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Ledger Nano S
Review and Comments 2018

(91%, Review by Malte)

Available at

Check all 3 prices (PopUp)
  • Buy directly from the manufacturer without intermediaries
  • shipping from Europa, USA and Hong Kong
  • free replacement in case of defect
  • authorized reseller of hardware wallets
Hardware Wallets
  • 1st place in bitcoin Wallet privacy rating report 2016
  • inexpensive Hardware Wallet
  • easy to use and set up
  • supports a wide range of altcoins
  • running open source apps in complete isolation
  • also usable with android smartphones via an OTG cable
  • Fido/U2F compatible for secure online registration
  • own display and buttons as a second factor
  • limited space for apps (see review)

Test Result

Ledger Nano S

91%

First Impression
95%
Setup
85%
Handling
80%
Compatibility
100%
Documentation & Support
90%
Security
95%

Ledger Nano S Review 2018

The Ledger Nano S , together with TREZOR, is one of the most popular hardware wallets on the market. Only 2014 founded, Ledger has already sold over a million devices in over 160 countries.

I bought the Nano S in the ledger online shop . In the following I will take a close look at everything from unpacking to completing the first transaction. There are many helpful tips and comments.

First Impression

The Webshop

At the beginning of each hardware wallet is the purchase in an online shop. Until now, hardware wallets have been available almost exclusively on the Internet.

The webshop of Ledger is very clearly structured and all prices are issued directly in euros including taxes. This results in a price of 94,01 € (click here to check the current price). In addition to Bitcoin, credit cards and PayPal are also accepted as payment methods. Since the beginning of 2018, shipping is free of charge in almost all countries of the world.

Of course, the Ledger Nano S can also be ordered via one of the official retailers. These are in close contact with ledger and take care of the respective distribution in your country. This includes the German shop .

Important Note on Buying Hardware Wallets

Hardware wallets should preferably be ordered directly from the manufacturer or official resellers.

Dubious shops or private sellers on platforms such as ebay or amazon could manipulate the devices for their purposes or trick the buyer. This way the thieves can steal all coins from your hardware wallet at a later time. Unfortunately, there have been such cases in the past.

Contents of the Package

Once you have completed your order and waited patiently for your package, you are about to unpack.

Ledger Nano S Packaging

package front side from the Ledger Nano S

The Ledger Nano S is packed in a small, very high quality, white packaging. It is very similar to the packaging of Apple products, which also rely on such a grey and white style.

The Seal

Ledger Nano S Seal

the seal on the side should only point to the used anti-tampering technology of Ledger

On one side, the packaging is protected by a seal, and the packaging can be opened without breaking this seal. But do not worry this is intended because the Ledger Nano S is also protected from firmware modifications on the software side.

A conventional seal, which is supposed to securely seal the packaging, induces deceptive security. It is possible that for example, the packaging was replaced after modifying the hardware wallet or that the seals could be opened by a special process without breaking.

Update: Meanwhile, the cartons are shipped completely without a seal, as this has led to many misunderstandings. Ledger points out that a seal is an inadequate protection and therefore relies entirely on the software-side solution to eliminate misuse.

Scope of Delivery for the Ledger Nano S

Ledger Nano S Open box

the Ledger Nano S in the opened box

If you open the carton now, the Ledger Nano S lights up directly towards you, which is protected in a shock-proof foam. The display, buttons and USB connection are protected by an aluminium cover, similar to that of some USB sticks. On the one hand, the company name “Ledger” is engraved, on the other hand the sentence “vires in Numero”, which is Latin for “strength by Numbers”.

the complete scope of delivery for the Ledger Nano S

In the second level of the package you will find a small folder with the “Getting Started” manual and a pre-printed form for the recovery seed On this one, the 24 words are later written down which represent the access to all your cryptocurrencies.

In addition, bands and rings are available to carry the hardware wallet around the neck or keychain. And of course there is the USB to micro-USB cable to connect the Hardware Wallet to a computer. For the connection with an android smartphone a special OTG adapter is needed, which you can also purchase in the ledger shop .

First Impression: Conclusion

The order is already very inviting due to the various shipping and payment methods in the Ledger shop . Overall, the content is extensive and well manufactured. Especially the Ledger Nano S stands out due to its aluminium casing.

