If you have a digital currency wallet, you need to know how to backup your wallet file, and then import your backed up wallet.dat file when needed. In the past month I bought a new computer and had to move all of my wallets to it. Then Windows Updates shut my new computer down repeatedly (until I figured out how to control it) corrupting all of my staking wallets more than once. I have applied wallet.dat files dozens of times just in the past few weeks. It is a simple process everyone with a wallet needs to know how to do at one time or another.
Backup Wallet.dat File
The wallet.dat file needs to be backed up regularly. It does change on occasion based on actions you take within your wallet. Even if you only apply a minor update to your wallet, change your password, or start staking it is a good idea to back up your wallet first.
Think of this file as the key used to open a safe containing your crypto currency. If you keep this key in your house and there is a fire, you cannot open the safe. If this key is stolen or lost, you cannot open the safe. If the data is corrupted it cannot open the safe. For this reason I back my wallet.dat files up on two memory cards regularly. I keep one at my house, and I leave the other at my friend’s house. Being able to recover your wallet.dat file is important enough for you to take every precaution.
I will use the PIVX wallet to show how to backup your wallet.dat file. Wallets will differ slightly, but all should have a ‘Backup Wallet’ option in their menu.
Step 1. The ‘Backup Wallet’ option is typically found in the File or Settings menu. For the PIVX wallet, pull down the File menu, and you will see it. Click the option.
Step 2. Select where you want to save your wallet file. To avoid confusion, I always name mine with the Crypto symbol, and the date. For example, below I have named this backup:
PIVX wallet 10_06_2017
Step 3. That’s all there is to it. You will now see a .dat file where you saved the wallet. If you have saved the file to a memory card, remove it and put it somewhere safe.
Reapply Wallet.dat File
There will probably come a time when you need to reapply (import) the backup of your wallet.dat file to your digital currency wallet. This can be simple, or a little more challenging than backing the file up depending on the wallet. I will explain the two common ways to import your wallet.dat file.
Step 1. I always make sure the wallet is active with the entire blockchain downloaded before importing my wallet.dat file to it. If you are updating or installing a new version of the wallet, I would recommend importing your wallet.dat file as the last step.
Step 2. Some currencies have an option to import a wallet, but it is not always called ‘Import Wallet.’ Sometimes it is called ‘Import Keys’ or something equivalent. If you have this option available in the wallet you are using, it only takes three simple steps to apply the ‘wallet.dat’ file.
- Copy the latest backed up version of your backup file (the one I named PIVX wallet 10_06_2017.dat above) and name the copy ‘wallet.dat.’
- After choosing the ‘Import Wallet’ or ‘Import Keys’ option, select this new ‘wallet.dat’ file and it will be imported, which means it will replace your current ‘wallet.dat’ file being used.
- Exit and Restart your wallet. This may take just a few minutes, or much longer, to resync and show your balance. Different coins need more or less time to sync.
Step 3. If the ‘Import Wallet’ option does not exist and you need to manually replace the ‘wallet.dat’ file, you will first need to find the one you are replacing. The easiest way to find your file is to open up File Explorer, select your C: drive (green arrow), and search for it by typing wallet.dat in the search field (top right, red circle below).
After the search is complete, your wallet.dat files will all be listed. In this example I want to update PIVX. Locating the file in the PIVX folder just takes a moment. Open the folder where the wallet file resides. In Windows 10 you can do this by simply right clicking on the folder path (AppData\Roaming\PIVX) and choosing ‘Open File Location.’
Step 4. Make sure your wallet is not open. If it is Exit.
Step 5. I usually take a moment to rename the ‘wallet.dat’ file already being used by the wallet (in AppData/Roaming/PIVX for this example). I usually call it something like ‘wallet_old.dat’ just so I don’t lose it. After I do this there is no ‘wallet.dat’ file in the PIVX folder.
Step 6. Copy your latest backup wallet into the PIVX folder. I called mine PIVX wallet 10_06_2017.dat when I saved it above. Once copied in, rename it ‘wallet.dat.’
Step 7. Restart your wallet. This may take just a few minutes, or much longer, to resync and show your balance. Different coins need more or less time to sync. PIVX takes a while to get all of the information for your new wallet.
This process does not work for all coins, but I would guess 90% of crypto currencies do use a very similar process.