I Just Found $1,013 in Bitcoin That I Didn’t Know I Had

My story highlights the challenges with storing and managing cryptocurrencies

Image: Francesco Carta fotografo/Getty Images

I’ve been writing a lot about cryptocurrency mining recently. I’m not a professional miner — I’m a journalist and experimenter. But you don’t have to be a professional to make a little cryptocurrency. You can mine small amounts of Bitcoin on any PC, or even use the heat generated from a crypto mining rig to heat a chicken coop.

Some of these projects can turn out to be more profitable than even I had originally intended. While writing about how to build a cryptocurrency mining rig recently, I logged into an old Nicehash account to check some mining statistics. I got a big surprise when I found that the account contained $1,013.71 in Bitcoin that I didn’t know I had.

Images courtesy the author

After some sleuthing, I found that the mystery Bitcoins were generated in an experiment I did in 2018 on heating my home with cryptocurrency mining.

At the time, I used a mining computer as a high-tech space heater. After running the rig for the entire winter, I concluded that using heat from a mining computer for productive purposes was a viable undertaking. It was that proof of concept which later led to my tomato and chicken experiments.

But in 2018, Bitcoin wasn’t worth much. My rig only generated around $0.76 per day of the cryptocurrency, and each coin was only valued at about $3,500. Since I only expected my account to contain less than $100, I never bothered to cash out the coins I was creating — my focus was more on the data I was gathering, anyway, and not on actual profits, so I just kind of forgot that the coins were there.

Fast forward a few years, and Bitcoin has gone up in value by a factor of about 13x. And now, the tiny amount of coins I made by running my space heater experiment are now worth over $1,000.

My experience highlights a few important things about cryptocurrencies. For one thing, they’re volatile. Bitcoin and other crypto coins can swing wildly in value from day to day or week to week, and the swings are unpredictable. Some people have likely made a lot of money buying Bitcoin, and others have probably lost fortunes. But over the long term, crypto has seen significant growth and adoption.

In my case, my initial costs were just the costs involved in building my rig and the electric power used to run it, so my risk was pretty low. And it turns out the upside was high. But I could just as easily have mined coins now and had the price drop dramatically. Much of it comes down to luck, and here luck was on my side.

My discovery also highlights the challenges of properly holding and managing cryptocurrencies. These coins are in their infancy as a form of currency, and the best ways to secure, manage, regulate and track them are still being worked out. Stories abound of people who have been locked out of Bitcoin fortunes worth upwards of $100 million because they forget their password to an account or hard drive. Overall, about 20% of all Bitcoin is reportedly in locked wallets, which users have either forgotten about or lost.

My story about forgotten Bitcoin happens to be a positive one. But with one forgotten password or misplaced thumb drive, fortunes in crypto can be lost forever. It’s much harder to lose other assets worth millions of dollars — like gold bricks, say, or a house.

Remember that cryptocurrencies are unpredictable, and holding them is not for everyone. Check with your financial advisor before you invest in anything new, Bitcoin included. But if you do choose to hold cryptocurrencies, remember this: whatever you do, hold onto your password!

Nothing in this article should be construed as providing investment advice. Consult your financial advisor or other professional advisor before investing in cryptocurrencies or any other monetary instrument.

Co-Founder & CEO of Gado Images. I write, speak and consult about tech, privacy, AI and photography. tom@gadoimages.com

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