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Author Topic: wallet.dat vs private keys  (Read 1661 times)
raymonddaf
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May 18, 2017, 04:16:16 PM
 #1

Can someone explain the difference to me between backing up my wallet.dat vs saving a copy of my private keys.

Im trying to ensure my wallet is fully secure from unauthorised access to my laptop and hard drive failure.  I need to know the difference before i can put a proper plan to prevent loss/theft.

Is my wallet.dat basically the file that i need to be able to access my wallet again should my laptop crash?  Whats the difference between that and private keys are they not the same thing, or for example i have say a jaxx wallet that is multi currency so i could either back up my wallet.dat or save a copy of each private key that relates to the individual coins.

Looking on the forum and net and i cant see an answer explaining the difference.
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ranochigo
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May 18, 2017, 04:33:31 PM
 #2

They work the same way. Wallet.dat (for Bitcoin Core) contains the transactions related to your wallet, your private keys and your notes you have given to your transactions. If you save only the wallet.dat, you risk not saving the specific details that cannot be found on a new copy of your client installation.

In my opinion, wallet.dat would be a better choice. When using change address, the coins are sent to a new address and it is a hassle to manually extract your private key. If you want to backup your private keys, try backing up your wallet seeds instead. The seeds will cover all the addresses that can be generated from your wallet.














 

 

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raymonddaf
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May 18, 2017, 04:39:49 PM
 #3

So is it only bitcoin core that has a wallet.dat or every wallet has one?  I plan on using a multi coin wallet like jaxx for instance as i want to invest in altcoins too and i have also invested in a few ico's so want to ensure i back up everything.

When you say not saving specific details what do you mean main thing for me is as long as i can get my coins back if anything goes wrong.
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May 18, 2017, 04:44:27 PM
 #4

So is it only bitcoin core that has a wallet.dat or every wallet has one?  I plan on using a multi coin wallet like jaxx for instance as i want to invest in altcoins too and i have also invested in a few ico's so want to ensure i back up everything.

When you say not saving specific details what do you mean main thing for me is as long as i can get my coins back if anything goes wrong.
Every wallet has a way to store wallet files. For Bitcoin Core, the file is called wallet.dat. Data includes labels for transactions and address book.

You will be able to get your coins back as long as you have your private key. But since wallets mostly uses change address, you do have to backup an additional private key per transaction. IIRC, Jaxx uses a seed system and you just have to keep the seed safe and you will be fine.














 

 

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raymonddaf
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May 18, 2017, 05:17:40 PM
 #5

Few more questions if you dont mind, help so far is appreciated  Smiley

As ive said i want to hold multiple coins and ico tokens/coins.  I have a windows laptop connected to the net (hot)

Im thinking below is a good way to keep secure correct me on any points if im wrong and if you can answer the questions i have:

keep only small amount of coin in a multi currency wallet - say jaxx on my hot laptop for ease of use, all others keep on a usb so its off the net (cold) if i need more n hot wallet send from cold wallets.
make a bootable windows usb so that if my computer is infected in any way its not compromised
use bitlocker to then create an encrypted folder on the bootable usb so if someone gets a hold of the usb they cant access the wallets.
take a copy of the recovery code for bitlocker and store somewhere safe
take a copy of that usb and keep in a different location in case say my house burns down
save all my wallets to this usb encrypted folder

Questions:
1. is the above ok and what can i add/change to better protect myself from theft/loss.
2. if someone gains access to my laptop and copies my wallet can they basically use my funds, jaxx only has a 4 digit numerical pass that would be easy to hack i imagine
3. if i copy my folder in usb where my wallets are stored (ie right click copy and paste onto a new usb) is that all i need to make a copy?
4. How often should i copy have heard every 100 transactions, does this mean that say for example i lose usb or send money to it when i then use my backup usb those new transactions will be there (even though i backed up before i done these transactions) or do i lose any coins that have been added since last backed up?
5. should i be backing up the wallets (ie taking copies) or should i be backing up the taking a note of the seeds/wallet.dat on my encrypted usb?

6. What happens when you  buy an ico token for example i have bought MobileGo and Minexcoin when an ico finishes do i get a new offline wallet for that indicidual ico or can i store these coins tokens in an ether wallet, such as jaxx (want to store offline not on the net)



apoorvlathey
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May 18, 2017, 05:23:00 PM
 #6

So is it only bitcoin core that has a wallet.dat or every wallet has one? 
Yes Electrum too saves bitcoin addresses details in separate wallet.dat files for each wallet.
It is much easier to export tons of btc addresses in one go than copy pasting individual private keys.
From security point of view, wallet.dat file can be encrypted but copy pasting the private keys may be at risk if you don't store it securely.
odolvlobo
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May 18, 2017, 05:42:45 PM
 #7

For any kind of reasonable answer, we need to know which wallet you are using. Different wallets work differently.

A wallet stores your private keys and/or your seed in a file somewhere. Some wallets store that information in a file named wallet.dat. It is important to ensure that this information is both encrypted and backed up.

Some wallets encrypt the data by default with a password that you provide. BTW, a password is not the same as a seed or a private key. If the wallet you use does not store the information securely, you should use a different wallet.

