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Author Topic: Noob. Where is my "wallet"? and how is it tied to me?  (Read 1960 times)
chungenhung
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April 15, 2011, 04:14:31 AM
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Ok, a newbie to bitcoin here.
I've downloaded the Windows client from http://sourceforge.net/projects/bitcoin/files/Bitcoin/bitcoin-0.3.20/bitcoin-0.3.20.2-win32.zip/download

Extracted it, and run the executable. It says I can receive money by letting the sender know my receiving string, which is a super long string of characters.
Question is, how does the system know that long string of characters is tied to me? I didn't sign up for an account, so there is no username and password to tied that string to me.
And what if I changed computers and downloaded a new client? The string will be different again.

I am so confused. All I wanted to know is who can I send/receive bitcoin, and how do I know the bitcoin I receive actually is mine.
Yes, I've been to bitcoin.org, but couldn't find anything that really explain it.

Thanks.

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April 15, 2011, 04:41:58 AM
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To send coins you need the private key that corresponds to the public key which received the coins. This key is stored in a file called wallet.dat on your computer.

Coins are yours if you have the key and therefore the ability to spend them.

All this is handled for you though, you can see your balance and send coins right in the client.

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April 15, 2011, 04:53:01 AM
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Question is, how does the system know that long string of characters is tied to me? I didn't sign up for an account, so there is no username and password to tied that string to me.
And what if I changed computers and downloaded a new client? The string will be different again.

That string is actually tied to a file called wallet.dat on your hard-drive, and you can think of your bitcoins as being stored on that file. If you need to use them from a different computer, you have to copy that file to the new computer. You have to be careful not to expose this file to other people though, because anybody who can access it will also have the ability to steal your coins.
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April 15, 2011, 05:08:39 AM
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Question is, how does the system know that long string of characters is tied to me? I didn't sign up for an account, so there is no username and password to tied that string to me.
That super-long string is called the Bitcoin Address. It is a human-readable representation of the public key used to accept the money. The Bitcoin client generates the key pair for you, and each key pair is unique. No other client will have the same key pair, so only you can claim the money sent to your Bitcoin address.

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And what if I changed computers and downloaded a new client? The string will be different again.
Rule #1 of using bitcoin: protect your wallet. If you lose it or overwrite it, all your money is lost to you. Kind of like losing your physical wallet. The wallet is the file wallet.dat.

And keep in mind that the address will change each time you accept money. The client can show you a list of all the Bitcoin addresses you have in your wallet.

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April 15, 2011, 01:47:40 PM
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Question is, how does the system know that long string of characters is tied to me? I didn't sign up for an account, so there is no username and password to tied that string to me.
And what if I changed computers and downloaded a new client? The string will be different again.

That string is actually tied to a file called wallet.dat on your hard-drive, and you can think of your bitcoins as being stored on that file. If you need to use them from a different computer, you have to copy that file to the new computer. You have to be careful not to expose this file to other people though, because anybody who can access it will also have the ability to steal your coins.
And where would I find wallet.dat file? I looked in the bitcoin-0.3.20.2-win32 folder and subfolders, it is not there.
Essentially, I could have multiple wallets? And be able to use bitcoin from each as long as I have the wallet.dat file?

I've also read somewhere that there is a website where I can sign up for an account, and they will help keep my bitcoins, thus eliminating the need for me to keep wallet.dat file? I forgot what is the web address.

Trading MtGox USD for Dwolla/ACH deposit/Chase cash deposit
https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=90115.0
Buy/Sell Call/Put Bitcoin options https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=99853.0
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April 15, 2011, 02:29:54 PM
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In windows I think if you run: %appdata%  you will get to it.

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chungenhung
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April 15, 2011, 05:33:25 PM
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In windows I think if you run: %appdata%  you will get to it.
Great, found it. Thanks.

Trading MtGox USD for Dwolla/ACH deposit/Chase cash deposit
https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=90115.0
Buy/Sell Call/Put Bitcoin options https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=99853.0
trabber
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April 15, 2011, 10:35:39 PM
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So it would prob be a good idea to copy this file on a usb stick in case my computers crashes?

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April 16, 2011, 01:15:43 AM
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So it would prob be a good idea to copy this file on a usb stick in case my computers crashes?

Yes. You should also update it every once in a while. Once per month is probably enough for most users.

Make sure no one can access the USB stick, though, or they will be able to steal your bitcoins.

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April 16, 2011, 11:02:24 PM
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Can you put all the transaction strings be combined i to one? If i recieved 50x 1btc payments can i delete all keyes and get a single 50btc key string?
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April 22, 2011, 01:45:46 AM
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Can you put all the transaction strings be combined i to one? If i recieved 50x 1btc payments can i delete all keyes and get a single 50btc key string?
You'd have to send yourself a single 50BTC transaction.

But it's not really necessary, since the software can automatically lump together whatever keys it needs to make a payment.

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