12 min read

Metal Bitcoin Seed Storage Stress Test (Round V)

Jameson stress tests a dozen new seed backup devices.
Metal Bitcoin Seed Storage Stress Test (Round V)

Note: This is a recurring series; here you can read the full results of the entire series here.

The Contenders

Bitplates Domino

BitPLATES® Marine-grade range of Domino® are made from 316L stainless steel, not just 316 stainless steel, because 316L has a lower carbon content, which provides an even greater level of intergranular corrosion-resistance under saltwater conditions; especially important, following the stress of surface deformation caused by multiple dots indented onto the surface of the metal.

Bitplates claims a melting point up to 1399 °C or 2550 °F

Bitplates Domino Grande

Same marine grade steel as the regular size Bitplate.

Black Seed Ink

Black Seed Ink's web site lists the following characteristics for their product:

  • .8mm thick 304 grade stainless steel
  • Matte black finish - protection against rust and corrosion
  • Raised steel guidelines - easy etching
  • Etching tool - tungsten carbide fine tip and knurled grip
  • Canadian manufactured Chicago screws plus nylon washers

CodlKeys S

CodlKeys doesn't have their web site live yet, so there are no marketing materials or claims that are publicly available.

DIY Bulletproof Bitcoin

These are templates and instructions for ordering metal plates that you can secure together with bolts and nuts. No claims as to durability.

DIY Steel Wallet

Another DIY project; this one is unique in that it includes 3D printable templates for enclosures and tamper evident locks. It doesn't make any durability claims.

Hodlinox

This is the third Hodlinox product I've tested. This is basically the second iteration of the first dual-plate product I tested several years ago. The main difference is that this generation has interlocking plates on both ends.

  • Material: stainless steel 316.
  • Melting point: 1460 ℃ / 2642 ℉.

HODLRock rock96

Pretty sure this is the first Indian manufactured produce I've tested. HODLRock makes the following claims:

  • Fire Resistant - rock96 is rated to sustain exposure at 1093°C
  • Load & Stress Resistant - 200 KN of load without observing relevant damages
  • Corrosion Resistant - to ensure integrity of rock96 in event of floods or Tsunami, a rigorous corrosion test was performed for 72 hours.

HODLR Swiss

They make the following claims:

• 100% Marine Grade Stainless Steel
• Fireproof up to 1,350 °C (2,460 °F)
• Waterproof, Shockproof

Keystone Tablet Plus

The successor of the Cobo Tablet I tested last year - that product didn't do well. Keystone Tablet Plus is redesigned with a slot for each letter tile, as opposed to a slot for every four. It has 13 screws on each side to better hold all the letter tiles, as opposed to 3 screws on each side for Keystone Tablet.

Keystone makes the following claims:

  • Fireproof threshold of 1399 to 1455°C / 2550 to 2651°F
  • Composed entirely of 304-grade stainless steel. Keystone Tablet Plus is waterproof and resistant to various types of corrosion.

Keystone Tablet Punch

Makes the following claims:

  • Fireproof threshold of 1399 to 1455°C / 2550 to 2651°F
  • Composed entirely of 304-grade stainless steel.
  • Waterproof and resistant to various types of corrosion.

Quadrat Register 11

This is a new product from the company that produced one of the best performing devices to date; the Quadrat Register P. The P version was more complex with a lot of loose parts while this version is a much simpler "sandwich." They don't make durability claims but my expectations are high.

SmallSeed

SmallSeed makes the following claims:

  • Water-proof
  • Fire-proof
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Hacker-proof

It looks like they have already performed extensive stress tests that you can watch here, thus my expectations are high.

Device Setup / Assembly

Bitplates Domino

If you've read my previous tests you'll recall that I find center punch style storage to be far easier to set up than letter stamping or engraving. The domino is novel in that it's more compact than other plates that use one square per letter. It's pretty easy to encode 2 letters per square via a "1 dot" and "2 dots" system. Since I just coded the plate with "HODL HODL HODL..." I ended up having 3 dots in every square I used.

Bitplates Domino Grande

The Grande uses the same system, it's just a larger plate that has the alphabet template on the plate. It only takes a few minutes to set up. Unfortunately it looks like I neglected to take a photo right after punching my plate.

Black Seed Ink

This device comes with an etching pen; on one side I did some really deep etches while on the other side I made some lighter etches. I'd rate this as easier to set up than stamping or etching with a dremel, though I still prefer center punching.

CodlKeys S

This is another novel variant on center punched plates. To condense the data per square inch, each square is divided into triangles. It works quite well!

DIY Bulletproof Bitcoin

These plates arrived with a bunch of pre-stamped words; I hand stamped one and dremel etched some as well. The pre-stamped words are really well done.

DIY Steel Wallet

I tried both stamping and dremel etching on the titanium and the steel plates. Etching seems to be the way to go.

Hodlinox

I dremel etched a couple words because this product is designed for engraving rather than stamping. Looks like I forgot to take a photo of it open after engraving.

HODLRock rock96

Straightforward center punch set up only takes a few minutes.

HODLR Swiss

This center punch takes some getting used to because instead of putting divots in empty squares you're punching them on top of raised letters. At a glance it's not as easy to tell what letters are encoded.

Keystone Tablet Plus

Tile based systems like this are very convenient to set up, though fiddling with all the tiny screws can be a bit annoying.

