Are you interested in getting involved with blockchain but not sure where to start? Whether you want to invest in a crypto token that your friend was raving about or wish to bid on your first NFT, a crypto wallet is the key to success. A crypto wallet is where you store your crypto coins and tokens in a secure location so that you can easily track and send them to other people.
This post will walk you through setting up MetaMask, a widely adopted crypto wallet, and review best practices to protect your assets and investments. While there are many wallet services and even wallet types to choose from, MetaMask is considered the number one hot wallet for new users.
Setting Up MetaMask The First Time
First, you will want to download the MetaMask wallet. You can download the wallet as a Google Chrome extension, iPhone app, or Android app. MetaMask does not support logging in and account creation in the traditional sense that you might know from Web2, so for now, pick the platform you’re most comfortable with working on. I chose the mobile app.
Head over to the MetaMask Download page and grab your preferred method. Once installed, it is time to create an account and set up your wallet.
After downloading and installing the application, go ahead and open it to the main screen. Since you’re new to MetaMask, you’ll have the option to import a wallet or create a wallet. Click on the option to create a new wallet and agree to the disclaimer. When prompted to enter a password, it is essential to do the following:
- Pick a strong password that is impossible for anyone to guess. We recommend a password between 10 and 15 characters long with a mix of upper-case letters, lower-case letters, numbers, and a couple of symbols.
- Do not use a password that you have used anywhere else. It does not matter if it is your banking password, email password, home security password, etc. It should be 100% unique. Write your password down on paper and put it in a safe or somewhere else that no one can find it. Do not label what it is for, as you should be the only one who needs to know. Now, please write it down again and store it somewhere else. Go ahead and write it down a third time and pick another safe place.
The important thing is to have a genuinely unique password that no one can guess and no one will understand what it is if they read your little piece of paper and to ensure you never lose it. Some people will use a cloud password keeper, such as LastPass, but I do not advise you do this. I keep a copy in my safe, one in my safe deposit at the bank, and a copy in my KeePass database. My KeePass is the only digital version, but I store the database on an external hard drive with both a Private Key and an equally complex password.
The security of your assets from loss or theft is enabled by private key cryptography. If you lose your private key, there are no other copies that will be able to recover what you have lost: it’s really like losing the only key in the world for your bank account. There is no replicating it, no way to recover it, and everything in your vault will always be there but might as well be gone forever.
With the Secret Recovery Phrase, MetaMask gives you 12 different words that you can use to recover your wallet. It is a skeleton key to accessing your wallet should you ever lose your private key. Here are all of the ways I store my phrases, and, before you ask, I use all of these methods at once because it’s so vital for me not to lose them.
- Copy it down on paper and put it in a bank safe deposit box.
- Copy it down on paper and put it in an at-home safe.
- Find a piece of metal and someone who can inscribe the words, in proper order, into the metal. Watch them the entire time to ensure they do not make a copy or do it yourself if you’re comfortable with welding tools. The goal is to give you a way to hide this in your house in a format that will not be destroyed should your home catch fire. I’ve hidden mine in a location that also dramatically decreases the chances that a tornado, common in my area, will carry it off.
As a rule, you have to enter your recovery phrase in the order you see it. If you mess up and type the phrase in the wrong order, it will mean that you won’t be able to access your wallet.
Once you’ve finished setting up your MetaMask wallet on this device, your wallet is configured and ready to be used. You can now download the MetaMask app on other devices and import this device’s wallet to those devices by following the Import a Wallet option.