I Won $80 but Lost $13M pt 2

By BussTechno | BussTechno | 19 Mar 2021

2 of 2

Yesterday I left everyone hanging at the point in which we had finally returned home.  If you haven't read THIS  please go there first.  We will finish out this story today and I offer a few obvious common sense tips that hopefully help you not duplicate some of the stupid mistakes that I have made.  They are extremely obvious, but they bear repeating over and over.  There is no happy ending to this story, there is no light at the end of tunnel, so don't expect it.  Buckle in bleaches and get your "WTH was he thinking" caps on.

Tip 1.  Regularly Back up your Hard Drive

On September 1, 2009 my Windows Vista box suffered a catastrophic failure [blue screen of death] forcing me to reload/revert the OS (Operating System).  I lost everything from the prior four months that was not saved to external media.  My digital files I had moved over from DVD were destroyed during the Great Windows Purge of my system.  That's okay- I still had the BTC media stored safely away in a duffle bag in the back of my new-to-me SUV (my deployment gift to myself).  At the time though, I had not even given my fake money game a second thought.  I had finally arrived home in the middle of August, taken a vacation with The Wiff to the Bahamas (my deployment gift to my wife), and was balancing an attempt to settle into a new position at work 3 hours away from our home with also having to leave again for 5 weeks to beautiful FT Rucker, Alabama for training.

The Whip


If you are going to keep any type of KEY or wallet on your daily use hard drive, which I hope you do not, you need to be backing up your hard drive.  If you keep any sentimental pictures or important documents- you had better have snapshots or backups.  If I would have been more stringent in my backup schedule i could have reverted back to a recent snapshot and had little to no data loss.  


Tip 2. Safely Secure & Regularly Back up your External Media

Once I returned from the gloriousness that is Rucker, I began commuting weekly to my new position.  I lived out of two bags for the next several months as I would travel to work and stay there all week, only returning home on the weekends.  One of those bags... you guessed it, contained my digital gold.  On January 2, 2010 I was involved in a vehicle collision that totaled out my precious SUV (see picture 1) that I had basically been living out of.  All of my belongings were strewn about the interior of the Yukon during the wreck.  Two days later I left for a six week CCNA camp with my Bitcoin-bag in tow.  

When I returned, The Wiff and I started looking to relocate to a city close to where I would eventually be working.  We found what we [she] wanted and set in motion the building process for our new home which would take about 7-8 months.  We put our house on the market which sold in three days with the contingency that we schedule closing and move out in two weeks.  We rushed and made move number one into a rent house while our new house was being built.  All of our belongings were crammed into storage and a small rental property.  I didn't give my BTC media located in my bag a second thought.

My weekly commute back and forth to my work site continued over the next several months.  That Summer I was cleaning out one of my travel bags and noticed I had several CDs and DVDs along with a ton of paperwork; and I recalled what they were.  Unfortunately, the cases protecting my media had been crushed from the constant moving and use of the travel bag.  My discs were laying inside the bag and scratched all to hell.  I began the process of duplicating and retrieving the data on them.  I was about 95% successful in data retrieval but the one file that mattered was gone; the wallet.dat file was corrupt and empty.  This was no great loss at the time as the value was nil, but I remember being angry at myself for how I had stupidly mistreated my data.  This was a sentimental loss for me as it represented four friends enjoying ourselves in an otherwise crappy situation.  At that point my mind began focusing on everything else I had going on with work, schooling, and life in general and I didn't devote any more time to Bitcoin.  I also didn't remember then, but I still had the written and typed keys.

Even safeguarded external media has a shelf-life. CDs, DVDs, mechanical hard drives, and yes even SSDs will fail eventually.  Ensure you are protecting them from heat, friction, car wrecks, and don't throw them in a bag that is used daily!  Back them up every couple of years and keep the originals and all of the backups, because you never know which one will fail.


Tip 3. Organize, Safeguard, and Systematically file your important papers

Fast forward 4 years and its Summer 2014. We have moved and settled into our house, spent all of 2013 building and expanding a business, and I am in Georgia, USA on an extended business trip.  An associate is telling me that he has brought a few mining computers that he is running in his hotel room and that he has earned a little over 3 total BTC mining off his rigs since he first started and the price was in the $500-600 range.  This strikes a chord and I remember my days of mining while deployed; I also am still using my trusty BTC travel bag.  I decide to rummage through it and I find a piece of Rite in the Rain paper with a hand written key on it.  SWEET Imma gonna have a poop load of money! 

