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Author Topic: Lost bitcoins - horror stories, estimates, and predictions  (Read 2881 times)
Roger_Murdock
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July 08, 2012, 12:28:04 AM
 #1

21,000,000 is the theoretical limit for the number of bitcoins that will ever be in circulation.  But it's not the actual limit. Bitcoins have already been lost. As in lost forever. And more of them will be lost.  I'm wondering how often that occurs and how many coins have been lost.  And at what rate they will be lost in the future.  It seems logical to assume that the greatest loss period was when the currency was very new and not worth very much. How many people with brain wallets (and only brain wallets) are going to die with no one else knowing their code? How many people are going to forget their brain wallet code? How many people will have a hard drive crash without any kind of backup?  How many tiny balances have been given out to people through bitcoinfaucet (or similar sites) who will lose interest and not bother to maintain the records of those tiny balances?  Also does anyone have any horror stories of permanently losing large balances to share?  Any bleeding-edge early adopters who lost interest before bitcoin took off and didn't bother to secure their coins? Curious to hear your thoughts and stories. Thanks!

UPDATE: If this comment bothers you because you view it as a wasteful and unnecessary "copy" of previous threads on the subject of lost coins, try thinking of it instead as a "fork" that borrows heavily from past efforts but adds beneficial new features. In fact, my guess is that within 6 months this will be the definitive thread on lost coins.  If you hurry, your reply could be on page 1! Wink
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hazek
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July 08, 2012, 12:35:18 AM
 #2

The bitcoins lost are irrelevant to anything and everything.

Also consider using the search function before making a new thread.. It doesn't go a week by that someone doesn't start a thread on this exact topic, no exaggeration, others can confirm.

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July 08, 2012, 12:52:31 AM
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The bitcoins lost are irrelevant to anything and everything.

Also consider using the search function before making a new thread.. It doesn't go a week by that someone doesn't start a thread on this exact topic, no exaggeration, others can confirm.

They aren't irrelevant to the people who lost them.

This isn't one of those "OMG, people will lose coins and it will ruin Bitcoin" posts. He just wants to hear personal stories.

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Roger_Murdock
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July 08, 2012, 12:52:55 AM
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The bitcoins lost are irrelevant to anything and everything.

Er... except my curiosity. I understand that they're not a "problem" and are irrelevant from that perspective. But they will have an effect on the value of remaining non-lost coins.

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Also consider using the search function before making a new thread.. It doesn't go a week by that someone doesn't start a thread on this exact topic, no exaggeration, others can confirm.

Sorry if my post is duplicative. I actually did run a quick search but didn't see anything that addressed my specific interests.  
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July 08, 2012, 11:05:39 AM
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I have sent a few mili bits to people and had them lost, a friend of theirs deleted bitcoin spinner from the phone. My friend has around 25BTC in blockchain.info that I think he will be missing a password too for some reason.

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July 08, 2012, 12:48:30 PM
 #6

I was testing the layout of the 'Send Confirm' dialog in Multibit in various languages to check there was enough space. Russian is great for testing as the words are so long.

Anyhow I clicked on the Russian for send (отправлять) rather than cancel (отменить) and actually sent the bitcoin. Production network : not test.   

Oops.

Fortunately it was only 100 millis and the address was someone's donation address.

I put icons on the buttons so that I would not do it again.

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ensign_lee
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July 08, 2012, 04:28:03 PM
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I would bet by the time the last bitocin is mined, about 50% of the all bitcoins will have been lost forever to wallets nobody can access anymore.
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July 08, 2012, 04:42:56 PM
 #8

I would bet by the time the last bitocin is mined, about 50% of the all bitcoins will have been lost forever to wallets nobody can access anymore.

That is kind of an interesting thought. 

I've lost about .25BTC. I had a wallet on a virtual machine and had to restore it, but something happened (can't recall what exactly) and had some difficulties bringing it back up.  For some reason my balance was .25BTC less than it should have. 

