Man searches for hard drive worth $7.5 million in UK landfill

By on November 30, 2013, 8:00 AM
storage, hard drive, bitcoin, uk, landfill, trash

A British man has been searching his local landfill for a hard drive he disposed of, which contains $7.5 million in Bitcoins. Recent increases in the value of the virtual currency has seen James Howells' 7,500 Bitcoins, which he purchased in 2009 for nearly nothing, rise to the huge amount, and now he wants his hard drive back.

When Howells bought the Bitcoins they were stored in a wallet file on his computer's hard drive, however their value at the time prompted him to forget about them. It was only recently that he was reading stories about the virtual currency and the success stories of others investments; naturally Howells begun to regret throwing out the drive during an IT equipment clearout earlier in the year.

Upon visiting the landfill site, it wasn't looking good for Howells' recovery efforts. The drive is likely buried under three to five feet of garbage somewhere in a site the size of a football field, presenting a massive task for a single person without any protective gear or equipment. Even then, the drive might be destroyed beyond repair if it's eventually found.

Just a few days ago, Bitcoin reached $1,000 for the first time after doubling its valuation over the course of two weeks. Early adopters of the virtual currency have quickly found themselves in the posession of a lot of money, and there's no telling how much further the value of Bitcoin will continue to grow.




User Comments: 14

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MilwaukeeMike said:

The drive is likely buried under three to five feet of garbage somewhere in a site the size of a football field, presenting a massive task for a single person without any protective gear or equipment.

By himself?! If there's $7.5 million on there, I'll bet he could convince a few people to help him look. In fact, now that's it's public I'll bet he gets quite a few offers.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Stories like these are going to come thick and fast now. Maybe we should all start buying 2nd hand HDD's in the hopes that the seller has no clue about the value of Bitcoins, clean forgot he had them, didn't wipe his drive thoroughly before selling and one of us gets lucky by being able to find and retrieve 10000 Bitcoins (and his home made porn videos) just by using Recuva.

GhostRyder GhostRyder said:

If that was me, I would be crying right now as I dig through the mountains of garbage. That sucks horribly, I read the story earlier in the week and I was thinking how long and hard I would be digging through that garbage possibly for weeks with a group of friends.

Shoot if it was in the US, I might just offer to join in the search with a little monetary persuasion of course

AnonymousSurfer AnonymousSurfer said:

The drive is likely buried under three to five feet of garbage somewhere in a site the size of a football field, presenting a massive task for a single person without any protective gear or equipment.

By himself?! If there's $7.5 million on there, I'll bet he could convince a few people to help him look. In fact, now that's it's public I'll bet he gets quite a few offers.

Offers? More like competition. I know I'd be out there collecting every hard drive I found

EClyde EClyde said:

Better him than me

MilwaukeeMike said:

Offers? More like competition. I know I'd be out there collecting every hard drive I found

Yeah, but with bitcoins you'd need his password to use them. I suppose you could hold them ransom and/or ask for a reward.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This is hilarious!

Does this mean there are Bitcoins lost forever? If the total amount of Bitcoins is 10.5 million, then that is 0.07% never to be seen again.

Makes you wonder what the exact percentage of total lost Bitcoins really is. And then there is a question of what this means for the system of using Bitcoins. Does this mean that over time all Bitcoins could be lost forever. What would maintain the system, if all Bitcoins were lost?

Guest said:

Reminds me of my buddy's winning lottery ticket for over a million, to which he lost and never found. So harsh...

JohnEdgarDoe JohnEdgarDoe said:

Brings a new meaning to the term 'Bitcoin Mining'. lol

I know I'm probably wrong but isn't it possible there's an online version of his btc account? But then I think they say save your btc wallet on you pc so hackers can't steal it.

At least this guy bought bitcoins, I'm a pretty savvy trader but thought they'd never go anywhere. I came very close to buying them even as a lottery play but then forgot about it. I'm kicking myself harder than this guy. Though digging through tons of garbage isn't a very appealing idea either.

Someone tell this poor sap to hire a digging machine and 100 labourers, give everyone a small cut, which would still amount to a shitload of money. I think the data on the drive should still be recoverable as long as it wasn't damaged.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

This is hilarious!

Does this mean there are Bitcoins lost forever? If the total amount of Bitcoins is 10.5 million, then that is 0.07% never to be seen again.

Makes you wonder what the exact percentage of total lost Bitcoins really is. And then there is a question of what this means for the system of using Bitcoins. Does this mean that over time all Bitcoins could be lost forever. What would maintain the system, if all Bitcoins were lost?

Some fair points... What happens if we lost all the gold in Fort Knox? If the gold is blown up... I suppose it isnt just gone... it would just be really hard to collect and put back into bullions?

Also, hasnt the government already confiscated quite a few bitcoins themselves? But surely they'd cash them in as they would not have a use for them... eventually?

Bitcoins seem like such an imaginary thing.... but with people making money and these articles.. people are surely going to be driving the price up and up.. I just wish I had a $1000 to drop on a single bitcoin now at this point... blah.. I do.. but thats pretty much all my saving at the moment.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Makes me wish I could time travel back to 2009 and make the same purchase.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

Makes me wish I could time travel back to 2009 and make the same purchase.

I've literally heard about 5 people say this to me in the past week. As well as myself. I dont think that would be the first thing I'd do if I went back in time with a time machine. Good lord knows, purchasing bitcoins would still be low on my list.

EDIT: 5 people in the past week, specifically talking about bitcoins.

Guest said:

Nobody has commented on the guy not being the sharpest tool in the shed. If he's searching for the drive to recover his coins, then it worked when he threw it away. So not only was it not a dead drive to start with, but he didn't personally physically damage it or wipe it clean before chucking it.

Hell, there's no guarantee the drive is still even in the landfill, a dumpster diver could have scavenged it at any time after the guy chucked it in his bin.

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