At this point I have been out of Bitcoin for 5 years and I have no clue as to what has occurred with the project.  I do some internet searching and began reading up.  I find and look up my public key... drum roll please... 12 BTC.  WTF?! Where did all of my coinage go?  Apparently in my 2009 ignorance of BTC and haste to return home from my deployment I only wrote down one key pair that had a "small" amount on it.  Still $6000 was nothing to sneeze at.  Now this is where my memory is once again a little hazy- at this point I created a new paper wallet and transferred the coin.  I believe it was sent to a wallet I created on but I can't be certain.  I do know that I printed the wallet, saved it to a memory card, and saved it on my hard drive as an encrypted file.  When I returned home I placed the paper wallet in a safe location and resumed my busy life. 

In this instance I was extremely lucky to have found the hand written key pair.  It sat inside my abused travel bag for 5 years awaiting its time to be rediscovered- but it should have never been there for that long.  I did do the correct thing at the time by printing and backing up the new wallet, but I should have never placed it on my hard drive.  I also made the right move in placing it in what I believed to be a safe location.  Your important papers such as birth & medical records, investments, property deeds, service records, paper wallets if you still have them (hopefully you have moved to a more secure method), etc need to be protected.  Get a fireproof safe and store them in a location that is accessible in the event of a catastrophe but still out of regularly trafficked areas.  

Tip 4. Keep track of your Investments and inform your Trusted Partner

In late 2014 and early 2015 The Wiff and I are blessed with both the best and worst news of our lives.  We had three family deaths within two months.  Then the best news came late January in the form of my wife's pregnancy and subsequent Buss Baby in the Fall.  Needless to say our priorities shifted as did our attentions, and I once again neglected my Bitcoin until the 2017 bull market.

In 2017 the media was abuzz with BTC and I was again reminded that I needed to start paying attention.  I went to my safe location and discovered that there were no longer any of my important items I had placed there a few years back.  More than likely at some point my wife cleaned out the location where I had kept important papers.  She doesn't remember doing it, but it doesn't really matter.  It was my fault because I failed my partner by not including her.  She would have no reason to believe a weird looking piece of paper was important because I didn't stress the value.  No big deal because I still have my backups.  

If you are fortunate enough to have a partner then they need to be involved or at least have an understanding of your investments and where they are located.  This can be a part of your will or estate planning, and I would suggest reviewing it with them annually.  In our household I take care of finances and investments- not because The Wiff is incapable but because she prefers to focus on creative pursuits.  I'm the Nerd; she's the creative mind.  However, my wife has an understanding of: where our money is, what insurance products we have, and where our personal and business assets lie.  If I were to die first, and statistically I will, she won't have to go through the insecurity of not knowing how to access our investments.

Tip 5. Never Store Key on Computers or Media you will use regularly

My backups- in the interest of putting a death knell in this tragedy of stupid and because my butt is numb from sitting I will give you the less winded breakdown on my backups.

Through updates, possible virus infection, partitioning and dual loading of Linux, and years of laptop use and abuse- the encrypted paper wallet on my laptop became corrupted and unreadable.  Strike two on what remained of my OG BTC.

At some point over the years the SD card was broken.  It sat in a drawer unused, so my best guess is that something pressed against it or shifted on it causing it to break.  I still have it and have attempted to perform data recovery multiple times to no avail.  My only hope is that at some point in the future I can find a professional I trust that is able to reconstruct it.  Strike 3 I'm out.

Only the computer was continued to be in use, but I should have followed the tips above and performed due diligence in securing my backups.  Never store key on computers or media that you plan to use!  It can make for a very bad day as nefarious actors, general hardware/software failure, accidents, etc. can make your payday disappear quicker than a fart in a 30mph wind.

Ending this sh!t-show

For the past 3.5 years I have been performing data recovery and mining on all of my hard drives, externals, and media with the slightest glimmer of hope that maybe i will come across the keys I embedded in some random file, maybe I will find an artifact in the 900K recovered files that contains my coveted info, maybe I will find the photo I may or may not have taken... maybe...maybe.  I haven't given up completely but the likelihood of finding anything continues to wain.   

But don't feel sorry for me as we are doing fine.  Will I have ever have the amount of Bitcoin I had in 2009- probably not, but I'm sure as hell gonna keep buying, earning, and stacking as many as I can.  My hard learned lessons don't need to be yours if use common sense practices.  And Hey I still won that $80, right?

If you take nothing from my experiences just continue do this and you will be golden:  STACK SATS and keep them safe.  BTC is not going to stop, something that was worth literally nothing 12 years ago is the best investment vehicle in the world and will continue to outperform for the next century.  You will be able to leave a legacy for your loved ones because you're still early to the game.

Thanks for reading, I hope you aren't too depressed.  If you enjoyed this content feel free to give me a like below.


disclosures: I own BTC and Bitcoin investment products.

credit: Thumbnail image by Moose Photos on Pexels

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Technologist, libertarian, and jpegs


I write about Technology, Crypto, and JPEGs. If I write about it and own a position- I will disclose it. *For entertainment only*

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