Paper backup of all keys

Pete Stephenson pete at
Sat Feb 4 08:40:46 CET 2017

On Feb 4, 2017 04:33, "Daniel Kahn Gillmor" <dkg at> wrote:

On Fri 2017-02-03 18:28:03 -0500, MyCraigs List wrote:
> Also, let's say the key associated with the email address (not a paper
> backup) gets corrupted or I delete it or render the key unuseable- can
> the paper backup of the key be used to type the key back in?

Sure, but it would likely be a pain to type the whole thing in.

You might be interested in the "paperkey" tool, written by David Shaw,
which does a good job at minimizing the typing you'll need to do
(assuming that all of the public parts of the certificate itself can be
recovered from the keyservers or your correspondents).

If you use debian or a debian derivative, just use "apt install

Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but paperkey only seems to produce
reasonably small output for DSA keys. RSA keys are still enormous.

I've had pretty good luck with something like Paperback: -- it backs up arbitrary data to
printable 2D barcodes with error correction. Simply scan the paperback
it'll reconstruct the original file.

Thus one can direct backup and restore the exported private key file
without too much trouble.

I thought there was a *nix version, but I may be in error.

Alternatively, one could have a shell script generate a QR code for each
line of the exported private key file, then print the resulting files 10 to
a page. I did this and, while annoying, it's not hideously inconvenient to
restore the QR codes using nothing more than a webcam.

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