Setting Up the Ledger Nano S

Important Note for Setup

Never use a hardware wallet that is already set up. You must choose your own PIN code and write down the backup yourself. This is not given by anyone!

The hardware wallet is now unpacked. But until you can really manage your cryptocurrencies, you still need a short setup.

Ledger Nano S Getting Started

to start the setup, go to start.ledgerwallet.com

The enclosed “Getting Started” card gives you a hint of the right way: Visit the website start.ledgerwallet.com . Here you will be directed to the latest software from Ledger, Ledger Live.

Ledger Live

Ledger Live was released in July 2018 by ledger and is the new software counterpart to the ledger hardware wallets. This software allows you to set up any ledger hardware wallet, but also to manage all cryptocurrencies later. The cumbersome way of using different chrome extensions is a part of the past.

The software can be downloaded from the ledger page. It is compatible with both Mac, Windows and Linux – a mobile version for Android and iOS is already in the works.

Ledger live Get Started

After installation the software opens automatically and you can start the setup via the button “Get Started”. There are now several options available:

  • setting up a new device
  • restoring an old device with the help of recovery seed
  • use a device that is already set up
  • buy a Hardware Wallet from ledger

For a new setup you choose the first option. Then you will be asked for the exact model you would like to set up. After clicking on the Ledger Nano S you will be guided through the setup process. The software only displays support tips and hints, but the setup is completely detached only at the hardware wallet itself.

Connecting and Short Instruction

The first thing you do is connect your Ledger Nano S to a computer using the supplied USB cable. If you are very concerned about your safety, you can alternatively connect the Ledger Nano S with an adapter directly to the socket or use a power bank. No matter how you supply the Ledger Nano S with power, now we continue with the setup.

First, the use of the two buttons is explained: a simultaneous pressing of both buttons is equal to an “OK”. Scroll through lists by pressing the left and right buttons. After pressing both keys for confirmation, the configuration is started.

Ledger Nano S Start Setup

configure as new device or or restore from existing backup

At the beginning you will be asked once again whether you want to configure the device as a new device or if you want to use your already created recovery seed to restore an old wallet. Since there is no recovery seed yet, the device is reconfigured using the right button.

Set PIN Code

You will now be asked to specify a PIN code. This secures the hardware wallet from unauthorized use by asking for it every time the device is switched on. This must be entered twice to exclude a typo.

Ledger Nano S Pin code

For security, a PIN code is created

You can assign up to eight digits, where four is the minimum. You can delete a character by selecting the “delete” symbol below the 0.

Create the Recovery Seed

Ledger Nano S Recovery phrase

the recovery seed must be noted for the backup of the wallet.

Then you are asked to write the backup (“Recovery Seed”) in the form of 24 words on the provided sheet in the scope of delivery.

Important Note on Hardware Wallet Backups (Recovery Seed)

Your recovery seed is the backup key to all your cryptocurrencies and applications. The recovery seed (backup) can only be displayed once. Never make a digital copy of the recovery seed and never upload it online. Keep the recovery seed in a safe place, ideally safe from fire and water, for example with Billfodl.

Nobody but yourself can be held liable for financial losses caused by improper handling of sensitive data.

With the help of this key you can restore the cryptocurrencies of the hardware wallet to any Ledger device, but also to other software, online or hardware wallets. For maximum security, it is recommended that you write down the recovery seed one more time and store it in a second place, for example in a bank or at friends or relatives. But remember that everyone who has access to this sheet also has access to your cryptocurrencies .

 

Ledger Nano S Recovery phrase Word 24

last word of the recovery seed is displayed

If you have written down the last word, you have to press both keys for confirmation.

Ledger Nano S Confirmation of Wiederherstellungschlüssels

to confirm that you have recorded everything correctly, individual words are checked

Then, with the latest firmware version, all words are checked again to ensure that they have been correctly noted. This is an important step, as the Recovery Seed is the key to the coins and must be noted. This way you can exclude possible careless errors, for example by a forgotten word.

Security Checklist

The hardware wallet is now ready. However, Ledger Live still requests to go through a security checklist.

