I am new to this and don't have any bitcoin yet, but I was wondering if I were ever to get any, will I have to have the client running in order to receive them?

Also what would happen if the client it not running at the time a bitcoin is sent to the address?

  • A friend of mine received Bitcoins for a transaction last year, and they were sent to him in a file. He is having a hard to locating the file. Mind you he did not have a wallet at the time. Does anyone know what that file might look like, or how to go about locating it? Thank you, Matt
    – user9744
    Dec 3, 2013 at 4:02
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    please post this as a new question, don't post questions as answers. See How to Ask for more information.
    – Murch
    Dec 3, 2013 at 9:56

2 Answers 2


No, you do not need to have the client running to receive payment on an existing address. Your transaction would go through because bitcoin transactions aren't contained on a local file, but a distributed ledger called the "blockchain."

You don't need to be logged in or anything to receive bitcoin. What's important is to keep your wallet file containing your bitcoin private keys secret and backed up, as without those, you have no access to the address with your bitcoin.

In fact, a lot of people, fearing their computers being compromised by hackers, actually advocate you store large amounts of bitcoin in a wallet that's generated offline and stored on an offline computer, USB flash drive, or piece of paper. This practice is called cold storage, and is a very good idea for large amounts of bitcoin you don't want to lose and have no intention to spend quickly. So, the paranoid strategy would be to never have your wallet online, believe it or not.

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    The first word of your answer should be "No".
    – Jannes
    Dec 1, 2013 at 15:16

Not necessarily. It depends to which address a person sent bitcoins. If someone sent them to your address that associated with online wallets (something like mtgox account) then you do not even need a bitcoin client. In fact a some of the people who are traiding online do not even have bitcoin wallet installed.

Otherwise you do need to have a client running. Moreover a client should be synchronized with the rest of the network (so if I sent you coins and you just downloaded a client and run it, you need to wait for some time till you will receive them).

Answering your second question, you do not need to run the client exactly at the time of sending. You can turn on the client in few days after the sending and when the client will synchronize everything, you will see your coins.

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    You don't need to have the client running to receive coins only to spend them.
    – Abdussamad
    Dec 1, 2013 at 12:02
  • @Abdussamad: Salvador just said so... Dec 1, 2013 at 19:33
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    @SalvadorDali your second paragraph is what I don't agree with. You never need the client running to receive coins period.
    – Abdussamad
    Dec 3, 2013 at 13:12
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    @SalvadorDali you don't receive anything. A wallet simply stores private keys necessary to spend coins. The coins themselves are simply hashes in the globally distributed ledger called the blockchain. When somebody sends you coins all he's doing is signing off ownership to a bitcoin address. The only person who can spend those coins is the one who has the private key behind that address i.e. you.
    – Abdussamad
    Dec 4, 2013 at 12:36
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    @SalvadorDali the thing is that if you deviate from the facts it has consequences. What if a user asks how can you receive money on a paper wallet when that thing isn't even online? So that is why you must not simplify for the sake of convenience when asked a specific question like this.
    – Abdussamad
    Dec 5, 2013 at 11:40

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