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Umami — Keystores vs. Mnemonics

Firstly, we’re happy to announce that Umami now supports keystore backups!

“What is a keystore (a.k.a. backup)?” you might ask; followed by “How is this different than a mnemonic (a.k.a. recovery phrase)?”

The short answer: the keystore is a password-protected file backup of your cryptographic keys; the downside is that you’re generally stuck on wallets of the same brand.

Let’s go over it.

What are they?

Keystore: (a.k.a. backup) a password-protected file backup of your private key (or set of private keys); which is the most critical part needed to unlock your accounts and your assets.

Located in Settings, the Wallet Backup, a.k.a. the Keystore
When starting a brand new wallet, you can restore from a keystore

Mnemonic: (a.k.a. recovery phrase) a series of simple English words, which put together can be used to recompose your private key.

Located in Accounts->Management View, it displays your mnemonic
How you import a mnemonic

How are they different?

There are two important differences:

  1. the keystore is protected (i.e. encrypted), whereas the mnemonic is not;
  2. the keystore is only usable by supporting wallets (usually only on wallets of the same brand), whereas mnemonics are usable by practically all wallets.

Otherwise said:

  • keystore: password-protected
  • mnemonic: portable

When should I use one over the other?

Let’s go over scenarios:

“I want to make sure I don’t lose access; you know… what if my computer crashes or I lose my computer or I lose my hardware wallet?… so I want a backup of my keys.”

Ok, either the keystore or the mnemonic will address your issue.

With a keystore generated in Umami, you will only be able to restore your accounts on another installation of Umami. However, it is password protected, so if someone else gets their hands on it, they would also need your password in order to take over your accounts.

With a mnemonic, you will be able to reload your account on wallets of any wallet easily.

“I want to move my accounts to another wallet brand; for example: from a wallet of another brand to Umami, or vice-versa.”

In this case, only the mnemonic will work. Wallets generally cannot open keystores generated by wallets of other brands.

“I want to copy my accounts to another wallet of the same brand; for example Umami on my desktop to Umami on my laptop.”

In this case, either the mnemonic or the keystore will work.

Using a keystore, it requires you to send/move the keystore file over to the other computer somehow; or for the keystore file to be accessible from both locations (e.g. a shared drive).



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