“My ADA are gone!” First Aid Collection

I have the impression that we repeat the same things to a lot of the “My ADA are gone!” posts. So, this is a collection of things that we explain often.

I’m going to make this post a wiki. If you have anything to add or improve, please do so! (Also see To Do at end of post.)

tl;dr

  1. Check your addresses on cardanoscan.io.
  2. Resync the wallet.
  3. Try to restore with your seed phrase on another device, in another browser, in another browser profile.
  4. Try another wallet app – adalite.io, ccvault.io, ….
  5. Remove your wallet (app) and reinstall and restore (only if you are sure that seed phrase works because of 3. and/or 4.).

The ADA are not in the Wallet App

Cardano is a blockchain that records transactions from addresses to other addresses. When you have the private key to an address that has received some ADA (and perhaps other tokens), you can sign and authorise them to be sent further to other addresses.

A seed phrase (or a hardware wallet) can be used to generate a lot of these private keys for a lot of addresses from one single secret. These addresses together make up a wallet. The transactions and the current balance are found on the (public) blockchain and the seed or hardware wallet control the access to spending the funds in them.

This secret – your seed phrase or your hardware wallet – is the thing you absolutely need to keep safe and secure!

Wallet apps – Daedalus, Yoroi, ccvault, Adalite, Nami, … – are just tools to access the blockchain using your secret. They can (with some restrictions, see below) be used at the same time. You can switch from one to the other without transferring ADA, just by restoring/importing/connecting your secret to the new one. As long as your secret is safe and secure, it doesn’t matter that much if their installation gets broken, removed, or unusable. You can always use another one or the same one freshly installed or on another device.

To use a wallet app, you have to trust it enough to give it your secret. So, you should always double check if you are getting it from a trusted source (if it is installed on your computer, in your browser, on your phone) or if you are accessing the correct website (if it is a web-based wallet). This is less of a problem for hardware wallets, because they never give away the private keys, but just sign transactions and ask you in detail before that.

Blockchain Explorers

The first thing to check, when your wallet app does something strange, is, if it is really happening on the blockchain or just a glitch in your specific wallet app. To do that, you can use a blockchain explorer. explorer.cardano.org is the “official” one, but cardanoscan.io is the most used one (despite the annoying ads).

You need any address from your wallet to check its state on Cardanoscan. You can also search a transaction ID that you know and navigate from there to the address that belongs to your wallet (that sends/receives the right amount to/from this transaction).

If you check an address on Cardanoscan, you will get an output like this:


The first block is for the specific address. There can very well be a balance of zero and it’s nothing dramatic, because the funds may have just been moved to other addresses of the same wallet by further transactions. What’s important is the second block – “Controlled Stake Key”: There the “Controlled Total Stake” should match the balance of your wallet and “Delegated To” should be the stake pool you are currently delegating to. (If you are not delegating, Cardanoscan will say “Not Active” as “Status” in red. That does not mean that something is wrong.)

Details: How does it know, what belongs to the same wallet?

All wallet apps encode the stake key of the wallet into all addresses that are generated (even if you are not staking/delegating, now). That makes sense, because if you decide to start staking, you want all your existing ADA to be staked at once without having to move them to a staked address for that.

So, Cardanoscan can decode the stake key out of the address and knows, which addresses belong together to the same stake key, the same wallet.

Technically, it is possible to have addresses without a stake key. They are much shorter (they contain less information) and are often used, when operating a stake pool or minting tokens. For these addresses, Cardanoscan cannot determine if they belong to something we could call a “wallet”.

You can click around in Cardanoscan to view other addresses of your wallet (“View All Addresses” in the “Controlled Stake Key” block), details of transactions, …

Resyncing and Restoring Wallet Apps

If everything looks okay on Cardanoscan, but not in your wallet app, there can be several causes.

Wallet apps often have more or less temporary issues synchronising to the blockchain. That is most often not a problem of the Cardano network as a whole, but of the specific nodes that the specific wallet app uses. They often have an option for resyncing to the chain somewhere in their settings. You can try that from time to time. Or you can try using the wallet app on another device, in another browser, or in another browser profile.

Before you try to remove and reinstall a wallet app, you should make sure that you have the secret (seed phrase or hardware wallet) that you need to get access to your wallet. Try to restore on another device, in another browser, in another browser profile, or in another wallet app.

If you use Nami: Nami only uses the first address of your wallet, while all other apps use a lot of addresses. So, using another app on the same wallet could have moved away funds from where Nami could see them.

If you use ccvault, Adalite, or Nami: These wallets can manage multiple accounts (with separate balances and staked to different pools) in the same wallet. If you have used that, you see only the first account (which has the number 0) after restoring and have to add the others again. If you use such a wallet in Daedalus or Yoroi, they will always only see and use the first account 0.

If you see an empty wallet with no transactions (and it is not just a synchronisation issue of the wallet app, happens for a long time, is the same in all wallet apps), you most likely have the wrong seed phrase. Yes, even if you do not remember that you ever had another seed phrase, please think again, look in old notes, or in the history of your screenshots or photos (although you should never screenshot or photograph your seed phrase!).