Keystone Tablet Punch

Very easy to set up.

Quadrat Register 11

This device has a novel encoding system. Novelty can be bad; if you're trying to recover data and don't know how to decode it, you're gonna have a bad time. I ran it by a Bitcoiner who is less technical and they were not a fan.

Actually setting up the device is a bit trickier than a center punch; qreq provides a tool to punch out the squares from the plate. Once you get the hang of it, it takes 5 to 10 seconds per square.

SmallSeed

Super straightforward center punch setup process.

Heat Tests

I applied ~2000°F heat for 10 minutes. Then the device was submerged in a bucket of water to simulate a firefighter putting out a structure fire.

Bitplates Domino

No data loss.

Bitplates Domino Grande

No data loss.

Black Seed Ink

No data loss. I did note that the nylon washers burned off. I asked the manufacturer about this and was told they use nylon to ensure the screws do not solder into the plates under extreme heat conditions.

Codlkeys S

No data loss.

DIY Bulletproof Bitcoin

No data loss.

DIY Steel Wallet

This photo isn't great, but there was no data loss.

Hodlinox

No data loss.

HODLRock rock96

It was a bit annoying to open this device as the heat had deformed it and I couldn't unscrew all of the bolts. I ended up having to clamp the plates together in order to relieve enough pressure to unscrew them.

Once I opened the device, it was clear there was no data loss.

HODLR Swiss

No data loss.

Keystone Tablet Plus

Unfortunately, the additional screws that have been added to this device still don't seem to be enough to prevent the slots from expanding and thus losing tiles. I have to consider this to be catastrophic data loss.

Keystone Tablet Punch

The divots are still legible, though there's a concerning amount of "noise" appearing on the plates.

Quadrat Register 11

I had a really hard time reopening this device. In fact, the supplied wrench sheared off and I had to go find a sturdier wrench with a security star head. Some commenters have said this could be a result of using titanium screws in titanium plates. "Titanium galls with itself and steel fasteners will galvanically corrode over time if mixed with Ti. It's a dilemma."

That said, once I got the device open it was in pristine condition.

SmallSeed

No data loss.

Corrosion Tests

I submerge the devices in muriatic acid for hours and them pull them out once the bubbling stops.

Bitplates Domino

No data loss.

Bitplates Domino Grande

No data loss.

Black Seed Ink

The lighter etched words are getting pretty faint but are still legible at the right angle.

Codlkeys S

No data loss.

DIY Bulletproof Bitcoin

No data loss.

DIY Steel Wallet

No data loss.

Hodlinox

No data loss.

HODLRock rock96

No data loss.

HODLR Swiss

No data loss.

Keystone Tablet Plus

No additional data loss than seen after the heat test.

Keystone Tablet Punch

This test was rough on the Keystone Tablet Punch. Most of the lines, letters, and numbers disappeared. Even worse, there is so much noise now that it is very difficult to tell which spots on the plate are the real ones for the seed data. It would be extremely challenging to recover this data.

Quadrat Register 11

No data loss.

SmallSeed

While the legibility of the letters and numbers has dissapeared, you can reconstruct the seed by counting the rows and columns out. No data loss.

Crush Tests

I use a 20 ton hydraulic press to deform the devices and simulate something like a large building collapsing on top of the device.

Bitplates Domino

No data loss.

Bitplates Domino Grande

No data loss.

Black Seed Ink

On the verge of data loss for the lighter etchings, but you can still make out the words.

Codlkeys S

No data loss.

DIY Bulletproof Bitcoin

No data loss.

DIY Steel Wallet

No data loss.

Hodlinox

Due to the nature of the interlocking plates, when you warp the device and crush it... the plates becomes inseparable. So I had to warp them back in the other direction to open it.

Upon inspection we can see that no data was lost.

HODLRock rock96

Warping can also make it pretty tough to actually unscrew the bolts.

Opening the device shows no data loss.

HODLR Swiss

My hydraulic press was unable to visibly deform the HODLR Swiss. Unfortunately, my crush test managed to completely lock up this device. It's no longer possible for me to rotate the disks in order to unscrew the outer ring. I'm 100% confident that the data inside is still intact, but I don't have the tools necessary to access it.

Keystone Tablet Plus

Most tile based devices tend to let all the tiles fall out when you warp the device. Surprisingly, this did not happen with the Keystone Tablet Plus. It looks like the additional screws come in handy after all.

Keystone Tablet Punch

The crushing itself caused no data loss, though you can see that after leaving the plates outside for a few weeks, the corrosion worsened significantly.

Quadrat Register 11

Similar to the original Quadrat Register cylinder, my press was unable to visibly deform this device. No data loss.

SmallSeed

No data loss.

Scores

Remember that these aren't highly scientific experiments and my grading system is arbitrary - my goal is to get a sense of which devices are the most robust relative to the rest of the market. If I'm unable to cause any data loss then a device should get an "A" rating, while a device that suffers catastrophic data loss gets an "F" - anything in between is a grey area.

Final Thoughts

In terms of sheer durability, out of this group I'd choose the Quadrat Register 11. It's just a shame I'm not a fan of the novel encoding scheme.

The Hodlr Swiss is the most aesthetically pleasing of the group and also insanely durable, but I feel the need to ding it slightly, as I did previously with the Cryptosteel Capsule, because I'm unable to actually access the data without high powered tools to disassemble the device.