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I created an Ethereum wallet 4 years ago, and bought some ether. At the time it was purely an experiment and I knew very little about crypto, I just wanted to see how to do it. I then forgot about it for some years, and recently thought I would look back at that old wallet. However, I could find the keystore but did not remember ever creating a password, so I resigned myself to never being able to access it again and wrote the ether off as lost.

But recently, I discovered a private key from exactly the same date the wallet was created, so I used that to access it. But the balance said zero ether. I checked it on etherscan and it also said zero, but it also has no transaction history.

What could be going on? Could I doing something wrong and somehow looking at the wrong wallet? I thought perhaps it had been hacked and the ether removed, but then shouldn't I be able to see the transaction history, which should at least contain the initial purchase of ether I made in 2016?

Thanks for any help. As I say, I have largely written off the ether as lost, but am curious to know what's going on and see if I can recover it.

The address in question is 0xa9A9aa61751Ad176f8E02694A0bD9Ed7e1A9C617

  • It may also be relevant that I installed Ethereum-Wallet at the time I bought the ether. Whenever I have tried to open Ethereum-Wallet in the last year or so, it never completes synch, and so does not even get to the point of asking me for a password or any form of key. – Ogla9 Feb 9 at 14:02
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I'm not sure what you'd need in order to access the keystore so you could look into that a bit more. But if we assume that you can't access that then you basically need the right private key for the account.

If you found some private key but its account has no transactions then it's obviously not the account you were thinking of. There's no way to hide transactions so if you see zero transactions in Etherscan then there are zero transactions.

I think I have like 10 different accounts from the times when I started playing around with Ethereum accounts as I was never sure which one had Ether and which one was for which network and I never wanted to remove any of them "just in case" I made some mistake. So my experience is that it's very easy to have leftover private keys which are just useless. My guess is that the same thing happened to you - unfortunately for you, you found the useless key and not the useful key.

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  • Thanks - I have now discovered there is a separate address that does contain the ether. I have no idea why that other nodekey exists (I have only ever created one ether wallet). – Ogla9 Feb 9 at 15:34

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