If you use a hardware wallet, a frequent cause for empty wallets after restoring are passphrases: Ledger as well as Trezor allow to have a passphrase in addition to your mnemonic seed phrase. And every passphrase opens a whole new wallet. There is no “wrong passphrase” indication if you make a small typo. Look if that functionality is enabled, try to remember if it ever was enabled. Especially for Trezor, which gets the passphrase through a dialog on the computer, it is possible that you accidentally used it, because you thought it wanted your spending or some other password.

Using Another Wallet App

If your wallet app keeps being unusable or hard to use even on other devices, in other browsers, after reinstalling, you can always switch to another wallet app. But you have to trust that other app enough for that. If you have a hardware wallet it’s not that dramatic. Wallet apps cannot do much to circumvent you having to authorise every single transaction on the hardware device. For seed phrases, you have to decide carefully.

Most people in this forum deem the following wallet apps trustworthy enough:

  • Daedalus: From IOHK, the company that started Cardano, so one of the most trustworthy sources. You, of course, have to check if the download really comes from them. And there have also been fake mobile “Daedalus” apps in the past. The application is huge, it runs a full Cardano node on your computer and uses several gigabyte of disk space and a lot of RAM and CPU and also quite some network bandwidth for it.
  • Yoroi: From EMURGO, also one of the founding companies of Cardano. There are browser plugins for Firefox and the Chrome/Chromium family of browsers and mobile apps for iOS and Android. Probably, the most used (and, therefore, also most attacked) wallet app in the Cardano world.
  • ccvault.io: From Tastenkunst GmbH, a company in Leipzig, Germany. There is an extension for the Chrome/Chromium family of browsers, but the web-based version also works in Firefox and probably others, and there is an app for iOS. ccvault has a very complete feature set from, e.g., multiple accounts to viewing the metadata of tokens. It remembers the configured wallets in your browser’s storage. It also has a dApp connector.
  • adalite.io: From Vacuumlabs, a company in Bratislava, Slovakia. Purely web-based wallet app. And very uniquely, it does not remember wallets, but you have to give the seed (or connect the hardware wallet) every time you start using it, which can be an advantage (no records on your machine of that wallet even existing, no data to grab by malware once you log out, especially handy if you want to quickly check if seed phrase or hardware wallet work), but also a disadvantage (having to keep the seed around at all times).
  • Nami: From the operator of BERRY stake pool, Munich, Germany. Targeted at users interested in NFTs and dApps around them. It is the first wallet app that implements a connector to dApps. In contrast to the other wallet apps, it just uses one of the addresses (but it tells you if there are funds in the other addresses). ccvault has a compatibility mode to also only use this first address.

All of them can do the basic things. All of them can use the 15 or 24 word seed phrases of Yoroi and Daedalus and create one or both of these lengths themselves. All of them can connect to Ledger and Trezor hardware wallets. Multiple accounts in the same wallet are supported by ccvault, Adalite and Nami.

Even if a lot of people here think that it’s reasonably safe to use the web-based wallets of ccvault and Adalite, please remember to never give your seed phrase to arbitrary websites out there. There are a lot of scams, look-alikes, fakes. In that regard, web-based wallet apps may accustom to risky behaviour.

Real Losses

If you see your ADA leaving your wallet in a transaction in your wallet app and/or on Cardanoscan and you did not authorise it, then it is unfortunately quite possible that you really are a victim of a scam or a malware.

You can double check if you are just reading something wrong – it’s not really leaving your wallet, but the change is coming back to another address that is also in your wallet – or if you just forgot that you moved to another wallet, ….

But if it’s a scam/hack/malware, there’s not much, you, the people on this forum, or even the people operating wallet apps, stake pools, and nodes can do about that. You can try to figure out, how exactly it was done, just to know it or to warn other people about the method. You can report to your local authorities (but it’s very unclear if they can achieve something).

Also, if you really do not find the seed phrase or cannot restore your hardware wallet, there is also nothing anybody can do to get the funds protected by that secret back.

Ask for Help

This post is totally not to discourage asking for help in the forums. They are a quite friendly place and there’s always someone there happy to help!

But if you have gone through the pointers in this post and checked everything: Give us a little more info, what you have tried and what were the results. If you are comfortable with it, give us a link to Cardanoscan or a screenshot of what you are seeing. Tell us, which wallet apps you have been and are currently using. …

Having more information will make the answers better sooner. And spare us (and you) some standard questions.

This topic should only be used for discussions on the improvement of this post. If you have a concrete problem, open a new post in #english:communitytechnicalsupport.

To Do

  • I’m probably missing some of the wallet apps in the “Using Another Wallet App” section.
  • Could someone confirm that in all web-based and extension wallet apps, the seed and the keys derived from it never leave the computer, but are stored locally, even though it’s a website? Would be good to assure people of that (and catastrophic if it were not true).
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Thanks for the detail

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