Wallet Backup Instructions

Overview

Backing up your Zcash private keys is the best way to be proactive about preventing loss of access to your ZEC.

Problems resulting from bugs in the code, user error, device failure, etc. may lead to losing access to your wallet (and as a result, the private keys of addresses which are required to spend from them).

No matter what the cause of a corrupted or lost wallet could be, we highly recommend all users backup on a regular basis. Anytime a new transparent address or legacy shielded address (zc...) in the wallet is generated, we recommending making a new backup so all private keys for those types of addresses in your wallet are safe.

Sapling shielded addresses (zs...) are natively generated from an HDseed. Export and import of this seed is not fully supported in the RPC yet. Sapling keys can be exported and imported using the options below but will be treated as standard (non-HD) keys.

Note

A backup is a duplicate of data needed to spend ZEC so where you keep your backup(s) is another important consideration. You should not store backups where they would be equally or increasingly susceptible to loss or theft.

Backing up your wallet and/or private keys

These instructions are specific for the officially supported Zcash Linux client. For backing up with third-party wallets, please consult with user guides or support channels provided for those services.

There are multiple ways to make sure you have at least one other copy of the private keys needed to spend your ZEC and view your shielded ZEC.

For all methods, you will need to include an export directory setting in your config file (zcash.conf located in the data directory which is ~/.zcash/ unless it’s been overridden with datadir= setting):

exportdir=path/to/chosen/export/directory

You may choose any directory within the home directory as the location for export & backup files. If the directory doesn’t exist, it will be created.

Note

zcashd will need to be stopped and restarted for edits in the config file to take effect.

Using backupwallet

To create a backup of your wallet, use:

zcash-cli backupwallet <nameofbackup>

The backup will be an exact copy of the current state of your wallet.dat file stored in the export directory you specified in the config file. The file path will also be returned.

If your original wallet.dat file becomes inaccessible for whatever reason, you can use your backup by copying it into your data directory and renaming the copy to wallet.dat.

If you generate new addresses in your wallet after using backupwallet, they will not be reflected in the backup file. Due to the deterministic property of HD wallets, if you generate new Sapling shielded addresses in your wallet after using backupwallet, then restoring that wallet file and calling z_getnewaddress sapling will regenerate keys in the same order that they were created originally. After recreating keys with this method, it is recommended to restart the client using -rescan to force the client to check for prior transactions and properly update the balances of those addresses.

Using z_exportwallet & z_importwallet

If you prefer to have an export of your private keys in human readable format, you can use:

zcash-cli z_exportwallet <nameofbackup>

This will generate a file in the export directory listing all transparent and shielded private keys with their associated public addresses. The file path will be returned in the command line. As of Sapling activation, the shielded private keys in this file will be separated into legacy shielded private keys under the title Zkeys and Sapling shielded private keys.

As of Sapling activation, the export also includes a comment with an HD wallet seed and associated fingerprint, both as hex strings. This seed is only for the wallet’s Sapling shielded keys and addresses. For example:

HDSeed=5fa7753029b99c408e...
fingerprint=5fa7753029b99c408e...

To import keys into a wallet which were previously exported to a file, use:

zcash-cli z_importwallet <path/to/exportdir/nameofbackup>

Note

z_importwallet does not yet support importing HD seeds but will import Sapling addresses in a standard form (non-HD). To backup and restore the full wallet inclusive of the Sapling HD seed, use the instructions for backupwallet above..

Using z_exportkey, z_importkey, dumpprivkey & importprivkey

If you prefer to export a single private key for a shielded address, you can use:

zcash-cli z_exportkey <z-address>

This will return the private key and will not create a new file.

For exporting a single private key for a transparent address, you can use the command inherited from Bitcoin:

zcash-cli dumpprivkey <t-address>

This will return the private key and will not create a new file.

To import a private key for a shielded address, use:

zcash-cli z_importkey <z-priv-key>

This will add the key to your wallet and rescan the wallet for associated transactions if it is not already part of the wallet.

The rescanning process can take a few minutes for a new private key. To skip it, instead use:

zcash-cli z_importkey <z-private-key> no

For other instructions on fine-tuning the wallet rescan, see the command’s help documentation:

zcash-cli help z_importkey

To import a private key for a transparent address, use:

zcash-cli importprivkey <t-priv-key>

This has the same functionality as z_importkey but works with transparent addresses.

See the command’s help documentation for instructions on fine-tuning the wallet rescan:

zcash-cli help importprivkey

Using dumpwallet

This command inherited from Bitcoin is deprecated. It will export private keys in a similar fashion as z_exportwallet but only for transparent addresses. This file will also include a comment with an HD wallet seed and associated fingerprint as described above.