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Author Topic: Diving into an old BTC wallet from ~2014 and found a nice surprise - what next?  (Read 379 times)
walletdatdiver
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February 06, 2021, 01:17:58 PM
Merited by ETFbitcoin (1)
 #1

Hi all, I'll keep this as simple as possible for brevity's sake - please ask questions if I've left any gaps in explaining my situation, as follows

I bought and traded Bitcoin from approx 2012 to 2014, using Bitcoin-qt as my wallet until I learned about Electrum and began to use it instead

I haven't bought or sold BTC since about 2015, but given the recent price spikes, curiousity has gotten the better of me. I'm fairly sure my old wallets were completely emptied of any BTC, but better safe than stupid, right?

This week I downloaded Bitcoin Core, synced the blockchain to the network (took 5-6 days) and opened the oldest wallet.dat file I had backed up

It contains my transaction history from 2012 to 2014. Even better, the wallet itself seems to contain a non-trivial amount (ie greater than 1BTC), with that amount displayed as "available" and zero BTC under pending. Great!

Yet more joy: when I went to send a test transfer (tiny fraction of BTC) to an Electrum wallet, I was able to remember my years-old password and send the transaction through

Or so I thought... That test transfer has the status of "0/unconfirmed, not in memory pool" within Bitcoin Core. I have done some reading on this (other forum posts across the years) and I'm not clear on why is occurring

Bitcoin Core itself notes in bottom right corner that it's up to date with 669,000+ blocks of transaction history. And the client has 10 active connections to BTC network

So I'm a little confused, and wondering whether the "available" balance amount shown in the wallet is a phantom vestige of many years ago, and not real... or whether there's some other way to salvage what appears to be a functioning wallet?

If you were in my situation, what would you try next?

Thanks in advance
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February 06, 2021, 01:29:39 PM
Merited by Jet Cash (2), ETFbitcoin (1), Upgrade00 (1)
 #2

First: make a new backup of your wallet.dat!
Then: check your addresses on for instance Blockchair.com to see what the current balance is.

What fee did you use for your transaction? And what "tiny" amount did you send: if it was less than 0.00000546 BTC, it's under the dust limit.

A warning: ignore all "help" you get offered through PM, people have been scammed that way.

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February 06, 2021, 01:30:04 PM
 #3

Can you post the txid here on the forum?

So I'm a little confused, and wondering whether the "available" balance amount shown in the wallet is a phantom vestige of many years ago, and not real... or whether there's some other way to salvage what appears to be a functioning wallet?
The only way to be sure is to check on a block explorer like https://blockchair.com/
Check the original address to know if there are any funds on it, also check the test address for any incoming or confirmed transactions. If the funds are not in any of these, then it could well be a phantom vestige as you say, probably a canceled transaction (through a double spend) which was received some years back.

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February 06, 2021, 01:37:18 PM
Last edit: February 06, 2021, 04:32:14 PM by AdolfinWolf
 #4

First: make a new backup of your wallet.dat!
Then: check your addresses on for instance Blockchair.com to see what the current balance is.

What fee did you use for your transaction? And what "tiny" amount did you send: if it was less than 0.00000546 BTC, it's under the dust limit.

A warning: ignore all "help" you get offered through PM, people have been scammed that way.

Indeed, if the fee is not equal to the min fee (but meets 1/sat/b) it might still not be relayed by your connected nodes.

Anyway, please make a backup & then slowly think about what the problem might be.

You have lots of options; first, to check if there's actually 1 BTC in your account, open the wallet address in a blockexplorer.

If so, you can do a number of things; export the private key, abandon your current transaction & rebroadcast, etc.

I'm not that great with the GUI, but if you try to list your transactions, (listtransactions), can you find it? If so, try to abandon it and resend.

Can you post the txid here on the forum?
I don't see why that would necessarily be necessary right now.

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February 06, 2021, 09:16:17 PM
 #5

Can you post the txid here on the forum?
I don't see why that would necessarily be necessary right now.
This

Do NOT post any unnecessary personal data here


Own address: 19QkqAza7BHFTuoz9N8UQkryP4E9jHo4N3 - Pywallet support: 1AQDfx22pKGgXnUZFL1e4UKos3QqvRzNh5 - Bitcointalk++ script support: 1Pxeccscj1ygseTdSV1qUqQCanp2B2NMM2
Pywallet: instructions. Encrypted wallet support, export/import keys/addresses, backup wallets, export/import CSV data from/into wallet, merge wallets, delete/import addresses and transactions, recover altcoins sent to bitcoin addresses, sign/verify messages and files with Bitcoin addresses, recover deleted wallets, etc.
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February 06, 2021, 11:56:33 PM
Merited by ETFbitcoin (1)
 #6

Or so I thought... That test transfer has the status of "0/unconfirmed, not in memory pool" within Bitcoin Core. I have done some reading on this (other forum posts across the years) and I'm not clear on why is occurring
This means that the transaction has been rejected for some reason.

