Google shows tens of thousands of results for the query “lost myetherwallet password”. While not all of those results represent a person that has lost access to their Ethereum or tokens, many do. In this article we’re going to lay out a process for recovering access to your wallet. This process won’t work 100% of the time, but at the least you’ll know that you have exhausted all possibilities.
An Introduction to MyEtherWallet
First, let’s just talk briefly about MyEtherWallet.com (MEW). Although you can access the site over the web, it is not an online wallet. That is, you are not creating an account on MyEtherWallet.com — you are simply using tools published by MEW to create and manage a private key, so that you can interact with the Ethereum blockchain.
One implication of this is that your private key is not stored by MyEtherWallet.com, and there’s no account on that website that you can log into, and no set of customer support folks that can change your password to your private key if you lose it.
The Simplest Way to Recover your Wallet
If you saved your 12 word mnemonic phrase when you created your MEW wallet, you can recover the wallet at any point by using that phrase.
Go to MyEtherWallet.com
Click “Send Ether & Tokens” in the toolbar at the top
Select “Mnemonic Phrase” as the answer to the question: How would you like to access your wallet?
Enter your 12 word phrase
However, if you have gone through the trouble of finding this article it is unlikely that you have your 12 word recovery phrase available. So, let’s pull together the resources you need to recover your wallet without the recovery phrase.
Find your Keystore File
The first step in recovering access to your wallet is to locate your Keystore file. The Keystore file is essentially a copy of your Ethereum private key that has been encrypted with the password that you chose when you created a new wallet using MEW.
After you created that wallet, MEW encouraged you to download your Keystore file and save it to a safe location.
The Keystore file is written in a format known as JSON, and so you’ll occasionally see people refer to this as their MEW JSON file.
By default, MEW uses the following naming conventions for the Keystore file:
UTC–YYYY-MM-DDTHH-MM-SS.[46 character string]
Here’s an example of a Keystore file that was created on Feb 9, 2018:
A JSON file is just a human- and machine-readable text file that contains a series of keys and values. Here’s an example of the data stored within the Keystore file:
Generally speaking, you should be able to locate Keystore files on your hard drive by searching for filenames that begin with “UTC-“.
If you find one Keystore file, and the dates in the filename match the timeframe when you created your wallet, you’ve probably found the file you’re looking for. Congratulations! You’re ready to move on to figuring out your password.
If you find multiple Keystore files, you can use the process mentioned below to weed out the files whose password you know, leaving you with the Keystore file whose password you don’t know.
If you don’t find any Keystore files, there are a couple of possibilities:
Did you use a different computer to create your MEW wallet? If so your Keystore file may be stored on that computer.
Might you have an automated backup that might include your Keystore file?
How to Find the Correct Password
Now that you have located your Keystore file you can begin to test passwords against it.
The first step is to create a list of passwords that you think might be the right password.
Many people keep their cryptocurrency passwords under lock and key. Check your safe (if you have one) and see if you have your password written down.
You may have just a few passwords that you use for everything. While this is not optimal for security, it may make the process of finding your wallet password simple.
You may want to look at your password manager, whether it is the one integrated into your web browser or a 3rd party password manager, like LastPass.com.
No matter how and where you store your passwords, pull together your best guesses as to the password you might have used.
How to Check a Password Against your Keystore File
Note: MyEtherWallet.com does not need to be connected to the internet to test passwords against a Keystore file. All of the functionality occurs within your browser. So, in just a minute we’re going to recommend that you disconnect wifi (and/or your network cable) so that it’s harder for anyone to snoop on your password attempts.
Open your web browser and go to: MyEtherWallet.com
Click “Send Ether & Tokens”
Select “Keystore / JSON File” as the answer to the question: How would you like to access your wallet?
Use the “Select Wallet File” button to navigate and load your Keystore file
MEW will now display a message that says: “Your wallet is encrypted. Good! Please enter the password.”
Disconnect your wifi or wired connection to the internet at this time to improve your security.
Enter your first password guess and click the “Unlock” button.
If you see a message that says: “(error_07) Please enter a valid password. Error: Key derivation failed – possibly wrong passphrase” then you’ll know that this password guess is not correct. Go back to the first step and repeat with your next password guess.
If you have the right password you’ll be taken to a page that allows you to enter a receiving address for the cryptocurrency you want to send. This is the correct password!
If you try all your password guesses and you have not found the correct password, don’t despair. Now is when you start trying different combinations, mis-spellings, typos, etc.