Ledger Live Security Checklist

security issues to protect against fraudsters

Here you will be asked if you really chose the PIN and the recovery seed yourself. Finally, a verification of the authenticity of the hardware wallet follows. For this purpose, Ledger Live directly accesses your Ledger Nano S, which is why the action on the hardware wallet must be confirmed. This step is to exclude the fact that a compromised hardware wallet has been obtained from fraudsters. Only a real Ledger device can provide the cryptographic evidence required to connect to the secure server of Ledger. This process may take a few moments.

Ledger Live Password and Analysis

Choose an optional password that will unlock the application to protect your privacy. Only those who have the password can see the current status of the portfolio. This functionality is especially useful when using a shared computer.

If you forget the password, the software Ledger Live must be reseted. Forgetting has no effect on your cryptocurrencies, but the software needs to be reconfigured.

Ledger Live Ready

Finally, you can send Ledger voluntarily extended anonymous data on the usage behavior to further improve the software. Then you can start the software.

Manage Cryptocurrencies with Ledger Live

After setup, you can start adding accounts for different cryptocurrencies to Ledger Live. These behave like bank accounts through which you can send and receive the corresponding currencies.

However, before you can add the accounts you need, you need also the app for the corresponding cryptocurrencies on the hardware wallet itself. In the delivery state, some apps for cryptocurrencies are already pre-installed in addition to the settings app.

Ledger Nano S first app

the first app on the hardware wallet: the settings

Ledger Nano S Apps

To manage the apps, you open the tab “Manager” in Ledger Live.

Ledger Live Manager

the Ledger Live manager

Here you will find a list of all available apps that can be installed and deleted from here. Besides the apps for all known cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum there are many more apps for lesser known coins. There are also apps for other areas that use the cryptography of the device. For example, there is an SSH agent or an app to check the recovery seed.

App for the Fido U2F Standard
Ledger Nano S Fido U2F Google

authenticate with the Ledger Nano S when signing in to Google

There is also an app called Fido U2F. With the Fido U2F standard you can use your Ledger Nano S as a second factor when logging in to different services.

If you make your device known to your Google account, for example, when you sign up for untrusted devices, you must also always connect the hardware wallet to your computer in addition to your password. This is supposed to make it harder for hackers to log in with your accounts.

App Limit Note

For a long time only about five apps could be installed at the same time on the Ledger Nano S due to the low storage space, but sometimes also more. This place depended on which apps are installed and also in what order.

Since March 2018 with the latest firmware version it may be possible to install a lot more apps on the Nano S. Because many cryptocurrencies are forks of Bitcoin, which also resembles large portions of the code of the apps of these forks. Ledger has therefore placed this common code base in the Bitcoin app, which greatly reduces the size of the other apps. Using this principle, it is possible to install up to 18 applications that share this library. However, if applications are installed with a completely different codebase (e.g. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Fido U2F, password manager), you are still limited to 4 or 5 applications.

In summary, depending on the type of applications installed, a different result can be achieved. Most likely you will be able to install approximately 10 apps. However, you can still manage all your apps by not having all of them installed at the same time. Simply uninstall and install apps from the Ledger manager If you want to use them. These steps only take a few seconds.

Example: If you only hold your Ethereum and do not use it regularly, the app can also be uninstalled. Once you want to transfer your Ethereum, simply install the app again.

So don’t worry: even if you uninstall an application, you won’t lose your coins. Because the seed remains intact. If this is too uncomfortable for you, you can of course also handle the whole thing with a second Ledger Nano S . Or you decide on the Hardware Wallet Ledger Blue. The problem has been identified and the Ledger Blue has been allocated about 50% more memory.

ModelFlash MemoryRAM
Ledger Nano S320 kilobytes10 kilobytes
Ledger Blue480 kilobytes12 kilobytes

All values has not yet been calculated with the operating system of ledger. This effectively reduces the amount of space for apps on the devices. The Ledger Blue provides space for eight to 10 apps with different code base.

Add Account

If the app is available on the hardware wallet, you are now also able to add this coin account to Ledger Live. Just click on the plus symbol for accounts and follow the dialogue. The added accounts will then appear listed in the menu bar, but are also clearly summarized on the portfolio page.

