wallet you can create different accounts. You can consider those accounts a bank account with different account numbers. All accounts belong to your wallet; so they are all protected within your hardware wallet.
Operating the Ledger Nano S
Using the Ledger Nano S is very easy and convenient for such a small device. You simply scroll through the lists and menus using the two buttons. Confirmations are made by pressing simultaneously on those two buttons. You must have a little patience if you have to enter your recovery seed. However, it’s likely that you do not often need to do that.
Turning off the Ledger Nano S
When you plug the hardware wallet out of your computer, you also shut down the device automatically.
Supported devices and cryptocurrencies
The choice for a particular hardware wallet will mainly depend on the cryptocurrencies that the wallet supports. The Nano S supports most popular currencies and is continuously expanding to add more. Additionally, you can use the device’s apps on the best-known operating systems.
The Ledger Nano S can be used on the following operating systems with a Chrome browser on it:
- Chrome OS
Currently, the following cryptocurrencies are supported, but support for new currencies is continuously being worked on.
Safety of the Ledger Nano S
The built-in security features make the private keys of your Bitcoins, Ethereum and altcoins 100% safe on your Ledger Nano S.
The firmware on Ledger Nano S is Open Source and is built on the BOLOS platform. BOLOS stands for “Blockchain Open Ledger Operating System” and Ledger has developed itself to provide every programmer in the world with the ability to develop Ledger Apps for Ledger devices. Each app is fully isolated.
Each time you plug the Ledger with the USB cable into your computer, you must enter a PIN to log in. This PIN can be 4 or 8 digits. In addition, you can set the Ledger to automatically enter lock mode after a few minutes. If you enter the PIN three times incorrectly, the Ledger Nano S is reset. To restore the wallet you will need the recovery seed.
During boot-up, the Nano S always generates a recovery seed. You can choose between 12, 18 or 24 words. If your hardware wallet gets stolen or you lose it, you can restore your wallet with these words in other supported wallet software. Or, for example, in other hardware wallets like Trezor or KeepKey.
On your Ledger Nano S you can add additional security, in case someone discovered your recovery seed: a password. With this password you actually secure your recovery seed (the 24 words). The password will encrypt your recovery seed.
To enter this password every time you launch the Nano S would be very impractical. Hence, the password is linked to a different PIN, which can be entered instead of the normal PIN when you boot the device. This gives you access to a “hidden” wallet: For example, you can choose to use your normal wallet for everyday use, and the hidden wallet for your “savings”.
Ledger Nano S display
The screen on the Nano S provides an additional security layer because important data can be verified on the device itself. It is much safer to display data on the device’s screen itself than on a computer. In addition, it offers the ability to confirm physical transactions, which of course, can’t be done by anyone else than you.
The Ledger contains an app for Fido U2F, which is the most popular standard for two-factor authentication.
During the delivery process
The package will be sealed. This is an additional check to confirm that the box has not been messed with during the shipping process. The seal must therefore be intact upon delivery! Additionally, the Secure Element (the secure chip) ensures to check the microcontroller flash when you start the device the first time. When tampered with, you will see a warning.
Integrations with other wallets
You can also use the hardware wallet in conjunction with other party wallets.
The company behind the Nano S
The French company Ledger was founded in 2015 and has the main focus of developing secure hardware devices. Ledger is known as a trustworthy and responsive company. The support team always answers questions quickly – which also shows from our own experience.
What happens if I forget my PIN?
After three incorrect attempts to enter your PIN, the device restores itself to its factory settings, thereby deleting your master seed. You can restore the Ledger using the 24 words.
What happens after a defect, loss or theft?
If the device unexpectedly breaks or gets lost, the seed (the 24 words you have physically documented) is all you need to get back to your bitcoins, because the private key is generated based on the BIP 39 / BIP 44 standard. That default is embedded in each Nano S chip, and connects the 24 words to the private key. Because they always belong together within the BIP 39 / BIP 44 standard, you can always access the private key as long as you know the 24 words. On each wallet that maintains this standard, you can enter the private key and get back to your bitcoins.
What if the company goes bankrupt?
Due to the use of open standards for creating the backup seed, you are assured that you still maintain control over your bitcoins if the company is bankrupt. You can then restore your wallet to various software wallets like Copay, Electrum and Mycelium.
Comparison with other hardware wallets
At present, Ledger Nano S is one of the best-selling hardware wallets, and that’s not without reason. The device is well priced compared to the competition, while the hardware wallet is one of the most innovative hardware wallets out there.
Ledger Nano S vs Trezor
The Nano S and the Trezor are the two best-selling hardware wallets, the Nano S costs € 69.90 and the Trezor € 89.00, for both the shipping costs are included. When it comes to which cryptocoins you want to save on your wallet, there are some minor differences. In the user interface, the Ledger apps are a little nicer to work with. Both devices give you the very best safety standards and functionality. We’ve put together all the functionality in a handy overview.
Ledger Nano S vs KeepKey
Do you hesitate between the Ledger Nano S and a KeepKey? Fact is that Ledger is actively building new functionalities and support for new coins. The Nano supports more currencies and there are more integrations available. We recommend taking a look on our complete comparison.
Buy the Ledger Nano S
You can buy the Ledger Nano S now through the official site and be sure of secure shipment.