back in 2012 I've acquired a small amount of bitcoins, which as far as I remember I saved in a wallet on instantwallet. I wasn't following what was happening with the bitcoin until I listened lately about its value. I also found out that instawallet does not exist anymore since it was hacked in 2014.

Apart from a URL on instawallet, I have a Bitcoin address and some kind of a private key. Could somenone please tell me for sure if there is any chance to recover my bitcoins or should I just forget it?

1 Answer 1


Recovery using a private key

If your private key looks like a proper Bitcoin private key, you can recover control over your money.

A private key is just a large number. There are several different ways of representing that number.

Representation Example
Hexadecimal E9873D79C6D87DC0FB6A5778633389F4453213303DA61F20BD67FC233AA33262
Base58 WIF 5Kb8kLf9zgWQnogidDA76MzPL6TsZZY36hWXMssSzNydYXYB9KF
Mini private key SzavMBLoXU6kDrqtUVmffv

(Don't use these values they are just examples)

Note the specific lengths and the specific mixtures of characters. I think WIF normally starts with a "5". Your private key needs to match these characteristics.

Wallet Import Format (WIF) is probably the most useful.

You should be able to choose a wallet and "import" or "sweep" your private key. Sweeping is considered safer because it works better with normal backups and recovery-phrases of the new wallet.


If you used Instawallet, it seems unlikely that you have a true private key.

See https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Instawallet

Instawallet's service learned that its security was compromised and on April 3rd, 2013 closed the service. Those with funds in their Instawallet can file a claim form to get their funds.

This sort of issue is why custodial wallets are inadvisable for long term storage.

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