Ledger live Add Account

add an account with Ledger live

You can now make transactions on any computer that has Ledger Live installed. No matter if it is infected with viruses and malware or is on a public network. The transactions are verified by the hardware wallet and validated by the display and the buttons by you.

Setup: Conclusion

It is easy to set up, because the Ledger Live software guides you through the process. The only point of criticism is the app management, because you first have to install the corresponding app for the desired cryptocurrency before you can start. In addition, the number of apps is also limited.

This way of building, however, also offers developers the opportunity to create unique apps. Each user of a Ledger hardware wallet benefits from this inthe long run.

Ledger Nano S Handling

The hardware wallet is now configured and secured. The following test section shows how the Ledger Nano S has proven itself in my everyday life. At the beginning, the most important function is examined: Performing a simple transaction.

Performing a Transaction

Transaction can be carried out with various software wallets that support Ledger. Of course, the software Ledger Live is optimally designed for Ledger Nano S. Here you can send and receive any supported cryptocurrency via the “Send” and “Receive” tabs.

Receive Cryptocurrencies

Clicking on the button “receive” opens a small window which leads you through the process.

Receive Ledger Live

receive cryptocurrencies with Ledger Live

The first thing to do is select the account that will receive the coins. Then you open the corresponding app on the device and confirm the address. Clicking on the button will display the address on both the hardware wallet and the PC display. Only if the two addresses match, you should send your Bitcoins to that address. Otherwise, your computer might be hacked and the displayed address will be manipulated on your monitor.

You now have the possibility to copy the address or to scan with the help of the QR code. You can also print the address or send it by e-mail.

Sending Cryptocurrencies

To send cryptocurrencies, click on the “Send” tab. As with receiving, you now select the account you would like to debit and then specify both the recipient and the amount. The fees can also be set here. Clicking “Continue” will send the address to the hardware wallet for verification.

The hardware wallet now shows the entire transaction including fees.

Ledger Nano S Verify Transaction

Each transaction must be confirmed on the hardware wallet itself.

The right button then finally verifies the transaction directly on the device, which means that the private keys never come into contact with the PC.

General Operation of the Ledger Nano S

Ledger Nano S Buttons

the operation of the Ledger Nano S is intuitive despite two buttons

As already mentioned, the operation on the hardware wallet Ledger Nano S itself is very simple and straightforward:

You scroll through lists and menus by clicking a button at the moment. You can trigger confirmations or make a selection by pressing both buttons simultaneously. This works without delay and is very reliable.

The only point of criticism here is the entry of the recovery seed, which usually takes a very long time. Because using only two buttons to scroll through the alphabet can be nerve-wracking. It is enough to enter the first 2-5 letters of each word and then scroll through a list of words, but this requires a lot of patience.

However, since this is very rare, it is not too painful. Moreover, this method has the big advantage that the seed can be typed directly on the device and one is so safe from keyloggers.

Turning off the Ledger Nano S

Ledger Nano S on a keyboard

To switch off simply disconnect all connections and exit the software

A bit of getting used to is the end and shutdown of the hardware wallet Ledger Nano S: Just disconnect the cable and make the device powerless.

Handling: Conclusion

Everyday use is possible with the Ledger Nano S hardware wallet without any circumstances. The software provided by Ledger provides all the basic options and the operation via the two buttons is quick and easy. In summary, I can say that it is very easy to carry out a transaction. The additional push of a button on the device is not a major limitation, but it ensures a high degree of safety.

Supported Devices and Currencies

According to Ledger, the Ledger Nano S is compatible with almost all operating systems.

Ledger’s hardware wallets are clearly ahead when it comes to supported cryptocurrencies. New cryptocurrencies are implemented on a regular basis, both for the hardware wallet Ledger Blue and for the Ledger Nano S. Currently the following cryptocurrencies are supported:

A complete list together with the corresponding software wallet can always be found on the website of the manufacturer: Ledger Nano S Cryptocurrencies.

