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Author Topic: What happens bitcoins when somebody looses their wallet in the long term?  (Read 597 times)
wetjet43
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April 10, 2013, 02:50:46 AM
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Say I loose a wallet password today, and 5 days down the road, each bitcoin is worth $1000 USD. Are those coins lost forever, or does the system somehow "reclaim" them back after X amount of time has gone by?

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DeathAndTaxes
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April 10, 2013, 03:00:10 AM
 #2

There are gone*


*Until such time as SHA-256 or ECDSA become cryptographically weak due to discovered flaws to make collision attacks possible, but for all intents and purposes they are gone as we don't know if that will happen or when it happens.
legendster
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April 10, 2013, 04:49:21 AM
 #3

Its like asking what happens to the $100 value when you burn the $100 bill :/

tiberiandusk
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April 10, 2013, 04:52:39 AM
 #4

Poof. Everyone else's bitcoins go up .000001% in value.

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wetjet43
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April 10, 2013, 04:58:10 AM
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I'd imagine there's a lot of bitcoins that will never be recovered because of lost passwords, and the ammount is only going to go up.

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legendster
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April 10, 2013, 05:31:58 AM
 #6

You guys shud really check into the OTHER uses of an fpga card.. it can also be used to crack passwords Cheesy

bitexchanger
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April 10, 2013, 05:43:40 AM
 #7

As soon as the wallet is deleted your coins are gone for good. That is assuming you do not have a backup of your wallet.

Interested in handling private sales of bulk BTC. Buyers and Sellers. For people who wish to do these transactions privately instead of via an exchange. PM for details. Escrow is mandatory.
mrspencer
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April 10, 2013, 06:09:39 AM
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Its like asking what happens to the $100 value when you burn the $100 bill :/

Ahh hurts thinking about it.  Cry

Rules we all need to know:

Secure your wallet; Bitcoin price is volatile; Bitcoin payments are irreversible; Bitcoin is not anonymous; Instant transactions are less secure; Bitcoin is still experimental; Don't forget government taxes
TheHalfWit
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April 10, 2013, 06:12:58 AM
 #9

How would the system know they were lost and ready to be found?

They're gone, surely as if you torched em.
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April 10, 2013, 01:32:09 PM
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I'd imagine there's a lot of bitcoins that will never be recovered because of lost passwords, and the ammount is only going to go up.

That would be correct.  This is a well known fact about bitcoin.

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April 10, 2013, 11:06:01 PM
 #11

I am not understanding the whole they are gone thing.. arnt they saved on a server somewhere never to be touched.. therefore the value of the coin will always be saved?.. I is confused.
tiberiandusk
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April 10, 2013, 11:10:23 PM
 #12

The coins will always be in the blockchain but without access to the wallet there is absolutely no way of accessing them. They are therefore considered gone forever. If the wallet were somehow able to be recovered they would still work since they never left the blockchain. The coins exist only in the blockchain. Your wallet is simply the passwords needed to show ownership and to spend them which is then reflected in the chain by miners.

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DannyHamilton
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April 10, 2013, 11:41:31 PM
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I am not understanding the whole they are gone thing.. arnt they saved on a server somewhere never to be touched.. therefore the value of the coin will always be saved?.. I is confused.

Gone in a way that is similar to a gold bar dropped into the Mariana Trench is considered "gone".  It still exists, but is is no longer accessible.  Of course, with a gold bar in the Mariana Trench, there might be a chance of retrieving it with current technology.  With lost private keys, there is no currently known technology that would allow you to retrieve it.

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April 10, 2013, 11:53:07 PM
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What are the implications of an infection that corrupts or deletes wallet.dat? This sounds like a question that is brought up often, but that's what the newbie spot is for
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April 10, 2013, 11:58:14 PM
 #15

They aren't really lost. They are just no longer accessible by anyone. Nobody knows how many bitcoins are inaccessible because they are all still in the blockchain and can be counted, but there is no way to know if anyone has the private key or not.

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tiberiandusk
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April 11, 2013, 12:26:11 AM
 #16

What are the implications of an infection that corrupts or deletes wallet.dat? This sounds like a question that is brought up often, but that's what the newbie spot is for

As long as you keep a valid backup somewhere you will be fine. You could even have a paper backup that a computer virus would be hard pressed to delete.

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DannyHamilton
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April 11, 2013, 12:26:40 AM
 #17

What are the implications of an infection that corrupts or deletes wallet.dat? This sounds like a question that is brought up often, but that's what the newbie spot is for

As long as you have a good offline backup, no worries.

If you don't have a backup, they you can see if you can find software that will allow you to un-delete the file.

If the file is gone, and you don't have a good backup, you can assume the bitcoins will remain inaccessible forever.

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