Depending on the fee rate used... it's possibly because of the "mempool min fee". But you should really have received an error message when attempting to send it... rather than it just showing as "not in memory pool". Huh

You can attempt to rebroadcast it... right click the transaction, select "Copy Transaction ID":



Then goto the "console" in Bitcoin Core (Window -> Console):



Then enter the command:
Code:
getrawtransaction PUT_THE_TRANSACTION_ID_HERE


That should give you a big long string of random looking "hex" characters... 0-9A-F... copy paste that string and use the command:
Code:
sendrawtransaction PUT_THE_HEX_STRING_HERE

If it all goes well, you should receive the "TransactionID" as output...



However, if, instead of the TransactionID being returned, you get some other error message, post the error message here.

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February 07, 2021, 11:42:35 AM
 #7

This

Do NOT post any unnecessary personal data here
That's good advice, reason why I added the question mark. Some users do not know how to properly read information contained in txids, so it's sometimes helpful to give them pointers of what to look out for or for them to post it publicly, but, only when it becomes necessary and if the user can manage their privacy well enough.

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ETFbitcoin
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February 07, 2021, 12:05:02 PM
 #8

If you were in my situation, what would you try next?

After finding your Bitcoin addresses and see it's balance on blockexplorer, there are 2 options,
1. Wait until Bitcoin Core is fully synced, but only if you're willing to download 350+ GB of blockchain files and waiting some for time (depending on your internet and hardware speed).
2. Obtain private key of your wallet and import/sweep the private key on lightweight wallet (such as Electrum).

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February 08, 2021, 04:51:02 AM
Merited by LoyceV (5), ETFbitcoin (1)
 #9

OK, time to provide an update. Thanks to those who have provided thoughts and feedback. I've done a whole bunch of reading since I created this thread, and finally landed on a course of action, which I'll outline below

First, just to be upfront about my original post: when I loaded my old wallet.dat file, my Bitcoin Core client was showing an available balance of about 12 BTC

This is obviously a life-changing amount of money at this time. But rather than getting carried away with early celebrations, I've been extremely cautious throughout this process as that amount seems extremely high, considering how careful I was with buying/trading/handling BTC in the past. Hence my earlier question about whether that amount is a phantom vestige, or actually able to be used/traded/sold.

So to today: after lots of reading, I decided to use 'dumpwallet' command in Bitcoin Core console to dump all wallet keys, with the intention of sweeping into a new Electrum wallet.

Interestingly, the resulting text file shows ~130 lines for the period between 2012 and 2014, and then ~1000 lines for the period in the last couple of days when I've been poking around with the old wallet.dat file, trying to figure out what to do.

After a bit of massaging, I swept those ~130 lines into my new Electrum wallet, which yielded about half a bitcoin. This is not quite the life-changing amount I had seen earlier in my Bitcoin Core available balance, but it's still, as they say, money for nothing in the scheme of things. Nice.

Of that ~0.5BTC, I have sent a small test transaction to a local crypto exchange that I've successfully used previously, and if that test is received, hooray. Good to go with whatever I do next, whether cash out or HODL.

Of the ~1000 recent lines generated by 'dumpwallet', I did a test of the first 50 to see if anything could be swept from those wallet keys. No dice. Electrum returns a 'No inputs found' message.

Here's my next question: while sweeping coins from Core to Electrum, I've kept the Core client running, and the available balance of ~12 BTC has stayed the same. Even while my Electrum client is showing a confirmed balance of ~0.5BTC

What do you think is causing Bitcoin Core to show that available balance? Is it "confused" or caught up in a transaction history that... just doesn't exist?

If anyone has any theories on why Bitcoin Core would be showing that available balance of 12 BTC, I'd love to hear it. Genuinely puzzling. As though it's stuck on a different timeline to the one I'm in.

Thanks again for your help. Today is a good day.



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February 08, 2021, 05:12:27 AM
 #10

What do you think is causing Bitcoin Core to show that available balance? Is it "confused" or caught up in a transaction history that... just doesn't exist?
This can only happen if your node is not fully synced, in your first post you said you've already synced it so this shouldn't have happened.
Try using listunspent to see which outputs does your node thinks are unspent and then check the transaction IDs in your Electrum to see if they all exist in your history tab*. If they don't that means you haven't imported one address with a bigger balance.

