How to Set Up a Ledger Nano S

Last Updated September 5, 2018
Posted By Luke      No Comments

Let’s walk you through exactly how to set up a Ledger Nano S.

You will need three things in order to continue with this lesson:

  • A Ledger Nano S device (available here)
  • Google Chrome on laptop/desktop
  • Install the apps you require from here:

We recommend starting with the following apps from the above link:

  • Ledger Wallet Bitcoin & Altcoins
  • Ledger Wallet Ethereum
  • Ledger Manager

If you require the other apps on the Ledger site then feel free to also download/install them, they will install directly into your Google Chrome browser.

They are web-based apps and you can access them by navigating to chrome://apps/ — this is worth bookmarking if it’s not bookmarked for you automatically.

Remember, Ethereum wallets can store any token that runs on the Ethereum blockchain — which is a lot of coins.


How to Set Up Your Hardware Wallet

The first thing to do is open your Ledger box and ensure everything is in there that it should be (and check that nothing is included that shouldn’t be!).

There are some nasty people out there that take their opportunity to try to scam the innocent. Please be aware of the possibility that your Ledger device may be fake or tampered with if you bought it from somewhere that wasn’t the Ledger website or official reseller. You don’t need to panic, just be alert.

Your Ledger device should include your Ledger hardware wallet (surprise!), a small cardboard package, a USB to micro-USB cable, and some less important things like a lanyard and more.

Open up the cardboard package — inside, there should be a blank sheet for writing your 24-word seed phrase down onto. If you don’t know what that is yet, don’t worry.

The first step is to connect your hardware wallet to your computer via the USB cable. Assuming your computer is switched on, the Ledger device should now power on for the first time.

On-screen messages should now direct you through the basic use of the device; click both buttons to confirm or continue, or navigate through using the left or right buttons.

You will now be prompted to create an 8-digit PIN code.

Once you choose your PIN, you will be asked to confirm it by re-entering it again. Needless to say, it’s vitally important that you remember this PIN code at all times.

After this has been set up, it’s time to generate and write down your 24-word seed.

Note: A common scam with hardware wallets is to provide your seed words for you on a scratchcard or similar. You should always generate and write down your own seed words otherwise you won’t be the only one with access to your funds.

This next process will take 5-10 minutes and is slightly tedious, but very important.

Grab your blank seed word sheet, a ballpoint pen or similar (try to avoid wet ink) and carefully write down each word displayed on your Ledger screen. It’s important that you write neatly; if you ever lose your Ledger, these words are the only way you can recover your funds.

After you’ve written down a word, click the right button to move to the next word.

Once you’ve written down the full list of words, you’ll need to confirm each word on the device again. As we say, this is tedious but extremely important.

Your hardware wallet should now be set up.

However, you won’t yet have any wallets showing. To add wallets, use the Ledger Manager app for Google Chrome (the one you hopefully installed in the first section of this lesson).

You can choose the cryptocurrency wallet you want, for example Bitcoin, and click to add it to your Ledger. You’ll need to click on the Ledger itself to confirm you wish to install.

After 20 seconds or so, the wallet should now be added. To use the wallet, exit the Ledger Manager app and open up the Ledger Wallet Bitcoin app.

This same app can be used to manage a variety of different cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, NEO, Monero and many more.

Alternatively, you can use the separate Ethereum or Ripple apps to manage those.


Plausible Deniability

If you lose your Ledger device or it gets stolen by someone that knows your PIN, your seed words are the only way you can recover your funds. On top of this, if someone gets access to your seed words then they could recover your funds. Your seed is your money.

To protect against the above, we can add a level of security called plausible deniability.

Let’s imagine a really bad situation occurs; someone targets you for your Ledger device and forces you to hand over your PIN code or seed words. In that situation they would get access to your main wallets and the cryptocurrency within them.

However, plausible deniability allows us to store secondary, hidden wallets behind another PIN.

An attacker would have no reason to believe you have hidden wallets for an ingenious reason: When you connect your Ledger Nano S and you’re prompted to insert your PIN, you actually have a choice of which PIN you which to insert (although the device doesn’t tell you this).

If you put your main PIN in, you can only access your main wallet. To access your secondary wallets you’d have to reconnect the device and put in the alternative PIN you’d set up for that.

To make things look realistic, ensure you have some funds in your main wallets and if you’re ever in the unfortunate situation where you’re targeted then just give away the PIN to your main wallet. It is not nice to think about but it’s always important to be prepared and you should always choose your life over your money.

However, keep the bulk of your funds secured in your secondary hidden wallets and you can plausibly deny that these funds or wallets even exist. After all, you handed over your PIN or seed words…why would they suspect your had a secondary alternative PIN?

How to set up secondary hidden wallets, or ‘plausible deniability’:

  • Connect your Ledger Nano S & navigate to ‘Settings’
  • Select ‘Security’
  • Select ‘Passphrase’
  • Select ‘Attach to a PIN’
  • Enter a second (and new) PIN code
  • Confirm this new code
  • Enter and confirm a secret passphrase (100 characters max)
  • Enter your first main PIN code to validate

For more information on setting up hidden wallets and plausible deniability, check out the Ledger documentation here:

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