Bitcoin Wallet Store Bitcoin Cash (BCH) & Bitcoin (BTC)

Hopefully I can help clarify the relationship between bitcoins, addresses, and wallets before you lose your coins.

I've seen a few posts here from people who accidentally lose their bitcoins. With the recent ~100$/BTC there will probably be more people getting interested in bitcoins, and hopefully this can help you keep any bitcoins you receive:
There aren't specific bitcoins floating around. All bitcoins belong to an address somewhere. Any "lost" bitcoins are just any public addresses that the owner lost the private key for, and thus cannot spend these bitcoins.
Lets say I got 1 BTC from someone for whatever reason, and I want to send you 0.5 BTC. The blockchain is just a big sequence of transactions, so I basically add a new transaction that:
A) Proves I was the recipient of that transaction for 1 BTC, and therefore have enough to cover my 0.5 BTC transaction I'm about to make.
B) Says where I should send the BTC.
Since I can only reference the 1 BTC transaction, I need to spend all or none of it at the same time (and, actually, any that is not sent to a specific address is actually the fee and the miner can claim). I can send 0.5 BTC to you, and if I want to keep the other 0.5 BTC, I need to send it back to myself.
This is where people can lose bitcoins if they aren't careful
Different clients handle the process of sending this "change" back to yourself in different ways. Some clients, like the official Bitcoin-Qt client, make new random addresses and send the change to them. You still control those addresses, but you need to make periodic backups because these new addresses have new private keys too.
Other clients will send the change back to the address that sent it, or give you the choice to choose where to send the change. I think the blockchain.info wallets are like this.
The first strategy increases the anonymity of bitcoin transactions, but makes you keep track of new private keys. The second strategy does the opposite.
The reason some people have lost bitcoins with brain wallets is because they try sending a small portion of their BTC to someone from the brain wallet address, and don't realize the change might get sent somewhere other than their brain wallet. "Brain address" might be a better term, actually.
One last note: Some clients, like Armory or Electrum (I haven't used Electrum but I believe it is similar), will show you yet a different key that generates ALL the addresses in your wallet. You only need a backup once of this key, since you can import the wallet into the same client on another computer, and it will generate the exact same sequence of addresses that change is sent to, rather than random addresses. These are called deterministic wallets, since the pattern of addresses created looks random but can be reproduced multiple times as long as you have the original key.
I realize it can get confusing. I'm not sure if I am explaining it correctly, or even if I completely understand it myself. If you have questions though, I can try to answer them.
submitted by maccam912 to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

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