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You May Have a Fortune on Your Hard Drive: Recovering Lost Bitcoin

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There’s Gold In Them Hills, and Bitcoin On Your Hard Drive, Maybe

A story published by The Guardian is sweeping the Internet today. It’s about a Norwegian man who found 5,000 Bitcoin in 2009 for $27, and forgot about them until this year only to discover that they are now worth over $800,000.

“Kristoffer Koch invested 150 kroner ($26.60) in 5,000 bitcoins in 2009, after discovering them during the course of writing a thesis on encryption,” explained the Guardian. “He promptly forgot about them until widespread media coverage of the anonymous, decentralised, peer-to-peer digital currency in April 2013 jogged his memory.”

Koch bought an apartment in Toyen with his newfound money.

Recover Bitcoin

Losing Bitcoins is Not Uncommon

It turns out that losing Bitcoins is not an uncommon circumstance. Many of the early adopters started mining or trading for Bitcoin back in 2009 and 2010 when the currency had little value. They did not look at Bitcoin as an investment, but rather a social experiment.

One man, in May 2010, offered to pay 10,000 BTC to someone to deliver a pizza to him. That sum is now worth over $2,000,000.

Bitcoin Stories Million-Dollar Pizza

In the early days of Bitcoin, there were no cloud wallets. Bitcoiners used client software that would generate or accept bitcoins and save them into a file on the computer. Imagine the scenarios in which these bitcoins can be lost: file corruption, hard drive crashing, or just disposing an old computer.

One user on a Reddit forum compared his experience to the Norwegian man, “This happened to me but I only walked away with $25k. Still felt like winning the showcase on the Price is Right. I was cleaning up my important folder on one of my hard drives and came across the wallet.dat file.”

How to Recover Lost Bitcoins

The first step in protecting your Bitcoin investment is proper backup. You can use a Bitcoin cloud wallet to store your money or just use regular file backup solutions.

Second, if you think you used Bitcoin in the early days with a client program, search your hard drive for a file named “wallet.dat.”

Finally, if you do have bitcoins stored on your computer and your hard drive gets corrupted, then here is a list of free software to help you recover what might be a small fortune.

  • TestDisk (Windows/Mac/Linux) – multi-platform, command-line only
  • PhotoRec (Windows/Mac/Linux) – companion to TestDisk, not just for photos
  • Undelete Plus (Windows) – used to be paid, now free, Windows only
  • Recuva (Windows) – user-friendly, Windows only
  • Restoration (Windows) – tiny program, Windows only

Happy hunting!

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