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After reading about all the hacks I created a passphrase that I cant remember.

  1. Are Coins lost forever in the blockchain?

  2. There must be a lot of coins in this state… Is there any way to see what coins are active?

  3. Trying to retrieve these coins via the public key would break the security of the whole network??

  4. If I know 80-90% of what the passphrase is… Is there a piece of software that can brute force attack using my knowledge of the passphrase as a educated library attack??

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1 and 3) Yes. 2 and 4) Don't know. –  aland Dec 22 '12 at 11:17
    
There are various clients that work different ways. Are you describing the passphrase used for encrypting the bitcoin.org wallet? –  Stephen Gornick Dec 22 '12 at 17:54
    
Yes it is the passphrase to encrypt the standard client –  BitCoin New Guy Dec 22 '12 at 22:20
    
Related question: bitcoin.stackexchange.com/questions/3313/… –  Stéphane Gimenez Jan 20 at 9:21

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you have encrypted your Bitcoin.org wallet with a passphrase, then only having that passphrase will allow that to be decrypted.

If you have a backup of your wallet prior to performing the encryption step, then any coins from that wallet that still have not been spent can be recovered.

Otherwise, without that passphase to open the wallet you cant get to the private keys inside the wallet, and thus cannot spend those funds.

There is no difference between "lost coins" and "unspent" coins, so no there are nothing more than anecdotal evidence as to how many coins have been lost.

There are ways to try to recover your wallet based on hints about what you remember about your passphrase.

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I supose we could use the librarys/API to write a program –  BitCoin New Guy Dec 22 '12 at 22:22
    
The source is here: bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=85495.msg942171#msg942171 But that is probably not something the typical user would use. They might use a service that tried to crack it. –  Stephen Gornick Dec 23 '12 at 23:33

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