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I've just encrypted my wallet.dat file using the "Settings -> Encrypt Wallet" menu option.

I then closed the client and re-opened it.

I was expecting to be prompted to put in the wallet password once I reopened the client.

I was asked for no password. I don't understand, what is the point of my having set up a wallet password if I can just use it without unlocking?

2

When you encrypt the wallet, only the private keys are actually being encrypted. You will be prompted to enter your encryption passphrase when the private keys are needed.

Public keys in the keypool, transaction information, and other metadata remain unencrypted because they are either public information or have no effect on the security of your Bitcoin. This means that you will be able to get new addresses (they come from precomputed public keys in the keypool) and receive transactions. It is only when you try to spend any of your Bitcoin or when the keypool runs out that you will need to enter your passphrase.


It is actually safer to prompt for the passphrase when needed because then the actually important things that are encrypted (i.e. the private keys) are unencrypted in memory for as little time as possible. This reduces the risk of them being exposed.

  • so I'll be asked for them when, for instance, I make transactions? – Felipe Aug 24 at 21:14
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    I updated my answer. You will need the passphrase when you try to send Bitcoin or when the keypool runs out. – Andrew Chow Aug 24 at 21:15

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