What happens to lost Bitcoins

What happens to lost Bitcoins? Since the “ownership” of bitcoins is essentially tied to having knowledge of the private key for the address they are stored against, it’s very difficult to prove that nobody knows the private key.

However, it is possible to send bitcoins to an address with no private key, essentially destroying them.

There is no accepted definition of a lost bitcoin that customers are aware of, and it’s unlikely there will be one because of the difficulty in providing proof. The network doesn’t know whether the private key for some bitcoins have been lost. The value is based on market demand. From this perspective, bitcoins that aren’t currently offered for sale are the same as lost coins until they are offered up for sale, at which point the price is affected. Though individuals do have the capability to prove they own bitcoins without offering them for sale, they rarely do so, so you’ll probably never be able to find out much about which unspent bitcoins are still being quietly held and which are lost.

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A “lost bitcoin” is any unspent BTC balance in an account for which the private key has been lost. Without the private key, that balance cannot be spent again. If you lose your wallet file, you are effectively losing all the private keys for the accounts (addresses) created by that wallet. It doesn’t mean that the balance cannot change, since the “lost” account can actually receive new funds (if funds are sent to its public address), but without the private key those funds will become equally inaccessible.

It’s impossible for the network to know when a private key was lost. A balance can remain unspent for a very long time, but it could be by the owner’s choice. So there is really no way to tell. No one can flag a wallet/account as lost, even the owner. This is because without the private key you cannot prove to be the owner anyway.

The Bitcoin price is simply a result of current demand/supply for it. You could say that the more lost coins, the less supply there is, so the prices will naturally rise, but that is simply a by-product of normal trading.

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Find my Bitcoin address

To manage your Bitcoins address, you must launch the Ledger Wallet Bitcoin Chrome application. If you didn’t install it yet, this is the way to do it: in your Chrome browser, firstly install the application from the website.

To find your Bitcoin address (required to receive a payment),

  1. Connect your Ledger device
  2. Enter your PIN code
  3. For Nano S and Blue only: Open the Bitcoin application on your device
  4. Launch your Bitcoin Chrome application on your computer
  5. Click on “Receive”, a popup opens
  6. Copy the “Bitcoin address” which is displayed

Please note that your Ledger wallet generates a new address each time you want to receive a payment, thanks to the Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) support. Each address generated by your wallet is yours forever, you can use them several times or just once at your convenience, it won’t cause problems – even if it may be safer to use each address only once.

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If I lost my wallet words why can’t I recover my Bitcoin with just a backup?

Because if you could, anyone could. If your cloud-based backup leaked out of the cloud and onto a thief’s computer, the thief could steal all your Bitcoin.

To restore your wallet, and recover your Bitcoin, you must have your wallet words.

Lost wallet words bitcoin

I’ve lost my wallet words but my wallet still works what should I do?

Sweep your Bitcoin to a new wallet immediately. Don’t delay. Here is the procedure:

  1. Create a new wallet using the Create button on the Unlock screen
  2. Make sure you write down your wallet words and date stamp as usual
  3. Unlock the new wallet and wait for sync to finish
  4. Create a new receiving address and copy it to the clipboard – you don’t need an amount. Note the first and last parts of the address.
  5. Use Exit/Switch and select Switch to return to the Unlock screen
  6. Unlock the old wallet and wait for sync to finish
  7. Use Tools | Empty wallet to spend all your funds to the new wallet address (paste from clipboard and verify it is unchanged)
  8. Do not delete your old wallet – others may still accidentally spend it and you’ll need to access it to sweep those funds

An alternative and more private approach to a single “Empty wallet” would be to split your overall balance over several smaller transactions made to different receiving addresses from the new wallet. This would help to disguise your balance and allow you to test the process with smaller spends. The final spend should use Tools | Empty wallet so that an optimal miner’s fee selection can be made and correctly zero your balance.

You can also use Manage wallet | Edit wallet to provide a note indicating that the wallet words are lost and you should avoid using that wallet for day to day use in the future.