Recovery Tools

The Recovery Tools help you import accounts from other wallet apps. They require some knowledge of the key derivation mechanism.

Here is a brief recap on the topic.

Transparent Wallet

Let's consider a typical Zcash transparent wallet. It supports multiple currencies, all under the same seed phrase.

Derivation Path

From a given seed phrase, you can derive lots of keys using a set of rules and a "path".

A path looks like a directory path except that each component is an integer.

Knowing the seed phrase and the path, the wallet applies the derivation rules and computes a key pair. Since the derivation path is also standardized, the seed phrase is usually enough information for restoring an account.

But things are not so simple...

Transparent wallets will use more than one key pair (i.e. one address). Due to their lack of privacy, it is standard practice since the early days of Bitcoin, to avoid reusing an address.

The wallet would generate many key pairs and aggregate the funds received on any of these addresses into the account balance.

Address Index

This is achieved by using a derivation path that has the last component be the "address index". Your wallet keeps track of the current address index and increments it whenever you need a new address.

However, when you restore your seed phrase on a new device, there is a problem. How does it know what indices where used?

It does not. It has to scan addresses (which is not the same thing as scanning blocks).

It will derive the first address (at index 0) and check whether it has transactions. If it does, the wallet increments the address index and tries with the second address (at index 1), and so on so forth until it starts getting addresses with no transactions.

At that point, the wallet considers how many consecutive addresses do not have any transaction. It will not stop at the first one because you may have unused addresses. But if there is a large gap (let's say 40), then it is likely the end of the used addresses.

A transparent wallet can execute this scan quickly because checking whether an address has transactions is fast. The server has prepared a database with all the active addresses.

If you have a transparent wallet that you want to bring into Ywallet, use Sweep Funds

Shielded Wallet

Now, let consider a shielded wallet like ZecWallet Lite.

ZWL extends the same functionality to shielded addresses. You can request a new shielded address at any time and the wallet keeps a current address index for transparent addresses and another for shielded addresses.

But the huge difference with transparent addresses is that checking whether an address has transactions is VERY time consuming. Essentially, the wallet has to trial decrypt every address independently, because they have different keys (unlike diversified addresses).

When the blockchain was small, scanning multiple shielded addresses was hardly an issue.

But when the blockchain grew by 100 times (due to some heavy spamming), it was a serious challenge to scan even a single address.

Therefore having a wallet automatically recover the address index for a shielded wallet is practically impossible.

Ywallet does not make it easy to create new addresses like ZWL. There is no button to "Add a new shielded address".

But if you need to recover an account from ZWL that has multiple shielded addresses, you can but you need to find the address indices yourself.

In early 2024, there are already ~70 million notes to try to decrypt. If you have 10 shielded addresses, that makes it 700 million trial decryptions. An average phone can perform around 10 000 decryptions per second.

If you have a shielded account that has multiple addresses, use the Key Derivation Tool

Recovery from Private Keys

If you have the private keys, things are much easier.

There are only two kinds of Zcash keys:

  • Transparent private keys. They begin with K or L. Use Sweep Funds
  • Sapling private keys. They begin with secret-extended-key-main. Import the key as a new account. Then rescan as indicated