The only interface is the USB port. With the Ledger Nano S It is therefore not possible to make transactions wirelessly. However, using a OTG cable , you can also use the android smartphone to verify compatible apps such as GreenBits transactions. IPhones have the slightly more limited operating system iOS installed, which unfortunately can not handle USB devices. As an alternative, you can use the watch-only function of its hardware wallet and install an app that only monitors the wallet and cannot make any transactions.

The Ledger Nano S supports, among other things, the following third-party wallets and services:

Compatibility: Conclusion

The Ledger Nano S is available for mobile (Android) as well as for the desktop computer. It also offers numerous other possibilities, such as compatibility with exchanges such as Bitstamp or the use as a universal second factor.

Documentation and Support

As already described, there is no instruction manual but only a quick Start guide for the setup. Ledger offers a comprehensive online documentation for its hardware wallets. This is constantly updated and expanded and gives answers to almost every question.

If questions remain open, you can contact the Ledger Support directly. This takes place primarily in writing via the support platform Zendesk. Just visit the contact page of the Ledger homepage and open a ticket. If you want, you can get to know a part of the team personally and visit the official shop in Paris. Unfortunately, the response times are sometimes very long, as the demand for Ledger hardware wallets has increased dramatically. Both documentation and support are preferably held in English.

In the event of a defect or malfunction and if the device was purchased directly from www.ledgerwallet.com and not by a reseller, the device will be exchanged free of charge after requesting an RMA number from the support team .

Security Aspects of the Ledger Nano S

Ledger Nano S Security

zhe settings also take you to the security settings

The BOLOS Platform

The Ledger Nano S is built around the BOLOS platform. BOLOS stands for Blockchain Open Ledger Operating System and is a development of Ledger to give every developer in the world the opportunity to write apps for Ledger devices. You can use the secure features of the hardware wallet without causing any damage, as each app runs in complete isolation.

BOLOS is a way of turning hardware wallets into personal security devices. Users can install third-party applications that add new privacy features through their own common set of cryptographic material without actually being able to read this material.

Security Pin

Each time the power is turned on, you must enter the Pin, which can consist of four to eight digits.

Ledger Nano S Shuffle pin

This option always selects different starting numbers when entering a pin

In the settings you can also adjust that the number of the set is always changed and that it is not possible to read the Pin by the finger movement of third parties.

Ledger Nano S Auto Lock

Different time periods are available for automatic locking

It is also possible to automatically lock the wallet after a few minutes with the current firmware. Manually you can lock the hardware wallet at any time by holding down both buttons for three seconds.

If you set the pin incorrectly three times, the Ledger Nano S is reseted. To restore its addresses you need the recovery seed now.

The Recovery Seed

The Ledger Nano S always creates a recovery seed in formof 24 words. In case of theft or damage you can restore your wallets with a compatible hardware or software wallet with the help of the recovery seed.

Ledger Nano S Restore

selecting the number of words to recover a wallet

With a Ledger Nano S you can recover a recovery seed consisting of 12, 18 or 24 words, for example also of competing products such as TREZOR or Keepkey. That worked out in the tests without any problems. It is recommended to always test it at the beginning, as long as you have only a few Bitcoins on the device.

Display and Buttons

Ledger Nano S Verify Transaction

The keys and the screen on the hardware wallet itself can be used to exclude any manipulation on the computer

A transaction is always validated via the display and the buttons, so that a forgery of the transaction can be excluded by malware on the computer.

Setting up the wallet can also be done separately from a computer, so that no one can assign the IP address to this wallet. After the setup you can use another private wallet software like Electrum.

Passphrase Encryption

Encryption by passphrase further increases security by using additional passwords at startup.

Important Note for Passphrase Security

The passphrase option allows you to open multiple hidden wallets. Each passphrase opens a new, independent wallet based on your seed. This gives you the possibility of a plausible deniability in case of blackmail, because the recovery seed only opens the first wallet. Activate this option only if you really understand it so as not to lose access to your coins!

Ledger Nano S Set Password

With the Ledger Nano S you can set up a hidden wallet

You should use passphrase encryption mainly for two reasons:

  • If someone gets access to your 24 recovery key, the game is actually over. However, if there is an additional password, you will not be approached to the original account without it.
  • In case of blackmail, you can give out a wrong password with only a little deposited money.

