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Recovering XRP Without the 12-Word Pass Phrase


Max777
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I have a question regarding lost pass phrases and phones, computer crashes, etc., where one can no longer access their XRP. 

I understand that when my phone falls over the side of a boat and sinks to the bottom of the ocean, that all photos and files stored on that phone are lost forever.  That makes sense to me. 

Regarding XRP, I also understand that if the XRP are stored on a Nano Ledger or similar cold storage device and that device is destroyed, the XRP are lost forever.  Again, this makes sense to me.

And it is also my understanding that if the XRP are stored in a software wallet, the XRP do not actually reside on the computer or phone, that they reside on “the blockchain”.  And if the computer or phone is destroyed, it is possible to retrieve the XRP is by using a 12- or 24-word pass phrase.

When a human is involved, things can happen that we never thought would happen. 

What if that 12-word pass phrase was no longer available at the time it was needed most?  Do the XRP float forever on the block chain?  What happens to them?

What I don't understand is how XRP, arguably the "greatest digital asset ever created”, requires that I keep a random 12-word phrase written on a piece of paper in a safe and secure place to maintain possession.  I mean, I used ID to buy it, I know the time the XRP were placed into the wallet/blockchain, and I know the number of XRP involved.  It really seems like it should be possible for me to prove I own them.

Here's what happened in my particular situation:  I installed a software Wallet.  Instead of writing the 12-word phrase on paper with a pencil, I copied it to Excel.  I then transferred XRP from Binance to the Wallet.  So far so good.  With both the Wallet and the Excel file open still open, I stepped away from the computer and when I returned the computer had restarted. The password wouldn't work so I could no longer open the Wallet.  The Excel autosave functionality didn't happen to capture the 12-word phrase.  The whole process took less than 20 minutes, from start to finish.

Is it really all over just as quickly as it began? 

I am fully prepared to accept this loss.  It just seems that a hand written note shouldn’t be the weak link in this technology.  It also seems like there would be some sort of process in place to accommodate for human error.

If anyone has any thoughts on to retrieve the lost XRP, or, to help me understand why they are indeed gone forever, it would be very much appreciated. 

Warmest regards!

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Max777 said:

Regarding XRP, I also understand that if the XRP are stored on a Nano Ledger or similar cold storage device and that device is destroyed, the XRP are lost forever.  Again, this makes sense to me.

Incorrect. Hardware wallets also require you to store a 12 or 24 word phrase as a backup.

2 hours ago, Max777 said:

If anyone has any thoughts on to retrieve the lost XRP

The best chance seems to be if you can work out the password to the wallet. This should be the easiest thing to remember. Try many different variations.

2 hours ago, Max777 said:

help me understand why they are indeed gone forever

Very briefly, blockchains only accept proof of ownership in the form of secret keys/passphrases because that allows them (in theory) to be completely unbiased and impartial no matter how influential or powerful the users interacting with them are.

The government can't steal your XRP or force you to give it up, because they don't know the key. Identity fraudsters can't pose as you and gain access to your XRP, because they don't know the key. By the same token, you lose the key, you lose the funds, you can't have it both ways.

This principle is what gives crypto blockchains value, without it you would have a completely different product that would probably not be worth holding.

 

To relate it to your situation: You might be able to prove to Binance that you withdrew the XRP from your Binance account, but you can't prove who owns the wallet that you withdrew them to. For all we know, you could have sent them to someone else's wallet and now be claiming it's your own.

Edited by at3n
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59 minutes ago, at3n said:

Incorrect. Hardware wallets also require you to store a 12 or 24 word phrase as a backup

Ah!  I did realize that a pass phrase was still required.  What I didn't realize was that even if the hardware wallet was destroyed, the XRP was still accessible with the pass phrase.  Thank you.

59 minutes ago, at3n said:

The best chance seems to be if you can work out the password to the wallet. This should be the easiest thing to remember. Try many different variations.

The wallet support team did verify there was no limit to the number of times I could try different passwords.  I even wrote a little script to generate passwords based on possible fat-fingered variations to try to be methodical about it.  The next day, I had another idea for a possible password, but this time when I opened the wallet to enter the password, there was no place to enter the password!  I'm pretty sure I didn't forget my password, so now I'm thinking when the computer restarted with the wallet open, somehow, something with related to the password got corrupted.  And then when the option to enter a password went away, it seemed even more likely.  Everything is still on my computer.  I'm still trying to figure out the next step.

59 minutes ago, at3n said:

The government can't steal your XRP or force you to give it up, because they don't know the key.

