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DutchNed
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December 01, 2017, 05:31:58 PM
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Hi all,
Somewhere around 2009 or 2010 I bought a small amount of BTC. Forgot all about it and later gave my old laptop to a cousin who formatted it and put Linux on it.
On the radio I heard Bitcoin is doing really well and I remember having printed both public and private keys on a piece of paper, but I could not find it anywhere. Until yesterday, coincidentally found it between some old bank statements.
So here is my question: is there a way to retrieve the bitcoins and put them in a new wallet. It should be worth at least a few hundreds of dollars. No QR codes, just characters on paper so I will have to type them in by hand. I hope it is still possible. Please keep in mind that I am still a newbie, any help/suggestions would be very much appreciated!

Dutch
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racquemis
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December 01, 2017, 05:38:24 PM
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Depending on what type of key or pass you have you should be able to import them.... if you remember if the paper you have is your private key or just a passphrase.
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December 01, 2017, 05:44:05 PM
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Hi all,
Somewhere around 2009 or 2010 I bought a small amount of BTC. Forgot all about it and later gave my old laptop to a cousin who formatted it and put Linux on it.
On the radio I heard Bitcoin is doing really well and I remember having printed both public and private keys on a piece of paper, but I could not find it anywhere. Until yesterday, coincidentally found it between some old bank statements.
So here is my question: is there a way to retrieve the bitcoins and put them in a new wallet. It should be worth at least a few hundreds of dollars. No QR codes, just characters on paper so I will have to type them in by hand. I hope it is still possible. Please keep in mind that I am still a newbie, any help/suggestions would be very much appreciated!

Dutch

Scan the PUBLIC keys and use blockchain.info/address/+your_address or use any software wallet to make a watch only wallet.

If there's any money, you can look to import the private keys if you do wish to cash out. What character does the private key begin with and what is the nature of it (is it alphanumerics or just numerics)? The public keys/addresses should begin with a 1 in regular format as alphanumeric strings).

DutchNed
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December 01, 2017, 05:49:34 PM
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Thanks for your reply. I used Multibit at the time and never bothered to use a passphrase or password. It was such a small amount and I only sent a small amount to a friend just for fun to see how long it took to arrive. I soon lost interest and forgot all about it. At the time it was worth 10 dollars or less but a lot has changed since then. I just counted the characters of the key and it has 51 characters so I'm sure it is the private key.
I understand Multibit is not even used anymore. What program could I use to enter the keys in?
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December 01, 2017, 05:51:01 PM
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Thanks for your reply. I used Multibit at the time and never bothered to use a passphrase or password. It was such a small amount and I only sent a small amount to a friend just for fun to see how long it took to arrive. I soon lost interest and forgot all about it. At the time it was worth 10 dollars or less but a lot has changed since then. I just counted the characters of the key and it has 51 characters so I'm sure it is the private key.
I understand Multibit is not even used anymore. What program could I use to enter the keys in?

You should download a litewallet/software wallet such as electrum https://electrum.org/#download, and import the private key, all the addresses associated with it will show, with your balance.

racquemis
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December 01, 2017, 05:51:33 PM
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U can use Electrum and when setup choose Standard wallet - Use public or private keys and import it. When it is a private key you can spend the bitcoins.
DutchNed
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December 01, 2017, 05:59:47 PM
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Thanks all. Something came up but I will try it later today, and let you know if it worked.
LoyceV
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December 01, 2017, 06:37:33 PM
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Somewhere around 2009 or 2010 I bought a small amount of BTC.
If this is true: Bitcoin was worth $0.30 at most at the end of 2010. Before that, it was much cheaper. If you really bought a "small amount", I assume you mean you spend a few dollars on it. That means you could be looking at tens or hundreds of Bitcoins.

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It should be worth at least a few hundreds of dollars.
Considering you've had them since 2009 or 2010, you could also be looking at millions of dollars! This brings me to the next thing: do not trust your computer to enter a potentially huge amount of money in a hot wallet!