Some wallets (such as Bitcoin Core) have a backup feature. It might be better to use that feature to back up the wallet's information rather than doing it manually.

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raymonddaf
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May 18, 2017, 06:01:26 PM
 #8

cheers for the replies: right now im using jaxx as i only have ethereum and bitcoin, im planning on adding ripple (new wallet as jaxx doesnt support yet) and i have bought ico for minexcoin and mobilego and will also be buying sonm

if someone could advise on each of the questions below this will give me an understanding of what i need to do:

Im thinking below is a good way to keep secure correct me on any points if im wrong and if you can answer the questions i have:

a. keep only small amount of coin in a multi currency wallet - say jaxx on my hot laptop for ease of use, all others keep on a usb so its off the net (cold) if i need more n hot wallet send from cold wallets.
b. make a bootable windows usb so that if my computer is infected in any way its not compromised
c. use bitlocker to then create an encrypted folder on the bootable usb so if someone gets a hold of the usb they cant access the wallets.
d. take a copy of the recovery code for bitlocker and store somewhere safe
e. take a copy of that usb and keep in a different location in case say my house burns down
f. save all my wallets to this usb encrypted folder

Questions:
1. is the above ok and what can i add/change to better protect myself from theft/loss.
2. if someone gains access to my laptop and copies my wallet can they basically use my funds, jaxx only has a 4 digit numerical pass that would be easy to hack i imagine
3. if i copy my folder in usb where my wallets are stored (ie right click copy and paste onto a new usb) is that all i need to make a copy?
4. How often should i copy have heard every 100 transactions, does this mean that say for example i lose usb or send money to it when i then use my backup usb those new transactions will be there (even though i backed up before i done these transactions) or do i lose any coins that have been added since last backed up?
5. should i be backing up the wallets (ie taking copies) or should i be backing up the taking a note of the seeds/wallet.dat on my encrypted usb?  then just download a new wallet and back up from that
6. what happens if say jaxx goes does under, will my seeds get it back to a different wallet?

7. What happens when you  buy an ico token for example i have bought MobileGo and Minexcoin when an ico finishes do i get a new offline wallet for that indicidual ico or can i store these coins tokens in an ether wallet, such as jaxx (want to store offline not on the net)
apoorvlathey
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May 18, 2017, 06:13:42 PM
 #9

3. if i copy my folder in usb where my wallets are stored (ie right click copy and paste onto a new usb) is that all i need to make a copy?
Yes it would be sufficient to make a copy.
4. How often should i copy have heard every 100 transactions, does this mean that say for example i lose usb or send money to it when i then use my backup usb those new transactions will be there (even though i backed up before i done these transactions) or do i lose any coins that have been added since last backed up?
To backup all your bitcoins, you just need to makeup the wallet once only in a usb, assuming that you do not generate new bitcoin addresses.
All the transactions are stored on the blockchain network, and once you make the usb online again, it would automatically get synced through the wallet.
raymonddaf
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May 18, 2017, 07:50:15 PM
 #10

Cheers apoorvlathey for clearing those 2 points up:

Anyone help on the following, point 5 is the main one i need clarified to at least get started:

2. if someone gains access to my laptop and copies my wallet can they basically use my funds? jaxx only has a 4 digit numerical pass that would be easy to hack i imagine

5. should i be backing up the wallets (ie taking copies) or should i be backing up the taking a note of the seeds/wallet.dat on my encrypted usb?  then just download a new wallet and back up from that

6. what happens if say jaxx goes under as a company, will my seeds get my coins back to a different wallet?
ranochigo
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May 19, 2017, 02:59:35 AM
 #11

2. if someone gains access to my laptop and copies my wallet can they basically use my funds? jaxx only has a 4 digit numerical pass that would be easy to hack i imagine
Definitely. The 4 digit PIN is not enough to prevent bruteforce attacks. I would recommend for you to secure your entire harddrive instead.
5. should i be backing up the wallets (ie taking copies) or should i be backing up the taking a note of the seeds/wallet.dat on my encrypted usb?  then just download a new wallet and back up from that
You should take note of your seed. The seed will be able to recover your entire range of address that is generated on your wallet.
6. what happens if say jaxx goes under as a company, will my seeds get my coins back to a different wallet?
AFAIK, Jaxx is using BIP39 HD wallet deviation. If Jaxx somehow cease to work, you can import your seeds into another BIP39 compatible wallet. It will generate the exact same wallet.














 

 

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HCP
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May 19, 2017, 09:14:21 AM
 #12

6. what happens if say jaxx goes under as a company, will my seeds get my coins back to a different wallet?
AFAIK, Jaxx is using BIP39 HD wallet deviation. If Jaxx somehow cease to work, you can import your seeds into another BIP39 compatible wallet. It will generate the exact same wallet.
As long as that BIP39 compatible wallet uses the same derivation path as Jaxx... for the record, from my rather unscientific tests, this appears to be: m/44'/0'/0'/0 (and m/44'/0'/0'/1 for change)... which I believe is BIP44.

raymonddaf
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May 19, 2017, 11:54:21 AM
 #13

Perfect thanks all this give me a complete understanding if what I need to do.
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