How to Find and Save Access Codes for Account Recovery

Losing (or breaking) your phone is never fun. Yes, there are complications that come with being covered in fragile glass , but the problem that will ultimately make you even more grief-stricken is this: your phone is the key to your online identity. If you use two-factor authentication on your devices, you can rely on an authentication app or SMS text messages providing randomly generated passcodes used to verify your identity when you sign in to another device or make a purchase. For added security, you should keep a physical copy of your account recovery codes, a set of two-factor authentication codes that you can always use in case you cannot access the time-sensitive codes generated on your phone. Think of it as a new document to be stored next to your birth certificate and social security number, which will allow you to control your account regardless of the state of your devices.

How to get backup codes


Visit your Microsoft account page and go to the Security tab at the top. From there, you can change your password, add alternate email addresses and phone numbers for account recovery, and monitor your account activity. Under these parameters, you will find a link to advanced security settings, which hides some good good information about two-factor authentication.

From there, you can set up two-factor authentication either with SMS (not recommended due to potential security flaws in SMS ) or with an authentication app (which generates a new set of passwords every few minutes). Click Replace Recovery Code and save the new code, which will automatically replace any old recovery code you had.


When you enable two-factor authentication for your Apple ID account, Apple gives you the option to create a recovery code. You should grab the prompt and generate a recovery code, both for security purposes and because losing it could permanently block your access to your Apple ID account. It’s pretty easy to generate a recovery key on your iOS or macOS device . Here are instructions from Apple:

  1. Go to Settings> [your name]> Password & Security. You may need to enter your Apple ID password.
  2. Tap Recovery Key.
  3. Slide to enable recovery key.
  4. Click “Use Recovery Key” and enter your device password .
  5. Write down your recovery key and keep it in a safe place.
  6. Confirm your recovery key by entering it on the next screen.

You can also get the recovery code using your Mac:

  1. Go to System Preferences> iCloud> Account Information. You may need to enter your Apple ID password.
  2. Click Security.
  3. In the “Recovery Key” section, click “Enable”.
  4. Click Use Recovery Key.
  5. Write down your recovery key and keep it in a safe place.
  6. Click Continue.
  7. Confirm your recovery key by entering it on the next screen.


Visit the page of his Google account and click the “Login and security.” In the “Sign in to Google” section, select “Two-Step Verification”. Sign in again and get ready to see all the ways you can hide prying eyes from your Google account. You will see “Backup Codes” among the options for setting up two-factor authentication using SMS or an authentication app.

Google gives you the option to download or print 10 recovery codes or generate new ones (making your previous recovery codes inert). You can only use each recovery code once, so be sure to cross it out or delete it after you regain access to your account. At least you have nine more.

Print them out, keep them safe

There is a reason why you should have a paper copy of your two-factor password, whether printed or written by you. This is a last resort for getting back to your account, and losing it when you need it could be eternal death for whatever service you try to access.

As far as storage is concerned, you should take extra care when storing recovery codes. Newbie folders. If you are trying to keep your recovery passwords safe, you should put them somewhere safe. I’m talking about a safe “safe with an extra passport, birth certificate and some Krugerrands.” Or at least under the mattress.

Also store them digitally

In addition to printing out the two-factor codes sheet, you must store them digitally (although this should not be your only way to access your recovery code). Just paste them into a text file, transfer them to an encrypted flash drive ( here’s how ) and attach them to the rest of your confidential information (or, if you are me, open your PC case and put the disk inside).

Put them in a password manager

Even if you don’t have your phone with you or don’t have physical recovery codes, you should still make sure you can access them wherever you are. If you use a password manager to process your credentials and personal information, you have all the resources you need to store and retrieve recovery codes on any device, including the Internet.

Password managers like 1Password and LastPass have web interfaces in case you need to access your information from a new computer (or your replacement smartphone). Include recovery codes with the rest of your account information, or put your set of recovery codes in a new document stored in your password manager. While your password manager may be more accessible and convenient, you should always have a physical copy of your passcodes in a safe place, so don’t skip the steps above.


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