I have lost all the files from an Ethereum node where I had an account with some ether in it (I know I should have backed it up). Given than I know the account number and the password, can I transfer the ether into another node?

  • Is your private key in hex format or is it encrypted? The encrypted one is a json having address, crypto, id and version keys.
    – makevoid
    Jan 26, 2016 at 14:16
  • I put private key, but I meant password, so I've changed the title and question. Jan 26, 2016 at 14:24

3 Answers 3


I'm sorry but the password is just used to encrypt your private key, without the private key itself, the network cannot "recognize" you as the owner of the account and you cannot recover your funds.

You can try to use a disk recovery tool to attempt to recover the keystore file that was in your node_datadir/keystore.

The path on Linux should be:


on OSX:


on Windows:


The keystore file should look something like this:



You can try to run the disk recovery tool on that specific dir and make it look for all the files that start with UTC--.


No, unfortunately. Basically, to transfer ether, a private key is needed.

A private key cannot be obtained from an address ("account number"). Note that going the other direction, an unencrypted private key can always produce the address.

Thus, the private key is what's essential for backup (and the password to it, if the private key is stored in an encrypted form).

That's what the keystore files are, and trying to recover or find them, as other answers suggest, is the only hope at progress.


You need your private key and password (if the private key is encrypted) in order to access your account. If the wallet was a presale wallet or generated somewhere that created a .json file, that .json file also holds your private key.

The presale .json file was called:


The file paths for Windows / Mac / Linux are as follows:

Mac: ~/Library/Ethereum/keystore
Linux: ~/.ethereum/keystore
Windows: %APPDATA%/Ethereum/keystore

Do a full and thorough search of your computer, email, and cloud services you use (ie: Dropbox).

How you "lost" the files will impact what steps you can take to recover them. If you dropped your computer in a lake, you probably want to start by getting a wetsuit and going for a quick dive. If they were accidentally deleted (and then you emptied your trash/recycle bin) and it just happened, it may be possible to recover them using a data recovery software. If they were overwritten, and it happened very recently. It may be possible to recover them using a data recovery software. The sooner you do this the better as the likelihood of the deleted files being overwritten with new data goes up the longer you wait.

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