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I used to be interested in Bitcoin a few years ago and have recently become aware of it again. I used to have a wallet back then. Given that many years have passed, what I remember is a bit fuzzy. What can I do if…

  1. I don't remember which service I used
  2. my wallet service shut down
  3. I lost access to my wallet service account
  4. I removed the wallet from my computer or phone and have no backup
  5. I had a wallet, and still have the device that it was installed on

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I had an account on a website, but don't remember which one

Search your email account for an account creation confirmation email. Helpful search terms may include "bitcoin", "wallet", "exchange", "btc", "blockchain", or "cryptocurrency". If you purchased bitcoins, you may want to look at your old bank statements as well. There is no global register of bitcoin users or services, so if you cannot find anything you may be out of luck—we cannot help you, because we don't know either.

I had a web wallet, but the service shut down since

If the service had custody of your bitcoin balance, it is likely lost. Research the name of the service to determine what happened to the service, in case it just rebranded and is still around.

My wallet service still exists, but I lost access

We don't have insight into your customer relationship with services, so we cannot help you. Contact the service and initiate an account recovery process.

I had a self-custodial wallet, have lost the wallet, and have no backup

Bitcoin balances are tracked via the blockchain, and a user's bitcoin wallet primary purpose is to secure the private keys which are used to establish ownership and to track any transactions related to those keys. The key space is enormous. If you have lost your wallet, the same keys will likely never be regenerated and no one will ever be able to spend the associated funds.

I had a self-custodial wallet, and still have the device that it was installed on

Looking over this selection of wallets may help you remember which one you used. If you still have the wallet files, you may be able to recover your funds. The name of the relevant files depends on the software that you used, but one of the most common file names is wallet.dat. If you find a wallet file, create a backup first before trying to recover the wallet.

I have a 12 or 24 word backup, what do I do?

This is called a mnemonic seed phrase. It is a standardized way to backup a wallet's private keys. Keep the words confidential, do not enter the words in a website or untrustworthy software. You should be able to recover your wallet from the phrase. You can find instructions how to recover the wallet from it on this site.

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