At the time it was worth 10 dollars or less
My first assumption was right: depending on when you bought them you could indeed be looking at many millions of dollars now.

Thanks all. Something came up but I will try it later today, and let you know if it worked.
We see threads like this more often lately, since Bitcoin has been in the news a lot because of it's price increases.

My advice to start: don't import your private key yet, as long as it's on paper, it's safe. Check your public address (the one starting with a 1, and most likely 34 characters long) on a block explorer such as https://blockchain.info/. Just enter it in the search field.
Don't enter your (longer) private key by mistake!

If your address indeed holds several to hundreds of Bitcoins, make a plan from there. Think about what you want to do with them, where to send them, and how to do this. You can for instance import the address on an offline device, and create transactions from there. You'll want to make accounts at trusted exchanges to sell some, get a hardware wallet to store some, and you'll need some time to arrange all this.
As long as your private key is offline, you're safe. Of course there is a chance your computer is just safe, but with an amount that could potentially be this large, I wouldn't take that gamble.

DutchNed
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December 02, 2017, 05:54:33 PM
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....My advice to start: don't import your private key yet, as long as it's on paper, it's safe. Check your public address (the one starting with a 1, and most likely 34 characters long) on a block explorer such as https://blockchain.info/. Just enter it in the search field.
Don't enter your (longer) private key by mistake!

Thanks LoyceV, I took your advice and just checked the balance. And I was pleasantly surprised. No I am not a millionaire but a few thousand dollar was much more than I had expected. Looking at the value it had in 2011  (it turned out to be later then I remembered) I must have spent most of it back then except for a few dollars, maybe even less than one dollar. I contacted the friend I remember sending some, to get him into bitcoin, be he sold his years ago. And now regrets it of course. Since I have a low income and money is very tight at the moment I am tempted to sell them but I may regret that later.
What do you guys think: hold on to them a bit longer and see what happens? Since I invested only a few dollars back then there is not much risk in keeping them and see what happens in the future. What would you do in my position?
LoyceV
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December 02, 2017, 06:22:40 PM
 #10

Thanks LoyceV, I took your advice and just checked the balance. And I was pleasantly surprised. No I am not a millionaire but a few thousand dollar was much more than I had expected.
Congratulations on your new small fortune Cheesy

Quote
What do you guys think: hold on to them a bit longer and see what happens? Since I invested only a few dollars back then there is not much risk in keeping them and see what happens in the future. What would you do in my position?
When you say there's not much risk because of your low initial investment, you're looking at it the wrong way. Your initial investment is irrelevant, the current value is what you're risking now. Price Speculation is another board though.

I can only advice you what I would do, given my current knowledge: take some profit: sell a part of your coins. Sell enough to have something in your hands if the price drops, but keep enough to still have enough if the price goes up tenfold. Maybe sell 10-20% now, and do the same if the price doubles again?
Just don't panic sell if the price drops 30%, that happens quite often. Until now you've been oblivious when this happened, until now Bitcoin always recovered again.

One last thing: if you sell a part, make sure you store the remaining amount in a safe place again. If your computer is clean and trusted you can import the key. Electrum was mentioned already. Make sure you keep track of where your change goes if you just import your private key.
A modern Electrum by default asks you to write down a 12 word seed phrase. After this, you can sweep your private key instead of importing it. This takes care of your change addresses, and the seed words are enough to backup all your future transactions.

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December 02, 2017, 06:37:39 PM
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....My advice to start: don't import your private key yet, as long as it's on paper, it's safe. Check your public address (the one starting with a 1, and most likely 34 characters long) on a block explorer such as https://blockchain.info/. Just enter it in the search field.
Don't enter your (longer) private key by mistake!