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Stephen Gornick
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July 08, 2012, 04:48:13 PM
 #9

Curious to hear your thoughts and stories. Thanks!

Here's a thread including some reports of lost coins:

 - http://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=7253.0

And this is an interesting read:
 
 - http://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=26539.0

And, the three largest claims of lost / destroyed coins:

 - Bitomat.pl lost when wallet was on an Amazon EC2 instance with no permanent storage
 - Stefan Thomas' loss
 - Mt. Gox loss due to bug in custom code
 
 - http://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=83794.0

Roger_Murdock
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July 08, 2012, 07:18:30 PM
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Somewhat related question: is anybody relying on a brain wallet only and planning on taking their coins with them if they get hit by a bus?
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July 08, 2012, 09:26:28 PM
 #11

Also consider using the search function before making a new thread.. It doesn't go a week by that someone doesn't start a thread on this exact topic, no exaggeration, others can confirm.

The search function absolutely sucks - until that is remedied I think we're just stuck with people starting new threads about frequently asked questions.

All I can say is that this is Bitcoin. I don't believe it until I see six confirmations.
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July 08, 2012, 10:22:38 PM
 #12

Also consider using the search function before making a new thread.. It doesn't go a week by that someone doesn't start a thread on this exact topic, no exaggeration, others can confirm.

The search function absolutely sucks - until that is remedied I think we're just stuck with people starting new threads about frequently asked questions.
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repentance
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July 08, 2012, 11:06:25 PM
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site:bitcointalk.org <search string>

We should probably sticky that somewhere.  Most regulars of any messageboard know that you can search it through Google but newbies are often unaware of that.

All I can say is that this is Bitcoin. I don't believe it until I see six confirmations.
Raoul Duke
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July 08, 2012, 11:11:14 PM
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site:bitcointalk.org <search string>

We should probably sticky that somewhere.  Most regulars of any messageboard know that you can search it through Google but newbies are often unaware of that.

The search works fine. People are just lazy...

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July 08, 2012, 11:30:08 PM
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site:bitcointalk.org <search string>

We should probably sticky that somewhere.  Most regulars of any messageboard know that you can search it through Google but newbies are often unaware of that.

The search works fine. People are just lazy...

I think part of the problem is that people don't know that if you are in a subforum and search only that subforum is searched.

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Raoul Duke
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July 08, 2012, 11:54:37 PM
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site:bitcointalk.org <search string>

We should probably sticky that somewhere.  Most regulars of any messageboard know that you can search it through Google but newbies are often unaware of that.

The search works fine. People are just lazy...

I think part of the problem is that people don't know that if you are in a subforum and search only that subforum is searched.
Pressing the "Search" link on the header to take me to search page and choosing on which forums to search works pretty well for me.

garyrowe
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July 09, 2012, 12:07:40 PM
 #17

I thought I'd lost a few bitcoins when my Android phone died on me. Luckily I was able to recover them. As part of the learning exercise I thought I'd document how it was done to help the community: http://gary-rowe.com/agilestack/2011/12/28/how-to-recover-lost-bitcoins-from-an-android-wallet/

To be fair, though, Bitcoin as a protocol could operate with a single bitcoin and a lot of decimal places.

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July 09, 2012, 12:55:38 PM
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I thought I'd lost a few bitcoins when my Android phone died on me. Luckily I was able to recover them. As part of the learning exercise I thought I'd document how it was done to help the community: http://gary-rowe.com/agilestack/2011/12/28/how-to-recover-lost-bitcoins-from-an-android-wallet/

To be fair, though, Bitcoin as a protocol could operate with a single bitcoin and a lot of decimal places.
That's great man. Thanks for taking the time to document this.   Smiley

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July 09, 2012, 04:53:20 PM
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I was using blockchain.info, created an address, and did a withdraw to it from MtGox. Unfortunately, the address never synced, so now 0.007 BTC is gone for good Cry

I recommend asking me for a signature from my GPG key before doing a trade. I will NEVER deny such a request.
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