Context: I have a Nano S since before, with one recovery phrase and a wallet with some minor BTC on it. Bought a Nano X, set up with a new phrase, and a new wallet, and put some coins in that. Then I imported the old wallet to the new device as well via Ledger Live, so there's two wallets. But then I started wondering:

Is the recovery phrase per device or wallet, or how does it work? If someone gets my old phrase, can they unlock my new device as well, or can they only unlock the old wallet?

It seems it would be possible to unlock the old wallet with either the new or old phrases, but the new wallet only with the new phrase?

Been scouring through the docs but it doesn't really say how this works. I guess when I imported, it should have regenerated that same old wallet but with new keys? But would want to be sure.

Not too worried about the old wallet, but the new. So if someone still can recover only the old one, I would not care that much, but is my new wallet on both phrases somehow I guess is my question, or is it only on my new Nano X devices phrase?


The keys are tied to the mnemonic (or seed phrase or recovery phrase) that you use. The keys are derived directly from it. If any gains access to the mnemonic, they can directly produce the private keys that you used without access to any of the physical hardware. Furthermore, having the mnemonic does not allow them to unlock your hardware wallet - the PIN you use is independent of and unrelated to the mnemonic and the private keys. But that is moot because if someone has the mnemonic, they don't need your hardware to take your Bitcoin.

Importing means that you setup a new device with the same mnemonic. So anyone with the mnemonic can still take your Bitcoin. If they get access to the old device and figure out the PIN, then they can also take your Bitcoin because it is the same private keys.

  • Still not sure that is what I mean. The new device is setup with a completely new recovery phrase, and a new wallet. Then I also imported the old wallet via the Ledger Live app. The only thing I actually care about is if both wallets are accessible through the old phrase or if the newly created at least is separate. The old wallet is not that important, even though there's some value in it for now. If importing from the old device somehow made double recovery phrases I will have to start over the process, because I don't trust that one 100% – Stoffe Dec 21 '20 at 10:25
  • To be extra clear, since I setup and created the new device and wallet first, I would at least not expect the import to throw away that phrase, but does it recode the imported value, save both phrases or what? And so on... – Stoffe Dec 21 '20 at 10:28
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    The new phrase is independent of the old one. If someone gets access to the old one, they cannot get access to the new one or any coins associated with the new phrase. I'm not sure what the import does, but there's no way for it to link the two phrases together like how you are suggesting. – Andrew Chow Dec 21 '20 at 17:23

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