Thanks LoyceV, I took your advice and just checked the balance. And I was pleasantly surprised. No I am not a millionaire but a few thousand dollar was much more than I had expected. Looking at the value it had in 2011  (it turned out to be later then I remembered) I must have spent most of it back then except for a few dollars, maybe even less than one dollar. I contacted the friend I remember sending some, to get him into bitcoin, be he sold his years ago. And now regrets it of course. Since I have a low income and money is very tight at the moment I am tempted to sell them but I may regret that later.
What do you guys think: hold on to them a bit longer and see what happens? Since I invested only a few dollars back then there is not much risk in keeping them and see what happens in the future. What would you do in my position?

congratulation to you, love to see get everything back again! Maybe share your story to help another people learn from this experience
DutchNed
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December 02, 2017, 06:44:47 PM
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Good point LoyceV, what is at stake is the current value. Back then I had high hopes for bitcoin and tried to get others interested. When the value dropped I lost interest. myself I can see I made 5 transactions but can't remember what they were. And I remembered having printed the keys and put them somewhere. When I couldn' t find it I assumed I had thrown it away. Glad I still found it. Smiley
Make sure you keep track of where your change goes if you just import your private key.
What do you mean by ' change'?

Is it smart to put Electrum on a thumb drive, if even possible?
AdolfinWolf
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December 02, 2017, 07:18:19 PM
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Good point LoyceV, what is at stake is the current value. Back then I had high hopes for bitcoin and tried to get others interested. When the value dropped I lost interest. myself I can see I made 5 transactions but can't remember what they were. And I remembered having printed the keys and put them somewhere. When I couldn' t find it I assumed I had thrown it away. Glad I still found it. Smiley
Make sure you keep track of where your change goes if you just import your private key.
What do you mean by ' change'?

Is it smart to put Electrum on a thumb drive, if even possible?

Change is the money which is spent that returns to your wallet after a transaction.

Lets say you have 10BTC on an adress, you buy a new X for 4 BTC.

10 bitcoin will be spent, 4 to the adress for the stuff you wanted to buy, which means 6 will be returned to a change adress, ( hence the name).

If you just import the private key of the spent adress, ( where the 10 btc is ), you might not have access to your change adress, so be wary that you might need to change the change adress to an adress you have the private keys for.

Although usually this isn't the case, you should really check it before spending anything.

DutchNed
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December 02, 2017, 07:33:33 PM
 #14

This sounds confusing to me: have things changed these last years? The 15.... key is my public address right? That should not change when I make a transaction is it? Maybe I was never aware how a transaction really took place.
How can I check this in Electrum?
Flat.E
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December 02, 2017, 09:09:24 PM
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This sounds confusing to me: have things changed these last years? The 15.... key is my public address right? That should not change when I make a transaction is it? Maybe I was never aware how a transaction really took place.
How can I check this in Electrum?
And don't forget to get the altcoins you also have from blockchain splittings that passed recently, BCH (bitcoincash) and BTG (bitcoingold), both at a 1:1 ratio for the BTC you have, and BCD (bitcoindiamond) at a 10:1 ratio. If you use an android phone, consider Coinomi as wallet, covers most cryptocoins but BCD not yet.
LoyceV
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December 02, 2017, 09:11:18 PM
 #16

Is it smart to put Electrum on a thumb drive, if even possible?
I can't think of a reason this would be better. But it's possible to do.

This sounds confusing to me: have things changed these last years? The 15.... key is my public address right? That should not change when I make a transaction is it? Maybe I was never aware how a transaction really took place.
How can I check this in Electrum?
15xxx sounds like your Bitcoin address indeed.
Change didn't change Tongue If you just use a wallet, the wallet takes care of your change. If you sweep the funds into your Electrum, your new wallet should take care of it again. But if you import it into a new wallet, it depends on the wallet how it handles it.

There are of course sites that can explain it much better than I do, like this one (although a bit outdated): Five Ways to Lose Money with Bitcoin Change Addresses.

DutchNed
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December 03, 2017, 02:29:54 AM
 #17

I get it now, I will triple-check every setting in Electrum before I start using it. First I better catch up by reading a lot and watching some Youtube video's before I spend any of it.
Thank you all for helping me out!
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