How can I figure out where I created my Bitcoin wallet?
At Crypto Asset Recovery, we often hear the question “I created a Bitcoin account back in 2014, but I’m not sure where my wallet is. Can you help me find it?”
In general, we can’t find it for you. We would need access to too many of your accounts (email, dropbox, etc) and possibly your computers themselves.
But, that said, with a little legwork there’s a good chance you can find the account yourself. Then, if you still need help recovering your password, contact us.
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How do you figure out what service you used to create your bitcoin wallet?
As you might guess, tracking down a service that you used three or four years ago (let alone 10 or 12!) has the potential to be complicated. However, there are a couple of easy steps that you should take first. If you’re lucky, one of these will work.
If these don’t work, keep reading.
Blockchain.info (now known as Blockchain.com) was one of the most popular early wallet providers. So, if you have no idea what service you might have used this is a good place to start. Here are two quick ways to check whether you created an account on Blockchain:
- Search your email for a message with the subject line: Welcome to My Wallet. If you find such a message, then you created an account on Blockchain, and your Wallet ID will be included in the email.
- If that doesn’t work, you can take the following steps:
- Open your web browser and go to: https://blockchain.info/wallet/#/login
- It’s possible, but unlikely that your wallet id will be displayed in the “Wallet ID” field of the login form
- Click on “View Options” in the lower right-hand corner of the login form
- Look for the option that says “I’ve lost my Wallet ID: Email me a reminder with my Wallet ID to my email address”
- Click “Remind Me” next to that option
- Enter the email address you used to create the wallet, fill out the “captcha” and submit the form
- If you correctly identified the email address that you used to create your wallet, then Blockchain.info should email you the Wallet ID within a few minutes.
If those two steps didn’t work, there are three other possibilities:
- You used a different email address than the one you checked, in which case you can run the same tests on those other email addresses.
- You used a different wallet.
- If you lost control of your email address for a while (perhaps the email provider closed it because you didn’t login for a year or two?) then there’s another possibility — but you need to contact us).
Take a Few Minutes to Get Organized
If those first, simple checks didn’t work then it’s probably worth taking a few minutes to get organized. Here is the initial research that we recommend:
- Get a good estimate of when you acquired the missing cryptocurrency.
- Might the purchase be mentioned on a bank or credit card statement?
- Create a list of all the email addresses you might have used during that time, and see if you can get access to those email accounts
- Do you have a place (ex: a safe or a safe deposit box) where you might have stored printouts with passwords, paper wallets, security phrases, etc? Check to see what backup information you might have.
- Think through the physical computers that you might have used. Which of those do you still have access to?
Start with Email
Many online wallets and exchanges will send a welcome email when you first register an account.
First, figure out which email accounts you might have used to create the wallet.
Next, go through each of those email accounts and search for “Welcome” emails from the following services:
The following services have been reported to be defunct. If your coin was stored on one of these services it is most likely lost, as they all appear to have shut down after suffering from crippling thefts:
- 37coins (live from Dec 2013 to Aug 2015)
- Bitcoinica (live from Sep 2011 to Aug 2012)
- Bitfloor (live from 2011 to Apr 2013)
- Cryptoxchange (live from Nov 2011 to Nov 2012)
- Instawallet (live from Apr 2011 to Apr 2013)
- Mt Gox (live from Jul 2010 to Feb 2014)
- MyBitcoin (live from 2010 to Jul 2011)
The following wallets were relatively gracefully shut down, meaning that they transitioned their code to another party, gave users warning, and then stopped updating their code:
- Multibit (launched in April 2011 and closed in July 2017)
- Copay (launched in Oct. 2016 and closed in late 2017)
The following wallets can be considered at least partially “online” wallets, although many have mobile and /or desktop versions too:
- Bitcoin.com (launched mid-2017)
- BitGo.com (launched 2015)
- Bittrex.com (launched in Feb. 2014)
- Blockchain.info (launched in Aug. 2011)
- Coinbase.com (launched in Oct. 2012)
- Cryptonator (launched in 2014)
- Green Address (launched in April 2014)
- Jaxx (launched in 2014)
- Kraken.com (launched in July 2011)
- Mycelium (launched in Sep 2013)
- StrongCoin.com (launched in Oct 2011)
- Xapo (launched to the public in March 2014)
The following are desktop and mobile-only wallets:
- Airbitz.co (launched in Oct. 2014)
- Armory (launched Jan. 2012)
- Bitcoin Core (released by Satoshi Nakamoto in January 2009)
- Bitcoin Knots
- Bread Wallet (launched in 2014)
- Coins.ph (launched in 2014)
- Electrum (launched Nov 2011)
- Exodus (launched in July 2016)
The following are Paper Wallets:
12 or 24-word Recovery Phrases
The BIP39 standard for 12- and 24-word recovery phrases (also called recovery seeds, mnemonics and mnemonic phrases) was adopted by a number of wallets starting in 2013. If you first created your wallet in 2013 or later, it’s quite possible that your backup for the wallet is simply a 12- or 24-word phrase.
This phrase might look like this:
false resemble seminar wagon excuse holiday fragile bargain leader trip source dutch
BTW: with a few very specific exceptions, a 12-word recovery phrase tells you nothing about the wallet used to generate the phrase. This could be a phrase generated by a wallet that can manage Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc. Most modern wallets use BIP39-compliant 12- or 24-word recovery phrases.
Search your Hard Drive
Are you still using the same computer that you used at the time you created the wallet? If so, it’s possible that you saved a backup of the wallet to your computer.
Here are some typical filenames / extensions for wallet backups:
- *.key or *.wallet (Multibit Classic wallets)
- mbhd.wallet.aes (Multibit HD wallets)
- wallet.dat (for Bitcoin Core / Bitcoin-Qt and variants (such as Dogecoin Core)
- wallet.aes.json (for Blockchain.info / Blockchain.com wallets)
- -wallet (often: electrum.wallet — this is a backup for an Electrum wallet)
Did you have a Dropbox Account?
Might you have backed up your wallet to your Dropbox account? You can try searching for the aforementioned filenames / extensions on Dropbox.com.
There are many ways to back up your hard drive.
- Time Machine is a standard Mac application that you can configure to take “snap shots” of your hard drive. Do you have a Time Machine snap shot from the time you created your account?
- Apple sells an external hard drive called a Time Capsule — did you use this to backup your hard drive?
- There are many services, like Backblaze.com that will remotely back up your hard drive.
Check your Browser
There are at least two options here:
First, most modern browsers give you an option to “Manage Passwords”. If you created a new account and you asked your browser to remember your username and password then you may be able to find the name of the site (and potentially your username and password) in your browser’s password manager.
Second, if you created this service recently, perhaps your browser history has stored the domain name of the service that you used.
Frequently Asked Questions
If I know the address where I received Bitcoin can I figure out what service created that address?
The answer, unfortunately, is: No
A bitcoin address is derived from your private key. Your private key is a random 256-bit number. Every wallet uses the same process to derive a bitcoin address from a private key. Therefore, there’s no way to figure out where you created a wallet based on one of its bitcoin addresses.