How to Backup your Bitcoin wallet (blockchain.info, Bitcoin QT, MultiBit)

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When we published our 4 Steps to keeping your Bitcoins safe guide about a month ago we said it’s important to back up your Bitcoin wallet. A Bitcoin wallet backup is basically a file that hold all of your private keys for your public addresses, so in case your Bitcoin wallet gets lost or stolen you can always get back your Bitcoin. Let me give you an example:

This guy accidentally threw away his hard drive which had a Bitcoin wallet installed on it with 7,500 Bitcoins….ouch. If he had created a back up he would be able to get them back again. Here is how the process looks like.

Step 1 – Open the wallet you want to back up

Whether it’s Blockchain.info, Bitcoin QT, MultiBit or any other wallet.

Step 2 – Look for “Backup wallet” or “Export private keys”

Search inside the wallet’s menu until you find one of these options. Here is Blockchain.info:

blockchain.info backupAnd this is Bitcoin-QT:

Bitcoin qt backup

And this is MultiBit:

mulibit backup

Step 3 – Save your backup to a flash drive

Save your exported backup on to a flash drive and keep it in a secure place. Some wallets will allow you to password protect your backup so that if someone gets a hold of the file he won’t be able to use it.

Now if for some reason you end up losing your Bitcoin wallet – for example, someone steals your mobile device. You can just open a new client, import this backup and move the Bitcoins out of that wallet to a new wallet. Blockchain.info even has a very handy option of automatically sending you backups to your dropbox or Google drive which you may want to consider.

Remember, all the backup is, is a list of your private keys. Whoever has your private key owns your Bitcoins. If you have any more questions about backing up your Bitcoin wallet feel free to post them in the comment section below.

Ofir Beigel

Owner at 99 Coins ltd.
Blogger and owner of 99Bitcoins. I've been dealing with Bitcoin since the beginning of 2013 and it taught me a lesson in finance that I couldn't get anywhere else on the planet. I'm not a techie, I don't understand "Hashes" and "Protocols", I designed this website with people like myself in mind. My expertise is online marketing and I've dedicated a large portion of 99Bitcoins to Bitcoin marketing.

48 Comments

    • Ofir Beigel on

      Hi Asif,
      Coinbase is a 3rd party wallet that stores your private key for you. This means you can’t access it – they are the only ones who have control over it (and over your Bitcoins). That’s why it’s not recommended to keep large amounts on Coinbase.

  1. Ray Niblock on

    Hi Ofir
    Thanks for all the tutorials; it’s helping to get my head around bitcoin and how to keep them safe.

    These are probably stupid questions, so I apologies in advance.

    I too use Blockchain.info. How secure do you think this is and how robust a company are they?

    I’ve backed-up as you suggested, but if Blockchain.info got hacked, that would mean my back up is useless if the hacker/s has already moved them from my wallet to their’s, or am I missing something?

    Many thanks
    Ray

    • Ofir Beigel on

      Hey Ray,
      thanks for the compliment I appreciate it :)

      I use Blockchain.info for small amounts only. Blockchain.info is somewhat of a hybrid wallet. This means that they store the private keys for you but only you know how to decrypt them on your browser. Of course Blockchain.info can change this in their code and no one will know. For this case they invented a chrome extension that let’s you use your browser just like you would a desktop wallet.

      Blockchain.info’s site works differently than traditional hosted bitcoin wallets as the bitcoin client runs within your own browser. This means, in theory, if blockchain.info was hacked your wallet would still be safe. However there is a weakness in that the server could be altered to serve modified javascript which could intercept your password or bitcoin addresses.

      The chrome browser extension eliminates this problem. The full javascript bitcoin client is included in the browser extension so it is no longer necessary to download any javascript from Blockchain.info’s servers. The result is a client which has all of the benefits of a web wallet service but requires very little trust to be placed in any 3rd party.

      That’s why I advise that if you do use Blockchain.info do it for small amounts and with the Chrome app.

  2. Hi, Ofir! I really appreciated the course and will be waiting for new chapters in the future ;)

    I didn’t understand some points about the Private key and no one can answer in the internet:

    1) What determines the quantity of private keys, do I have one per address use, per transsaction done or per wallet? I’m very confused here.

    2) Considering the response above, how often should I backup the Private keys? Every time that I do a new transaction (send and receive)?

    3) When I transfer bitcoins to someone, some new wallet or to a hardware wallet (Trezor, for example) the private keys changes possession to the new receptor of the coins?