But what if an unscrupulous character (i.e. NOT the government) used tried and true torture techniques, up to and including death and dismemberment, to cause me to "voluntarily" give them them key.  Could they transfer the XRP to their own wallet and live happily ever after as long they don't leave any physical evidence and I'm never able to identify therm?

59 minutes ago, at3n said:

 

To relate it to your situation: You might be able to prove to Binance that you withdrew the XRP from your Binance account, but you can't prove who owns the wallet that you withdrew them to. For all we know, you could have sent them to someone else's wallet and now be claiming it's your own.

I agree, but I bet someone could figure out a way over that hurdle, especially if no one's trying to remain anonymous and can make a convincing case that they are the rightful owners.

Anyway, I really appreciate your response.  For now I'll keep trying to figure out how to get into this wallet.  Like I said before, I've taken full responsibility for this transgression and never expect to see these particular XRP again.  But I'll keep trying in the meantime.  Thanks again.

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37 minutes ago, Max777 said:

But what if an unscrupulous character (i.e. NOT the government) used tried and true torture techniques, up to and including death and dismemberment, to cause me to "voluntarily" give them them key.  Could they transfer the XRP to their own wallet and live happily ever after as long they don't leave any physical evidence and I'm never able to identify therm?

Yes, that's a thing, which is why anonymity is really important. The stolen coins can be traced through the blockchain to some extent, but I don't doubt there are plenty of ways for criminals to cash out without fear of it being traced back to them.

50 minutes ago, Max777 said:

I agree, but I bet someone could figure out a way over that hurdle, especially if no one's trying to remain anonymous and can make a convincing case that they are the rightful owners.

I don't see how that would be possible without compromising the security of the blockchain, but I'd be interested to hear your suggestions.

True decentralisation is one of the ultimate goals of cryptocurrency, which seems at odds with what you're asking for.

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2 hours ago, Max777 said:

Ah!  I did realize that a pass phrase was still required.  What I didn't realize was that even if the hardware wallet was destroyed, the XRP was still accessible with the pass phrase. 

The hardware wallet has a pin to use for transactions,  but also a list of words or numbers that are the account secret key.  You sound as though you are confusing those two seperate things.

XRP are never really in your wallet.  They only exist as a balance on the blockchain account.  In the cloud as it were.  All wallets, hardware and software, only hold the secret key that enables signing of transactions that can then be applied to the blockchain in the cloud.

If I may suggest though...   you are talking about the blockchain without understanding it’s functionality, advantages and purpose.  It’s a tool like any other...  a chainsaw will cut down a tree, but will also quickly remove your leg if you use it incorrectly.  Similarly,  mismanaging keys will result in a loss...   that’s not a design fault...  it’s a user error.

I agree with your general tenor though,  that these things are somewhat fraught and can trap the unwary...   hopefully over time the tool aspects will be covered with layers that make the processes easier and more user friendly.  
 

The reason there is large profit to be made is that we are early and hence the chainsaws have few guardrails as yet.

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Thank you, BillyOckham.  You're exactly right.  I'm confusing things as well as wielding the chainsaw one handed with no guards!  I feel like I've gained a bit of ground from this discussion.

In the end I feel like all that is required is some advanced forensics to get into The Wallet on my computer and recover the XRP, forensics I'm unable to provide.  In fact, I will gladly give 15,000 XRP to anyone who can help me retrieve them.  If anyone any thoughts on this, please send me an email to 15kXRPs@protonmail.com.

Thanks again.

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25 minutes ago, Max777 said:

Thank you, BillyOckham.  You're exactly right.  I'm confusing things as well as wielding the chainsaw one handed with no guards!  I feel like I've gained a bit of ground from this discussion.

In the end I feel like all that is required is some advanced forensics to get into The Wallet on my computer and recover the XRP, forensics I'm unable to provide.  In fact, I will gladly give 15,000 XRP to anyone who can help me retrieve them.  If anyone any thoughts on this, please send me an email to 15kXRPs@protonmail.com.

Thanks again.

Long shot but maybe you have it turned on.......

 

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Windows 7 is out of support for years now. Depending on the amounts involved you should immediately cut power to that machine and remove the hard disk. Then create a 1:1 image of the disk, copy that image a second time and only pry around on that second copy. There is some tiny chance that there's still a temporary file or something somewhere on it that Excel for example stored. If you just boot the machine over and over, restart excel and wallet software and whatnot that chance gets smaller and smaller.

Then on the other hand it might just not be worth the efforts and cheaper just to buy again and learn from the experience.

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The event happened around the middle of March and the computer has been restarted around 5 times.  I will immediately follow your advice and image the disk ... just in case.  I will also learn from the experience.  Thank you.

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