Have you lost your Bitcoin Core password? If so, you may find solace in knowing that you are not the only one: as much as 34 percent of bitcoins are sitting in dormant wallets. Many of these wallets belong to people who have lost their passwords.
If that's you, we can't guarantee that you can retrieve your Bitcoin -- but, there is hope.
This article focuses explicitly on crypto assets held in the Bitcoin-Qt / Bitcoin Core wallet. So, if you have lost your Bitcoin Core wallet password and want to know how you can recover it, read all the way to the end.
Because there are people who have held funds in the Bitcoin Core wallet for years and may not remember how they created the wallet, we will start this article by reminding you what a Bitcoin Core wallet is.
The Bitcoin Core Wallet
Bitcoin Core is the open-source software released initially by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. Initially, it was known as Bitcoin-Qt.
After it was established in 2009, Bitcoin Core was maintained by its creator Satoshi Nakamoto.
River Financial, reports that Satoshi left the maintenance of the software in the hands of several volunteers in late 2010.
Gavin Andresen led these volunteers. Bitnovo.com reports that substantial changes happened at Bitcoin Core under Andresen’s leadership. He rewrote more than half of the original code.
In the beginning, the wallet was only supported by the Windows operating system. However, today you can operate it on numerous operating systems, including ARM Linux systems, Ubuntu, Linux, and Mac OSX.
The Bitcoin Core wallet represents a full node of the blockchain network.
Bitcoin.org defines a full node network as “a program that fully validates transactions and blocks.” The same source continues, “Almost all full nodes also help the network by accepting transactions and blocks from other full nodes, validating those transactions and blocks, and then relaying them to further full nodes.”
According to Coinmarketcap.com, as a full node, the Bitcoin Core wallet is perceived to be "heavy": if you wanted to run it on your computer, you need to download the entire blockchain to your device.
Coinmarketcap.com also notes that because it takes a lot of resources, the Bitcoin Core wallet is designed “for serious crypto enthusiasts who want to support the community and are interested in the technical aspects of the network itself.”
Cointribune.com cites data collected in 2016, which showed that “almost 90% of miners used the Bitcoin Core client rather than an alternate software.”
The same publication notes that Bitcoin Core’s unique selling point is that it is the original and official client software, still used by many people today.
Reviewing the Bitcoin Core Wallet
William Carter of Wallets.com produced a detailed review of the Bitcoin Core wallet. Carter reports that “You can reach Bitcoin Core as a GIU (graphical user interface) or through CLI (command line interface). Having that in mind, the wallet is hard to hack.”
If this is excellent news to those who can still remember the passwords to their wallets and are glad that their funds are safe from hackers, it’s a different story if you have lost your wallet password and are pinning your hopes on hacking your way to your fortune.
Carter presents some pros and cons of using the Bitcoin Core wallet.
Let’s start with the pros:
Open source: it allows users to improve the software and suggest changes.
Full node: this makes the software extremely secure because users are always up-to-date about what is happening in the network.
Hierarchical deterministic: the software creates a tree of keys on the user’s behalf.
Support desk: because of an active community, issues and questions are rapidly resolved.
Now the cons:
Single-factor authentication: only one category of credentials is required to access the Bitcoin Core wallet.
Uses too many resources: because it is a full node, Bitcoin Core could use more than 200 GB of free disk space.
Slow Synchronization: considering the size of the BTC (Bitcoin) network, at least one week is required to fully sync the wallet so that you can use it.
If Carter seems to approve of the Bitcoin Core wallet, some users writing on CryptoCompare.com are not so impressed.
For instance, one user going by the name 29solarain alludes to the fact that the wallet consumes massive resources. The user writes, “This full node wallet is fine (of course, when it is launched on PC working 24/7 and online). But I am scared of 150 GB rapidly growing blockchain size; it gets bigger and bigger from day to day.”
However, a user calling themselves creeptopunk dismisses the bad reviews, reminding the complainers, “It is the wallet for Bitcoin.” The same user says, “It takes time to download the whole blockchain, but that is the point of Bitcoin in the first place, that you don’t need to trust anybody.”
Steps to Getting a Bitcoin Core Wallet
We hope that the information we provide in this article will assist you in remembering details that may get you closer to your lost Bitcoin Core password. Below, we focus on the steps you took to create your Bitcoin Core wallet.
A YouTube channel, BitCanics, has produced a comprehensive Bitcoin Core Wallet tutorial that provides a step-by-step process for creating the wallet. We summarize the steps below and illustrate them with screenshots.
Before you create a wallet, here are some prerequisites noted by Cointribune.com:
A computer with sufficient storage capacity (200 to 250 GB).
The computer should be protected by antivirus software.
Your internet connection should have good speeds and no data restrictions.
