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Having read thousands of Bitcoin threads/questions on Reddit, there's constant references to "your 12/24 words" or "seed words".

They never once refer to wallet.dat.

I have used Bitcoin Core for eons, and to me, the wallet.dat is the thing to keep and secure. Not some "words".

Is this "seed words" stuff something that only applies to other wallets? But even if such is the case, why do they never, ever question or explain this when it's brought up? I'm starting to wonder if my Bitcoin Core is supposed to have a menu item called "View seed words" or something along those lines.

Does Bitcoin Core have "seed words" which I should also back up just in case I somehow nuke all my backups of my wallet.dat file and/or forget the encryption passphrase for it? If not, why do they keep referring to these? Are even people discussing Bitcoin in depth online not using Bitcoin Core?

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Bitcoin Core does not support BIP39, or any other seed word standard. You are correct that this implies backing up wallet.dat and keeping it safe directly. This is a good idea in any case, even if there were a seed phrase, as the seed only helps recover the keys, but not information such as labels you may have assigned to transactions, or unconfirmed transactions.

Many other wallets do support BIP39 or other seed phrase standards. Some of these are very popular. I can't tell you why common advice seems to ignore wallets like Bitcoin Core that don't have these. Presumably, in terms of actual non-professional usage, such wallets are a minority.

The primary reason for Bitcoin Core's wallet not supporting seed phrases is simplify because it predates such standards, evolves slowly (by being conservative about many changes), and until recently, introducing a feature for recovery from a seed would have been very complicated. This may well change at some point in the future.

Internally, the wallet.dat file does use a BIP32 seed to generate keys from, but this seed is not something that takes the form of a phrase; it is simply 32 random bytes that are stored in the wallet file (in encrypted form if the wallet is password encrypted).

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A memonic seed is used to generate addresses used for Bitcoin, your wallet.dat generated in your config is basically that

For example, a memonic seed phrase would be 24 words that look like:

suffer adapt adult also depart ect. Ect. Ect

You can generate your own and play with it at https://iancoleman.io/bip39/ it uses the bip39 format and explains everything

Hope it helps!

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  • Bitcoin Core does not use BIP39 at all (for now). Sep 11 at 21:22
  • Of course, it uses its own format but I'm just explaining what those seed phrases are for, Sep 11 at 21:25
  • I understand what you're saying, but I think it's besides the point. OP isn't asking what seed phrases are, but wondering why the common advice is to talk about seed phrase while Bitcoin Core apparently doesn't have any (and indeed, doesn't). Sep 11 at 21:27

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