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Storing Bitcoins

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You may hear that bitcoins are stored in wallets. If this were true, then if
you copied your wallet you’d own double the number of bitcoins. Clearly
you couldn’t have digital money that works this way. So no, bitcoins are
not stored in wallets.
So where are bitcoins stored? Well, ownership of bitcoins is recorded on
Bitcoin’s blockchain, which is, as we have seen, the database replicated
on over 10,000 computers around the world containing every Bitcoin
transaction ever. So you can look at that database and see that at this
time, a specific address has a specific number of bitcoins associated with
it. For example, the blockchain would store the fact that the address
1Jco97X5FbCkev7ksVDpRtjNNi4zX6Wy4r had had 0.5 BTC sent to it,
and that those 0.5 BTC have not yet been sent elsewhere. Bitcoin’s
blockchain doesn’t store balances of accounts (it is not a list of account
numbers and corresponding BTC balances), it stores transactions. So to
get the current balance of any account, you need to look at all the
inbound and outbound transactions through that account.
Bitcoin wallets store private keys (not bitcoins!) and their software
makes it easy for the user of the wallet to see how many coins they control
and to make payments. If you cloned your wallet, you would be cloning
your private keys, not doubling your bitcoins.

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