I have a bitcoin wallet. There is not much money in it, and I do not want to run bitcoin-qt all the time.

I have a question. If I save it securely, so I can recover it at any time, but do not run it actively with bitcoin-qt, does the wallet go stale?

In other words, if, hypothetically, I have my wallet.dat safely in a file but without any software actively running it, will I be able to reinstall bitcoin-qt after an arbitrarily long period of time, read wallet.dat, and use the money stored in it?

Or will it somehow be completely out of sync?



There is no expiration date for when an output can be spent.


After reading several good (and a couple of useless) pages, I understand what the issue is. Yes, if I back up a wallet and never do anything with it, I will be fine.

However, if I back up a wallet and CONTINUE TO USE IT, after a while the backup wallet will be useless if a hard drive crashes and I lose my active wallet. The old backed up wallet would have zero balance.

That was the concern that I was recalling. It does not apply to a wallet that is saved and not used.

  • I believe that what you are saying about bitcoin-core wallets is no longer true from version v0.13.0 which implements hd wallets. Specifically, if you create a new wallet (with version v0.13.0 or above) then encrypt it (you want to), then backup the wallet file, you can keep using the wallet as much as you want (without creating new backup) and the backed up file will still allow you to recover all your past transactions and private keys (it will not have a balance of zero). – Sven Williamson Jan 2 '17 at 16:09
  • Thanks. I appreciate that and it is good news. What if the wallet was created before 13.0, but used all along and now is used with v0.13.1.0-g03422e5? – Igor Chudov Jan 2 '17 at 16:26
  • Your current wallet is not an hd wallet so you are exposed to your back up file not having all keys in it after a while. The best thing to do is create a new wallet under v0.13.1 (simply restart bitcoin-qt having removed the wallet.dat file), then encrypt this new wallet, and make a back up of it. Then write down a bitcoin address for this new wallet. Then close down bitcoin-qt and restart it with the old wallet.dat file and transfer all bitcoins to the new address. – Sven Williamson Jan 2 '17 at 17:29
  • Thanks a lot. I did exactly what you suggested, created a new wallet, transferred the money, and and backed up the new wallet. (encrypted of course). I appreciate your thoughtful advice. – Igor Chudov Jan 2 '17 at 20:27

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