That Crypto Moment Part III: When the Wallet Was Unreliable and You Lost or Almost Lost Your Coins

I bet most have come across several publications asking that thorough researches are done before making use of cryptocurrency-based products and services. As it is with human nature, most times people only realize that these cautions are to be taken quite seriously only after they have been put in a tight corner. I will be making use of my personal experience with the armory desktop wallet to illustrate this.

On this fateful Tuesday afternoon, I was snooping around and considering where to move some of my coins to because I had suddenly felt the need to have a more secure desktop wallet. After a moment of deliberation, I finally settled on the armory desktop wallet. I went through the process of having the wallet installed – after installing it, it had a statement written which indicated that the project was still in Beta version and that it does not come online all the time. I was not really perturbed by this as this was not the  first time a blockchain  project or product will have such a caption – after all the whole blockchain industry is still in its nascent stage, so this was not an alarming caption; but I guess I should have taken heed so as to have avoided the drama that ensued subsequently.

I believe if I had taken my time to do some research on users’ review, I would have avoided the quagmire I was about to be confronted with. The armory wallet remained in offline mode after it had been installed, but being a blockchain “smartass”, I did not find anything unusual about it so I proceeded to copy the wallet address and effect the transfer – now the transfer is done, I could not find my coins. The coin had left my previous wallet but they were not appearing in the newly installed armory… beads of sweat were began to form on my forehead.

After fidgeting with the wallet for a bit, it indicated that armory could only work after Bitcoin core had been installed and running in the background. I quickly went on to have biotin core installed only to be confronted with a process of armory and bitcoin core initiation, synchronization and the building of bitcoin transaction databases. Since I feverishly needed to have access to my coins, I had no option than to go ahead and comply with the plethora of processes required to make the wallet work. The estimated time as indicated by the wallet was to be roughly 24-hours and users were advised to leave the wallet and bitcoin core program to run overnight. The estimated memory take-up space was to be 50GB.

The expected 24-hours period to make the wallet work turned out to be a little more than 3-weeks! Yes, 3 solid weeks of painful and slow download of the entre bitcoin blockchain transactions since 2009! And instead of the estimated 50GB of local hard disk space, armory wallet took up 132 GB whiles bitcoin core took 152 GB.

The most interesting aspect this spectacle was that after all these had been done and it was time to recover the coins, the wallet kept on crashing. At that point, I was devastated and literally threw my arms up in despair. I was ready to give up any chance of ever recovering my coins – especially because there was and still is no functional armory customer support medium since all emails do not get delivered neither do they respond to tweets; last time the armory team tweeted via their official twitter account was in September, 2015!

At the point of my giving up hope, my colleague Eyal, here at ICOWatchlist decided that it was not right to just let valuable assets go. So we got to work- he did most of the work though! And after about an hour of tracing my coin on blockchain – by using the recipient armory wallet address, we were able to export the wallet to a blockchain wallet, using the seeds and private keys. The relief I felt after retrieving my coins was priceless. The gratitude I felt for my colleague’s help can only be lived in the particular moment especially because this was the period where cryptocurrency prices were generally beginning to significantly appreciate in value and I would have effectively missed out on the rally.

This brings into focus the need to store wallet seeds and private keys safely so as to avoid debilitating situations. It further reiterates the need to do in-depth research into any cryptocurrency product or service that we intend to make use of so as to protect our digital assets.

The curious thing was that I only started to get materials concerning the challenges people were encountering using the armory wallet turning up only after I had been placed in a hard corner; really interesting how things turn out that way. Some users even claimed that the project had been abandoned… it is therefore a curious case as to why they have kept the platform running if it is not to be further developed. It is imperative that the team or former team makes a clear statement on the state of affairs with the project and have it shut down to prevent other people from having similar unpleasant situations.