Entering the password every time the Ledger Nano S is started would be very impractical. Therefore, you link the password with another pin, which you can enter in place of the normal pin at startup. This gives you a second access that applies to all cryptocurrencies. Imaginable is a wallet for everyday use and a hidden one for savings deposits.

Security: Conclusion

In contrast to the biggest competitor TREZOR, the firmware is not open source because of a non-disclosure agreement with a security chip manufacturer, only the software is open source.

However, the specifications are fully exposed and all cryptographic operations are deterministic. This means that every user can check whether the card answers, what it should do and if there is no side channel. This approach is widely used in the smart card industry and is generally used to obtain security certificates for bank and identity products.

This makes the Ledger Nano S a very safe way to store cryptocurrencies . It is not for nothing that Ledger occupies first place in the Bitcoin Wallet Privacy Rating Report 2016.



Product Specifications

PlatformWindows, Linux, Mac, Android, Chrome OS
CryptocurrenciesBitcoin, Vechain, Icon, Peeercoin, Stealth, Woleet, Wanchain, Kowala, Particl, Rootstock, Waves, Rise, FIC Network, EOS, POA network, IOTA, Nano, Nimiq, Zcoin, Tron, Ontology, Hycon, Pirl, Akroma, Bitcoin Private, ZenCash, NEO, Bitcoin Gold, Stellar, Hcash, DigiByte, Qtum, PivX, Vertcoin, Viacoin, Expanse, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Zcash, Dash, Stratis, Ripple, Komodo, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum Classic, ERC-20 Tokens, PoSW, ARK
CompatibilityLedger Wallet Bitcoin, woleet, OpenPGP, Ledger Password Manager, Ledger Wallet Ethereum, Mycelium, Copay, Electrum, MyEtherWallet, GreenBits, BitGo, FIDO/U2F, Bitstamp
Package Contents
  • Ledger Nano S
  • USB Cable
  • Guide
  • Recovery sheet
  • Accessories (neck strap, ring for keychain)
Input OptionsButtons
Comments5  comments
BrandLedger
Altcoin Support
Supported Coins49 Coins
FIDO U2F Authenticator
Open Source
Weight16g
InterfacesUSB
Size98x18x9mm
Screen 2FA
CategoryHardware Wallets
Advantages
  • 1st place in bitcoin Wallet privacy rating report 2016
  • inexpensive Hardware Wallet
  • easy to use and set up
  • supports a wide range of altcoins
  • running open source apps in complete isolation
  • also usable with android smartphones via an OTG cable
  • Fido/U2F compatible for secure online registration
  • own display and buttons as a second factor
Disadvantages
  • limited space for apps (see review)

User Reviews 5

Got a question or an opinion for this product?

Share your own experiences with the product here, I am also looking forward to comments on the review.


Robert Motzel
17. February 2018 um 2:39

This might be a stupid question but i need to know. If I download my bitcoin from my exchange onto my Nano S does that mean, my exchange wallet is empty and my bitcoin is no longer in play on the exchange but all in my Nano S.
OR, are my bitcoin still on the exchange and only my keys are on the Nano S for protection against hacking .
regards Newbie

Malte
17. February 2018

Hello,

when you send your Bitcoin from the exchange to the Ledger Nano S your exchange wallet is empty. If you want to sell them again you have to transfer the coins back to the exchange.


daniel
13. November 2017 um 12:02

Nano’s is OK. But that support is a disaster
literally. Three weeks at least.
I have nano s reinstalled with the 24 words
but my credit is not that?
I get a different IBAN?
Support does not answer?
Daniel

Malte
13. November 2017

Hello, Daniel,

if you have correctly copied the 24 words and typed them in again, the same wallet will be restored. If the credit is missing, you must have made a mistake with one of them. Or maybe the password encryption was activated?

I think you mean by IBAN the generated Bitcoin address? Here it is normal that they can be different, but the base (the seed) is always the same.

If you have received a confirmation of your request from the support team, then someone will certainly take care of it. Three weeks seems very long to me. Have you opened a ticket on their support page?

Greetings, Malte


Johnk863
5. November 2017 um 22:05

I would definitely not recommend these as ways to break the ice however.




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  • free replacement in case of defect

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