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What is in wallet.dat?

This primarily contains signing keys. It also contains metadata about transactions. It should be encrypted, as anyone in possession of your wallet is also in possession of your signing authority.

It can and should be copied and backed up. It does not ``contain coins''; copying a wallet does not duplicate value. But deleting the last copy of a signing key does destroy value. Don't let this happen.

Andrew Poelstra 2014-06-05