* Assuming you have imported those keys in your Electrum, to search in your history tab go to that tab and press ctrl+f and paste the txid in the textbox that appears at the bottom of the window.
* You can also check the txids in a block explorer.

walletdatdiver
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February 08, 2021, 05:21:20 AM
 #11

What do you think is causing Bitcoin Core to show that available balance? Is it "confused" or caught up in a transaction history that... just doesn't exist?
This can only happen if your node is not fully synced, in your first post you said you've already synced it so this shouldn't have happened.
Try using listunspent to see which outputs does your node thinks are unspent and then check the transaction IDs in your Electrum to see if they all exist in your history tab*. If they don't that means you haven't imported one address with a bigger balance.

* Assuming you have imported those keys in your Electrum, to search in your history tab go to that tab and press ctrl+f and paste the txid in the textbox that appears at the bottom of the window.
* You can also check the txids in a block explorer.
Thanks, that is interesting. I've checked a few of the bigger outputs listed under 'listunspent' on Blockchair and they're all at zero.

One other thing that I should have mentioned earlier, perhaps: I am running Bitcoin Core in 'prune mode', ie under Options I've got the checkbox ticked to prune block storage to 2GB rather than the entire ~350GB blockchain

However, my understanding is that using 'prune mode' shouldn't affect the wallet's available balance, as Bitcoin Core still has to go through and verify every historical transaction.

Could it be that the majority of the ~12BTC is caught somewhere in the past, and has actually been spent in 2012-2014 (by me), but for some reason the client thinks it's still available in 2021? How odd...
pooya87
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February 08, 2021, 05:41:21 AM
 #12

However, my understanding is that using 'prune mode' shouldn't affect the wallet's available balance, as Bitcoin Core still has to go through and verify every historical transaction.
That is correct.

Quote
Could it be that the majority of the ~12BTC is caught somewhere in the past, and has actually been spent in 2012-2014 (by me), but for some reason the client thinks it's still available in 2021? How odd...
This is unlikely because bitcoin core is wise enough to check and update your wallet information as it continues syncing. But let's see what others think who are more familiar with bitcoin core, I'm not the best at it.

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February 08, 2021, 07:44:42 AM
 #13

You may have already did these things but did you try checking through your transaction history to trace in which addresses the remaining 11.5BTC is located, yours or somebody else's? Can Core see the transaction made to Electrum with 0.5BTC? Restarting Core with -rescan option?

If you have swept, or at least tried to sweep, all of the 1000 remaining keys then this wallet's transaction state is out of date and a -rescan will show the true amount. At least to me it sounds like that remaining balance is not there, assuming, again, you swept every key.

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February 08, 2021, 10:21:39 AM
 #14

Interestingly, the resulting text file shows ~130 lines for the period between 2012 and 2014, and then ~1000 lines for the period in the last couple of days when I've been poking around with the old wallet.dat file, trying to figure out what to do.
In the past, Bitcoin-qt only created a new private key when it needed one. At some point (and I'm not sure what year) it was upgraded to generate 100 and later 1000 addresses "keypoolsize" upfront, so an older backup wouldn't instantly be outdated.
My guess is those 1000 recently generated keys were meant for this.
That being said: if your current wallet.dat came from a different backup than the latest version you've actually used in 2012-2014, it might not include all your private keys.
And in case you're still going to make any transactions from this wallet.dat: you should make another backup (don't overwrite older backups), because those 1000 addresses are probably not included in your previous backup.

Quote
about half a bitcoin.
For future recovery: your half a Bitcoin has about $300 worth of Forkcoins. Don't bother about them now, and don't try to recover them before securely moving out all your Bitcoins, but don't forget about them either.

Quote
Of the ~1000 recent lines generated by 'dumpwallet', I did a test of the first 50 to see if anything could be swept from those wallet keys. No dice. Electrum returns a 'No inputs found' message.
That does make sense if the addresses were only created recently.

Quote
What do you think is causing Bitcoin Core to show that available balance? Is it "confused" or caught up in a transaction history that... just doesn't exist?
Suggestion: turn on Coin Control in Bitcoin Core's settings. Then click "Send" > "Inputs" and see which address holds that balance according to Bitcoin Core. Check that address on a Block explorer.

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February 08, 2021, 12:03:54 PM
 #15

Can Core see the transaction made to Electrum with 0.5BTC? Restarting Core with -rescan option?
Strangely, no. After I swept keys to Electrum (while keeping Bitcoin Core open), the only transaction that appeared in my history was a small amount (~0.0001 BTC). Otherwise, the bulk of the "available balance" remained unchanged, ie ~12BTC. So yes, it seems a -rescan in order to see how that affects the amount. (After backing up the wallet again, as LoyceV kindly pointed out.)

