When it comes to getting started in the realm of cryptographic currency, it’s easy to understand why the uninitiated have so many questions. In addition to queries about hardware wallets and security concerns, one of the most frequently asked questions is where exactly an individual’s crypto coins are. This is a perfectly understandable question. To the uninitiated, quantifiable currency such as crypto coins that don’t bear a physical asset to represent them can be a real head-spinner.
It’s not just about grasping the basics of coin storage as a knowledge-builder, either. Anyone looking to seriously prosper from cryptographic endeavors need to feel confident that their assets are an actual commodity that holds wealth and can accrue value through savvy management.
What are Private Keys?
In order to make sense of the answer, one needs to understand the notion of a private key. In short, such private keys can be understood as an analogy to a physical key. Such a key allows for the owner of a cryptocurrency to unlock their coins, thereby accessing the right to spend said currency. As these keys provide essential access to cryptocurrency assets, it’s of paramount importance that such keys remain absolutely private and confidential to the user or entrusted parties.
Understanding Public Keys
Further to private keys, there are also public keys to consider. Private keys and public keys are closely related in a cryptographic sense. Should you hold ownership of a private key, you can use this to recover a public key. However, the same can not be said of the reverse situation. If you have access to a public key, you cannot utilise it in order to recover a private key.
Where Are Your Coins Located?
Grasping the concept of private keys and public keys only goes partway in understanding where your cryptocurrency assets are actually located. Unlike other assets, cryptocurrencies don’t have physical location. Nor are they stored as data in folders. No physical asset exists as a representation of your cryptographic currency. However, this is where the concept of keys comes into play.
A direct correlation between public keys and any associated currency exists. Thanks to the innovation of blockchain technology, your public key is used to ascertain the respective balance of any cryptocurrency asset. To be specific, any associated information is both distributed, as well as replicated, over a vast network of machines. In the case of many cryptocurrencies, such networks can number thousands of individual computers.
Distribution and Replication of Information
Just to reiterate, your coins are never physically located on any individual device. The same applies to hardware wallets. Additionally, your cryptocurrency coins are directly related to public and private key sets.
When it comes to Ledger hardware wallets, the application here is to keep your private keys safely stored and guarded against third parties. Complete ownership rights of both private and public keys is the only way someone can hope to spend any associated cryptographic currency.
As we’ve just mentioned, cryptographic currency is never stored in a hardware wallet. The only storage applications such hardware wallets provide is safeguarded storage of your private keys. This can be a stubborn concept for some to wrap their head around. After all, in the traditional world of paper money and billfold wallets, coins and notes are often tucked away for safekeeping in such items.
Getting to grips with the public/private key concept should help those new to the cryptographic world not only get their heads around how exactly coins are stored easily enough. Once this fundamental principle has been digested and comprehended, user confidence in cryptocurrency as a general concept, as well as any substantial cryptographic ventures, can benefit from a boost.