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I'm running bitcoind (086) on a dedicated linux machine with about 35Gb of disk space. Earlier today I discovered the machine ran out of space (blockchain was 33 gigs) and proceeded to delete the whole directory. Now all bitcoins in the wallet are missing, balance shows 0, although I did back up and restore the wallet.dat file.

Is it normal for the blockchain to grow to that size?

Is there another way to clean it up periodically, say, via a cron job?

Should I keep hoping that the missing coins will return to the wallet somehow, maybe after it downloads the blockchain again?

TIA!

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Should I keep hoping that the missing coins will return to the wallet somehow, >maybe after it downloads the blockchain again?

No, they will not return, since you deleted the whole directory, particularly your wallet.dat. You may recover the previous wallet by copying the original wallet.dat to the directory with current wallet.dat, followed by running this command:

bitcoind -rescan 

This will scan the balance for wallet.dat that is stored in Bitcoin data directory, on inlux ~/.bitcoin/

EDIT: from (Nate Eldredge) -rescan would only work after downloading the whole blockchain.

Is it normal for the blockchain to grow to that size?

Yes, bitcoin blockchain grows exponentionaly as the amount of transactions still increases, https://blockchain.info/charts/blocks-size. However there are some light-weight clients that require just few MB of disk space. Keep in mind that these depend on 3rd party servers that provide you with information about unspent transaction and your balance, look for Multibit or Electrum.

  • -rescan will only work after the block chain has been downloaded again, and at that point it may not be necessary. – Nate Eldredge Feb 2 '15 at 15:45
  • Thank you Marek and Nate. I will add some more space to this machine. – Nick M Feb 2 '15 at 15:59
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The blockchain is around 30 gigabytes. Unfortunately, if you want to use a full node client like bitcoind, you need all of that data. It's possible to prune the blockchain to just the unspent transactions, but the core devs have not implemented this yet on bitcoind. So no, you can't reduce the blockchain size as you need all of that data for a properly running bitcoind.

There are alternatives like electrum which use something called SPV to make the footprint of the application much smaller. This does require that you trust electrum servers, but it's very hard to fake that data, so it's fairly safe.

  • Can't use electrum, it doesn't seem to offer a RPC API. Sorry I forgot to mention that bit. – Nick M Feb 2 '15 at 15:55
  • Weird, all the SPV wallets don't seem to have an RPC API. You can use stratum protocol to talk to electrum servers. – Jimmy Song Feb 2 '15 at 16:01

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