    I’d really be gratful if you could help me.

    Thank you so much!

    Fabiano

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Hi Fabiano, thanks for the feedback. These are very good questions.
      Each Bitcoin address (the public key) have only one private key. Just keep that safe, it won’t be refreshed at new transactions. The transaction IDs are different when you send and receive coins.

  3. Does not it more than enough to REMEMBER the Private key seed? Why to have a back-up? (For example, we use Electrum Wallet – As long as we REMEMBER the 12 word seed, we are all “ok” , I think, right?)

    • Ofir Beigel on

      Assuming you don’t forget the seed you’re fine. But let’s say something happened to you and you lost your memory or something similar so now you’re stuck. It’s always best to back up the seed as well on some form of paper.

  4. Adeyinka Matthew on

    Hl OFIR many thanks for this great job you are doing on bitcoins its really very helpful and I recommend the crash course to all fresher’s in the world of bitcoins

  5. Thanks so much for your help and advice on bitcoin I do appreciate and I must say that your doing a great job.please I want to open a bitcon account but I didn’t understand the practical ways of doing that can you help me please.thanks a lot

  6. How will I backup my Bitcoinwallet.com wallet with master password and account key and join same with the public key of the private key?

    • I think Bitcoinwallet.com is a hosted wallet which means that you don’t get to keep your private keys. I would avoid using such a wallet.

  7. Thank you about your clear lessons. I read above (Larry M) there are users face the same problem like me with their blockchain wallet. Where is the feature to back up wallet?

  8. thanks Ofir of the free tutorials and giving me a better perspective on how bitcoins work also , amazing pointer on the back-up and easy comprehensive, educative course.

  9. Thanks Ofir,
    Unfortunately, i did my best to locate the backup feature on blockchain.info but couldnt. I guess i will try again tomorrow. This crash course was eye opening and I truly appreciate it. I also thank you for offering me the bitcoin stipend. All the best.

    I hope to here from you again. My email is open to 99bitcoins. God bless your team

  10. Matthew Dikwidi, South Africa

    Great O Fir, since i started Bitcoin lessons with you, i can tell it is not an easy as i thought, but now i know the good and the bad of storing bitcoins in your bitcoins wallet, thank you so much. i am relly interested in trading bitcoins but i can just get it right.

  11. Great tip, losing 7500 Bitcoins would be awful. I think backups are vital to the safety of the money. But instead of using the built in encryption, I’d suggest using a one-time pad by XOR-ing an unencrypted backup with pure randomness. This would be 100% unbreakable. Then just keep the encrypted backup and key separate, like maybe one on OneDrive and the other on Google Drive. Better yet, keep them on 2 separate flash drives in case your cloud accounts get hacked.

  12. Joshua Anderson on

    Thanks for posting this! I want to buy some Bitcoins this month and I have been scouring your website looking for the steps I should take and now I’m a bit freaked out after reading that your wallet could be hacked or simply disappear due to some hardware error. How can I prevent this?

  13. Elijah Thomas on

    I don’t know about you, but I use Bitcoins every singleday for most of my transactions and donations. I like to know that my money is safe and secure so I am strongly considering using Trezor. Do you have any experience with it? I am curious if you heard some bad reviews from people that actually used them, not from their competition.

  14. Tamita Stevens on

    Most likely you don’t use Bitcoin for every single transaction you make so it would be ideal if you could back up your wallet every time you receive a new private key. It doesn’t take that long and you know all your Bitcoins are safe. I keep mine on two USBs; one stores the most recent version and one the previous backup just in case I might need it.

  15. Matthew Taylor on

    Choose extremely strong passwords if you want to reduce the risks of being hacked. If some of your friends know where you keep your Bitcoin backup and want to harm you they can steal it and your Bitcoins will be lost. I don’t speak from personal experience, but this sure as hell can happen; the worst for me was to misplace my USB but luckily I have backed up on two USB flash drives.

  16. Anthony Wilson on

    Do you recommend Strongcoin? I read that their hybrid wallet could be the most secure option at this moment but I highly doubt it. Right now I’m using Blockchain and I never had any problems.

  17. Hellena Tisdale on

    The most important step is to always password protect your wallet so whoever gets a hold of your flash drive can’t use your Bitcoins. Also, don’t make just one copy as any digital gizmo is bound to give errors at any given time, so save your wallet on more than one flash device. Hope this helps!

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