Zeus is a secure way to create backups of your Bitcoin (BTC) or hardware wallet seed words.
Normally, when you setup a Bitcoin (BTC) hardware wallet, you are directed to write down a 12 or 24 word backup ‘seed’. These words can be used to recreate and restore your crypto wallet in case your hardware wallet is lost, stolen or damaged.
The Zeus is made from titanium and has laser etched details. The user uses a punch pen to stamp boxes on the chassis that correspond to a number (which corresponds to a letter of their seed phrase).
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Recovery seeds written on paper are the most common way of storing your money offline. In fact, most hardware wallets come with a piece of paper that they direct you to write your seed phrase down on.
For instance, the Ledger hardware wallet comes with a paper like the one shown below:
What this paper doesn’t protect against are natural events like house fires or floods.
Such an event could easily destroy your paper backup, even if it’s stored inside a safe.
Ink tends to fade over time, leaving you with an unreadable mess of ink.
A piece of paper also happens to look quite ordinary which is a problem if someone cleans out your desk or mistakes it for a piece of trash.
One guy even had his seed thrown away by accident by his cleaning staff(1).
We ran our own heat test on the Cryptotag Zeus, and it survived a decently hot fire.
We let a propane BBQ pit warm up to 750 Fahrenheit (399 Celsius).
Once it got as hot as possible, we set the Zeus down over the flame for about 20 minutes.
This is what it looked like after we pulled it off the fire and let it cool.
NOTE: an average house fire tends to be about 600 degrees Fahrenheit at eye-level (2), but even hotter at the roof (3). I cannot test fires at roof temperatures, so you will need to refer to manufacturer tests for that data.
As you can see, the backup survived and it is readable for us to easily recover our crypto from it.
We feel that anyone with significant amount of crypto assets who is relying on paper seeds as backups should consider a Zeus.
In most cases, this will be hardware wallet owners of the Ledger Nano S, Nano X, TREZOR Model T, TREZOR One or KeepKey.
Having a multiple backup strategy for $80 to $160 is a rather cheap insurance policy against many potential threats that paper backup seeds introduce.
You never know when misfortune will strike and there is no reason to be unprepared when the risk can be easily eliminated.
The price of a Zeus was recently lowered. It is currently the cheapest steel tile design backup device for 24 words at $99 with free shipping in the USA.
Customers from outside the USA get free shipping when ordering two or more devices.
When you first get your hands on your Zeus box, you’ll note it is quite heavy.
Not shown are the foam earplugs which are worn when stamping the unit (it can be a bit loud).
The instructional booklet includes a copy of the BIP39 word-list as well as each word’s corresponding number so that you can easily write down the proper number for each word.
The idea here is to find each of your words and write down the 4 digit number for it.
Once you have done this all 24 times, you punch that number into the titanium chassis using the provided punch pin.
Punching the dents into the Zeus is very fast and easy compared to other backup products on the market which is a major plus.
That said, this ease comes at a cost, which we will cover a bit more in the next section.
It is very easy to make a mistake when setting up your Zeus.
I did it here when I didn’t perfectly line up my punch pen.
This is not a huge deal…if you only mess up once.
However, if you were to make several of these mistakes, it could become a problem for you at recovery.
Mistakes are also more costly with a product like the Zeus than they are with other backups products because you cannot undo them. Every dent you make is permanent (by design), so if you make a mistake, you either need to accept it or pay for another Zeus.
Also, if you lose the Zeus, you’ll still need either another copy of your seed phrase or the hardware wallet itself.
So it may be worthwhile to have some backups on paper, some extra Zeus backups, and your hardware wallet.
Finally, the Zeus does not protect against individuals who find your Zeus and take the seed. If someone has your seed, they can take your coins, and the Zeus cannot stop this.
This goes for any steel wallet, and not just Cryptotag Zeus.
Review by: Jordan Tuwiner
The Zeus was very easy to set up and punch. It’s titanium casing also makes it a very strong backup candidate.
The punches can be hard to read, which makes recovery from it more difficult. It is also easy to make mistakes during punching.
Read our detailed comparison of the two wallets.
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