Let's say I make an offline wallet from a live cd with bitcoins-qt. I make some addresses (10 pcs.) I encrypt the wallet. Save it on a usb (wallet.dat). I then send over some bitcoins to one of my newly made ​​addresses.

Then I run my normal OS (online) and install bitcoins-qt, download the whole block chain. Closes bitcoins-qt. Replaces wallet.dat with my encrypted wallet.dat Starts bitcoins-qt.

Can I see the balance of my addresses, without decrypting the wallet? Is it once I'll send them as I have to decrypt it?

If this works ... Can I in any way try to decrypt the same wallet offline (without the block chain?) To ensure that I can access it, the day I'll send my bitcoins?

Is there a security risk with going online with my wallet.dat if I never decrypts it online?

Edit: I know that I can see my balance online without the private key. But I can't think of any other way to make 100% sure I can access my bitcoins in the future? 1.First I make sure that my wallet.dat is working and does have my adresses and the correct amount of bitcoins. (without decrypting it). 2.Then I go offline and make sure I can decrypt the exact same wallet.dat

Is this possible?

3 Answers 3


If you just want to check if your wallet/password is working, you can do so using the bigcoin-qt debug window. To open the window, select "Help" from the menu bar, and then "Debug Window". Once you open the debug window, you can type this:

walletpassphrase "your walletpassphrase here" 600

to unlock your wallet. If the command completes without an error, you wallet has been decrypted successfully. If you get an error, your wallet couldn't be decrypted. From that same console, you can type this:


to see the addresses stored in the wallet. When you are finished, type this:


to lock the wallet. You do not need to be on the internet to do this, so you could do it from your live cd. I also believe you can do this without having downloaded the block chain, but I haven't tested it so I'm not 100% sure. Additionally, the commands available from the debug window are listed here if there are other things you would like to check.

  • Thanks. But then I type the "listaddressgroupings" I get nothing. Just [] and nothing more? Commented Dec 4, 2013 at 7:42
  • Try using this then listreceivedbyaddress 0 true Commented Dec 4, 2013 at 16:36

You can see your balance on blockchain.info without having access to the private key

EDIT: I think Armory has feature called a "watching address" that lets you have addresses in your wallet that cannot be spent

  • I know that. But I want to make sure that my wallet.dat working properly because I do not plan to use it in a few years. I want to know (online) that I can import it (wallet.dat) and see my addresses and the correct number of bitcoins at these addresses. I would then try to decrypt the same wallet.dat (offline). That way, I am 100% sure that everything is as it should. Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 19:07
  • Look at just using a private key. This way you only need to keep 256 bits of data safe rather than an entire wallet file
    – John
    Commented Dec 4, 2013 at 19:30

I think you're trying to over complicate the problem by using a bitcoin qt wallet file.

If the purpose of this is for long term cold storage and to ensure in the future you can still access your funds, you should look into storing just the private key.

A private key can be stored in just 64 hexadecimal characters, short enough to be engraved in stone, steel or some other (semi) permanent medium.

Once you have a 64 character hex private key, it's a simple process using the brainwallet code on an offline computer to convert the key to a public bitcoin address. Brainwallet can also sign transactions offline if you provide it with the list of unspent transactions.

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