A Man Lost $60M Worth of Bitcoin by Throwing out the Wrong Hard Drive

A lot of people showed an interest in cryptocurrency back when Bitcoin was first created. Despite its niche appeal, it was incredibly easy to mine in rather large quantities. Unfortunately, a lot of people have since lost their Bitcoin holdings. One particular holder lost close to $60 million worth of Bitcoin due to a lost hard drive.

Securely Storing Bitcoin is Important

Considering that Bitcoin has been around for over nine years now, it is safe to assume that not all of the minted coins are still in circulation today. Given the vast number of hacks, thefts, and lost currencies over the years, the actual Bitcoin supply is closer to the 15 million mark than the 17+ million which have been mined to date. A scarce currency only becomes more scarce over time, especially when users do not take the best security precautions.

While Bitcoin-related hacks and thefts make most of the headlines, they are not necessarily responsible for the largest losses in the cryptocurrency world. Rather, it seems human error is the main cause of many Bitcoins having been lost over the years. Granted, storing the world’s leading cryptocurrency is not necessarily all that straightforward, but things have improved dramatically in the past few years.

Even so, users who have ever mined Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency will need to take the proper precautions. Storing funds in a safe and secure manner requires one to pay attention at all times. Unfortunately for James Howells, things did not work out in that manner. While he stored a Bitcoin wallet on a hard drive for some time, the drive was thrown out “accidentally“.

That in itself is not unusual, but it seems Howells had done a lot of things right up to that point. Rather than throwing the hard drive out with his old computer, he tossed it after storing it in a desk drawer. It had been in there with another drive which should have been thrown out, yet it seems this is where the mix-up occurred. Considering that the drive in question held the keys to a Bitcoin wallet containing around 7,500 BTC, Howells’ losses amount to roughly $60 million at current prices.

Recovering such hard drives always proves rather difficult, for obvious reasons. In this case, it is a bit unclear where the hard drive ended up, especially since the mistake wasn’t noticed until a few weeks after the fact. It is not the first time issues like this one have arisen, as various Bitcoin holders have suffered similar setbacks in the past few years. Storing a Bitcoin wallet securely for longer periods of time is difficult, especially when one doesn’t label things correctly or fails to use the proper hardware.

All of this further confirms that Bitcoin has always been relatively popular among speculators and investors. Unfortunately, it also means millions – if not billions – of dollars worth of Bitcoins have been lost throughout the years, mainly due to hard drives and USB sticks getting thrown out, misplaced, or malfunctioning. In this era of cryptocurrency hardware wallets, taking security more seriously has become easier, but still requires people to pay close attention.