Backup your OpenPGP key on paper using paperkey

If you are worried about your hard drive one day crashing and you losing access to your OpenPGP key (and thus the contents of your encrypted e-mails) then you should have been using a backup! That said an extra archival method of storing your key completely offline would be to use a program called paperkey to export the contents of your OpenPGP key to an easily printed file that you can then re-type into your PC if necessary. This program backs up your secret key in its encrypted form (you did use a passphrase right?) so even if it falls into the hands of evildoers you are still somewhat protected.

Start by installing paperkey

sudo apt-get install paperkey

Next export your secret key to it’s own file

gpg --export-secret-key <KEYID> > secret.gpg

And finally use paperkey to prepare an easy to print version

paperkey --secret-key secret.gpg --output to-print.txt

Or do it all in one command like this

gpg --export-secret-key <KEYID> | paperkey --output to-print.txt