External storage devices to back up the wallet.
Start at Bitcoin.org
It's important to remember that the website is Bitcoin.org and not Bitcoin.com.
At Bitcoin.org, you will start by selecting what you want to do. Your choices are presented in the screenshot below, and more detail is provided under it.
Get started with Bitcoin
If you click on the ‘Get started with Bitcoin’ button, you get the essential information about using Bitcoin. Specific details include advice on a few things you need to know before getting bitcoin to avoid common mistakes.
The same page provides information about how to choose a wallet, get bitcoin, and spend bitcoin.
Choose your Wallet
Under this button, you choose whether you want the site to help you find a wallet. If you want to, you then move to the page that asks you a few questions. However, since you already know you want the Bitcoin Core wallet, you click on ‘Skip helper,' and the system takes you to a page where you select your operating system.
Click your operating system under ‘Desktop,' and you will see the Bitcoin Core wallet listed among other wallets. Click 'Bitcoin Core,' and you then get to the page captured in the screenshot below, where you click on the ‘Install’ button to start installing the software onto your device.
When you install the wallet, the system is going to ask you a few questions:
Where do you want to install the wallet?
Where do you want to store the blockchain data?
The wallet will be saved on your device as a Wallet.dat file.
The Private Key
The wallet.dat file is one of two ways of backing up your Bitcoin Core wallet; the other one is a private key. A Quora.com user called Simpson Chapman shares a comprehensive post explaining how to use the private key technique.
Backing up Your Wallet
Once the Bitcoin Core wallet is installed on your device and you have followed the prompts to create the wallet, you will need to back it up on an external drive. When you back up the wallet, it saves as a wallet.dat file. You can optionally rename this file.
Backing up the wallet on the wallet.dat file ensures that if anything happens to your device and you can’t access your wallet, you can regain access your coins.
Regarding backing up your wallet, Bitcoin.org has some advice:
Back up the entire wallet because some wallets may have hidden private keys internally, and backing up only the visible keys will mean that you won’t be able to recover the wallet if you lose it.
Assign a password to your wallet.dat file. (This is also referred to as "encrypting" the file). Every computer connected to the internet is vulnerable to hackers and other unscrupulous entities.
Use many secure locations because if you don’t, your backup depends on a single location, and an event like a fire may destroy everything.
The BTC wallet.dat file is not encrypted by default, meaning that all an unscrupulous person needs is to access files on your computer for them to steal your accounts.
The good news is that the developers of Bitcoin Core have now added a feature that allows you to protect the wallet using a password. Therefore, anyone attempting to use the wallet without entering the password will not be able to send out any bitcoins. However, it also means that you will not be able to access your coins if you lose the password.
Never Forget Your Password
The advice from Bitcoin.org is simple: “never forget your password” because if you do, “your funds will be permanently lost.” However, you have read this far because you have lost your Bitcoin Core wallet password.
Bitcoin Core does not enforce any password requirements:
You are free to leave your wallet unencrypted, without a password
You can create a password that is only 1 character long
You can create a password that is 64 randomly generated characters long
Bitcoin Core gives you maximum flexibility -- but, it is certainly a best practice to create a long, randomly generated password, and to store that password carefully and safely.
If you have lost your password, you have three strategies to find it: looking everywhere you might have written it down, consider your own psychology, and seek outside help.
Looking Everywhere Possible
If you believe that you wrote down your password, then you may have it stored somewhere. This could be on an old diary, a piece of paper in your office, somewhere on an old computer, or an email you sent yourself.
Where do you keep important documents, like birth certificates and passports? Check to see if you stored your password there.
Do you have a safe at home? Could you have stored the password in your safe?
Do you have a file cabinet? Could you have stored your password in a file cabinet?
Could have have snapped a picture of your password with your phone? Even though we don't believe this technique is very secure, you could have done it. So look through old photos, include photo services like Google Photos or Dropbox.
Looking for a lost password this way will be a painstaking job, but it can be done. It’s vital to create a priority list of areas you should check, like old browsers, gadgets, diaries, and external drives.
Everyone has a pattern they follow when thinking about things like passwords. For instance, someone may create passwords based on places they have visited and the dates they visited such places.
To succeed, when using this method, it’s vital to take some time to look at your other passwords and then determine patterns. This will help you eliminate certain possibilities that could waste your time.
If everything has failed, it’s time to seek help. At Crypto Asset Recovery, we have assisted many people who found themselves on the brink of losing hope in getting their wallets back. With a copy of your wallet.dat file and the best guesses of your password, we can get the ball rolling, and you may soon be reunited with your wallet.
Crypto news and insights, delivered weekly
All the Latest on Crypto news, Wallet Security, and DeFi in 10 Minutes or Less