The Harpie Blog
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The Harpie Blog

WTF is Wallet Corruption: A weird and shocking way to lose your crypto.

For people who experience wallet corruption, the only thing they can say is WTF.

Introducing the risk

Losing your NFTs to a corrupted wallet might be easier than you think.

Many people who entered the crypto space in recent years came in during the awesome trading and NFT bull run of 2021. Many beginners entered the space with zero or very little knowledge of crypto security/resiliency.

However, basic security questions like:

  • How do I protect my seed phrase?
  • Why shouldn’t I share my seed phrase?
  • Why should I use a hardware wallet?

…are easily answered with a quick Google search or a conversation with a friend.

Many people don’t know of all the different ways they can suddenly lose their crypto. One of these ways being wallet corruption. Luckily, being smart with your crypto security and web3 usage will drastically decrease your risk from this error.

What is Wallet Corruption?

Simply put, wallet corruption is an error on the wallet’s side that prevents you from accessing your wallet, and by extension, the crypto and NFTs inside. This corruption can be caused by a few different things, including faulty software or losing power in the middle of a Trezor firmware update.

For the few years I’ve been in the crypto space, I’ve met 4 (FOUR!!! 😱) people that have lost their crypto due to wallet corruption. For people who have kept their backup seed phrases safe, it’s a minor inconvenience. But if you didn’t, you’re now locked out of your wallet forever.

Even reputable companies like MetaMask, Trezor & Ledger have dealt with people being locked out of their wallets. Who knows if newer wallets like Coinbase Wallet or Crypto.com’s DeFi Wallet will suffer the same issues as the OGs?

How can I protect myself?

I wonder what happens if you try generating this wallet? 🤔

Security and web3 is hard, so let’s do a refresher.

A “wallet” is software that holds your private keys. With your private key, you can sign transactions & send crypto/NFTs. Think of your private key as your password.

A “seed phrase” is a set of 12–24+ randomly generated words. If you lose your private keys, your seed phrase can recreate them. If a private key is your password, your seed phrase is your password recovery method.

Here’s an important distinction:

Your wallet is ❌NOT❌ where your crypto and NFTs live.

Your crypto lives on the blockchain. It’s like one giant database (with thousands of backups) that keeps a record of every transaction. That’s why you can regenerate your wallet’s private keys with a backup seed phrase and find all your crypto and NFTs sitting inside the wallet.

Okay, now tell me what to do.

Now with that out of the way, here are some things that you can do right now to make sure wallet corruption doesn’t f*ck you 🧠:

  • If you don’t have a seed phrase backup of your wallet, make one immediately. Write it down on a piece of paper, make a few copies, and store it somewhere safe. Seriously.
  • Try regenerating your wallet with your seed phrase on another device to make sure they actually work. If you import your wallet and there’s nothing in there, your seed phrase is wrong.
  • NEVER give your seed phrase or private key to anybody other than the verified wallets you’re using. See below.
  • Consider spreading your assets across a couple wallets so that you don’t get completely wiped out if things don’t go right. I personally have 2 hardware wallets and 2 “hot wallets” that I do trades on. My NFTs are spread across my hardware wallets.
This is a fake Ledger Live app. Do not give your seed phrase to this website. Best way to check if something is legit is to double and triple check the URLs of websites. ‘ledger.com’ and ‘Iedger.com’ look VERY similar but are not the same site.

Follow these steps and you will be well on your way to protecting your wallet. Stay safe out there and LFG. ✨

If you’ve found this guide helpful, I encourage you to check out Harpie. We’re a failsafe for your crypto. In disasters like corrupted wallets or destroyed seed phrases, we can help you recover your crypto without ever needing to give us your seed phrase or private keys. Check the project at https://harpie.io. Feel free to reach out to me (@Thugzook) on twitter if you have any questions!

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