Help me find my bitcoin!
January 4, 2017 8:12 PM   Subscribe

I have a bitcoin "wallet backup" from a couple years ago, but I don't know how to re-import this into a bitcoin client.

So a couple of years ago, I bought some bitcoin fairly cheaply. I ended up transferring this into... some kind of bitcoin wallet (I can't remember which app), on either my phone or tablet.
I then made a "backup" of this wallet, foolishly thinking that this was some kind of standardized format that would be easy to restore later, and forgot about it for a while. Now that I want to restore this (since my coins are considerably more valuable right now!), I am discovering that this does not seem to be the case.
Does anyone know what tool I can use either to import this into a client, or transfer the coins to another bitcoin address? I have the backup file, but I don't know what wallet software originally created it, and the phone & tablet that could have created it are dead.
I wasn't counting on not losing money when I bought the coin, but it would be neat to get it back...
posted by anotherthink to Technology (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know the answer, and I'm sure we need a little more info to even start guessing:

Is there a file extension on the backup wallet file? What platform (Android/iOS/WinPhone/Blackberry?) were you using when you were running a wallet client?
posted by Sunburnt at 9:23 PM on January 4, 2017

If it's a standard bitcoin wallet, if you open it in a text editor you will see "1b" or "b1" as some of the first characters in the file. Opening it in a text editor might be a good start anyway as there may be a readable string in there that will tell you the program that created it (make a copy before you open it and don't save from the text editor or it will corrupt the file).

If you do find addresses in there, the public address will start with 1 e.g. 1GfJ1dz36MtfAkKX2g5srJbioFRD2udUc4 and the private key will start with 5, K, or L e.g. KwDsoRg1wmjNV3PnGwvYjGASDsLAHoct7T48TGECg17NSgdNbqSL .

Depending on what operating system you use you might be able to use the "file" command to see what format that thinks it is in (e.g on a mac )

I'd be happy to take a look at the file, but I'm just a random internet stranger who might steal your bitcoins so you should only give the file to someone you trust.
posted by samj at 12:28 AM on January 5, 2017

Also before opening it up in text editor make a copy of the file you don't mess with. Yes, please provide file extension as requested and im sure we can figure this out.
posted by chasles at 4:40 AM on January 5, 2017

Unfortunately I didn't save the wallet with a file extension!
This was created on an android phone/tablet.
The "file" command claims it's ASCII text. There are no human-readable strings in it though. It starts with "U2FsdG"... perhaps it's encrypted, in which case I'm probably out of luck :/
posted by anotherthink at 8:36 AM on January 5, 2017

That helps - I think it is a backup from this app. You would have specified a password when making the backup - without the password it will be difficult to recover.
posted by samj at 9:03 AM on January 5, 2017

"U2FsdG" is base64 for "Salt". Try base64-decoding the whole thing. I'm pretty confident that you can recover your Bitcoin.
posted by anb at 11:03 PM on January 5, 2017

hooray!! that led me to this, and I was able to guess my password and retrieve my coin with that method! thanks so much :)
posted by anotherthink at 7:30 AM on January 6, 2017

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