I have all my old computers and have the hard drives, so how do I systematically go back finding which on has my bitcoins? At the time, I figured it was no big deal, but now finding the correct one, could be worth while.

So my question is, how to I search my hard drives to find the one that contains the bitcoins? Is there a file I need to search for?

  • What year would you have received the coins? There are many ways to store bitcoins (private keys). A timeline would be useful in answering your question. – chytrik Sep 24 '18 at 18:37
  • It would of been in the 2005-2011 time frame. I thought it was a waste of my time, but back then, I was into everything that promised money... I found 2011 emails on my current account saying they were a waste of time, so back in 2011, I thought they were junk... – Mark Jaske Sep 24 '18 at 18:49
  • My emails even suggest I would give them away, as I didn't really care, if anyone wanted them, but that email chain runs dry, which means I have some, somewhere.... – Mark Jaske Sep 24 '18 at 18:51
  • So they had to me obtained in 2011 or before, so I'm assuming they might me worth something, The question, is can I search the hard drives for a certain file? – Mark Jaske Sep 24 '18 at 18:57
  • Take a look at the question I just marked this as duplicate of. Most wallets use a 'wallet.dat' file, but there are many ways to store bitcoins using local software (eg bitcoin-core or electrum), physical mediums (paper wallets), third party services (eg blockchain.info), etc. Its probably best to approach your treasure hunt with a wide scope. Best of luck! – chytrik Sep 24 '18 at 19:00

It depends on the version you were running, and the operating system, and when you say you are looking for your bitcoins, what you are really looking for are the private keys.

Bitcoin Core

The keys are in a file called wallet.dat which was stored in the bitcoin core data directory, which I'll call <data-dir>. The wallet.dat file was stored in <data-dir>/ on versions prior to v0.16.0 and moved to <data-dir>/wallets in later versions, see files.md. This uses the bitkeys format.

On linux, the data directory <data-dir> is ~/.bitcoin/wallets/wallet.dat

On Windows, the data directory <data-dir> is %APPDATA%\Bitcoin\wallet.dat

On Mac, the data directory <data-dir> is ~/Library/Application Support/Bitcoin/

Reference: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Data_directory#Mac

The next question is "How do I restore the keys?", and there are many answers for that already, example: Import wallet.dat into a new Bitcoin-Qt client

  • Note: there are many ways to store private keys, this answer assumes you were running the bitcoin-core full node software and wallet. Searching for ‘wallet.dat’ is nonetheless a good starting point in almost any case I’m sure. – chytrik Sep 24 '18 at 18:36
  • Ok, the question next, is when I find Wallet.dat, then how do I take that to cash in? – Mark Jaske Sep 24 '18 at 19:05
  • @MarkJaske That's a different question (i.e. probably not suitable for the comments section). You need to select a wallet, import your keys, and then sell them either in person or on an exchange. – JBaczuk Sep 24 '18 at 21:22

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