For future recovery: your half a Bitcoin has about $300 worth of Forkcoins. Don't bother about them now, and don't try to recover them before securely moving out all your Bitcoins, but don't forget about them either.
Thanks for this reminder!
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February 09, 2021, 10:26:21 PM
 #16

So yes, it seems a -rescan in order to see how that affects the amount.
Note that because of this:
One other thing that I should have mentioned earlier, perhaps: I am running Bitcoin Core in 'prune mode', ie under Options I've got the checkbox ticked to prune block storage to 2GB rather than the entire ~350GB blockchain
Doing a "rescan" is going to be a painful experience for you... Bitcoin Core can't rescan on block data you don't have... you've pruned your wallet, so only the last 2 Gigs worth of blocks (ie. 2020-2021 data) will be available.

So a "rescan", for you, is going to trigger a full redownload of the blockchain! Shocked Undecided


Question: Did you fully sync Bitcoin Core first... and then load the old wallet.dat? Huh If you loaded the old wallet file after your node had finished syncing, then Bitcoin Core will not have been able to update the wallet transaction history/balance correctly... as you're running a pruned node.

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February 10, 2021, 01:55:00 AM
Last edit: February 10, 2021, 03:30:27 AM by walletdatdiver
 #17

Doing a "rescan" is going to be a painful experience for you... Bitcoin Core can't rescan on block data you don't have... you've pruned your wallet, so only the last 2 Gigs worth of blocks (ie. 2020-2021 data) will be available.

So a "rescan", for you, is going to trigger a full redownload of the blockchain! Shocked Undecided

Yes, I'm in the midst of that painful process at the moment. But I've decided to turn off prune mode so that I can more easily check my other old wallets against the whole blockchain on my disk, rather than reindexing/rescanning every time. (I should have done this in the first place, rather than pruning, but hey, live and learn.)

Question: Did you fully sync Bitcoin Core first... and then load the old wallet.dat? Huh If you loaded the old wallet file after your node had finished syncing, then Bitcoin Core will not have been able to update the wallet transaction history/balance correctly... as you're running a pruned node.
Yes, that is what I did. And I think you've just unlocked the mystery of why the ~12BTC "available balance" was showing at all. We shall see what that same wallet shows once my rescan finishes (in ~5-7 days' time). I suspect it'll be zero.

If that's the case, then I guess the learning from this experience - for anyone who somehow finds this thread in the future - is to not do what I did, lest you get your hopes up that you've discovered non-existent BTC
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February 11, 2021, 12:40:50 AM
Merited by walletdatdiver (3)
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Question: Did you fully sync Bitcoin Core first... and then load the old wallet.dat? Huh If you loaded the old wallet file after your node had finished syncing, then Bitcoin Core will not have been able to update the wallet transaction history/balance correctly... as you're running a pruned node.
Yes, that is what I did. And I think you've just unlocked the mystery of why the ~12BTC "available balance" was showing at all.
Interesting, I was certain that Bitcoin Core displays an error/warning if you load an old wallet into a "pruned" node warning that it may not be displaying the correct history/balance etc... although I might be confusing it with the warning you get if you "unload" a wallet. Huh


We shall see what that same wallet shows once my rescan finishes (in ~5-7 days' time). I suspect it'll be zero.
You may not even need to wait that long... if you have the wallet loaded now (while it is syncing)... it will find the transaction history as it goes along processing blocks. So, once you get past the 2015 blocks (when you think you stopped using the wallet), it should show the "correct" balance.

Obviously, that may not be the case if the wallet was used after that time.. but hopefully, you'll be able to see the transaction history/balance updating as it syncs... which should give you some idea of what happened to the coins.

In any case, once it has finished syncing fully, you can be fairly certain that the balance showing is "true and correct".

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February 11, 2021, 02:56:39 AM
 #19

Interesting, I was certain that Bitcoin Core displays an error/warning if you load an old wallet into a "pruned" node warning that it may not be displaying the correct history/balance etc... although I might be confusing it with the warning you get if you "unload" a wallet. Huh
Definitely no warning shown, and I downloaded the newest version of Bitcoin Core available. Might be an oversight from the developers, or maybe I'm the first idiot to have come across this self-inflicted error!

Blockchain is at 87% synced, with ~37,000 blocks remaining, and it should be done by this time tomorrow. Maybe.

To your other point: the wallet is showing an available balance of zero in the background, while resyncing.
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February 11, 2021, 08:02:06 AM
 #20

To your other point: the wallet is showing an available balance of zero in the background, while resyncing.
And is it showing any transaction history? Huh

If you can see all the "ins" and "outs", you might be able to figure out where all the BTC went... and when.

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