Usagi: Back, Back, Back It Up. Ayee!

Bitcointalk continues to churn out the lulz.

In the latest episode, Milkman Usagii absconded with even more bitcoins after “failing to back-up his wallet.”ii That’s correct, this fellow claims to run a “Bitcoin Business” and doesn’t back his shit up.iii Furthermore, Usagi has now successfully ripped off so many suckers that he neither bothers to apologize nor create halfways believable cover stories. To wit, from his lulzy posts:

Hello.iv This is the letter I never expected I would have to write, primarily because I never saw this coming.

On MayMarch 29th, 2014,v I received the last e-mail which passed through tsukino.cavi and the website was shut down by BitVPS.vii

The official story is that a RAID disk was pulled and was no longer in use. How this could have happened to a live server, esp. one of the more expensive plans (KVM-6) was never explained. The problem was not noticed by BitVPS but two weeks after, I sent them a letter asking about my server. I was assured someone would look into it.

How the remote backups which I had running via cron disappeared was never explained or commented on.


The total estimated damage is about $10,000 in realized costs.viii There is a much larger amount possibly lost in losing the ability to prove we are GLBSE claimants. Not a small amount of money by any means, but not a huge and ugly number like “millions” (I pity some web businesses)


I took reasonable precautions with weekly backups and the server failure was not due to any kind of mechanical error, hack attempt, shoddy code etc. it was due to something dumb which happened in the server room, like someone spilling coffee on a RAID disk. BitVPS already apologized to me about it. I can see how my saying “sorry” can make people feel better but this “sorry” is more akin to “sorry it rained, we can’t play baseball today”. So yeah, I’m sorry about what happened. You better believe it. But it’s not logical for me to assume culpability, no.

Actually I have to admit I am a little suprised at the negativity I’m getting over this, it’s as if people automatically assume every failure is intentional.


*shrug* Thanks for your opinion, but you don’t know what you are talking about. Try designing a web wallet sometime. You need to keep what happened here in perspective. You are flying off the handle at me because someone spilled coffee on a raid disk 5,000 miles away? Huh?

Not surprisingly, this combination of arrogance and stupidity kicked off a spirited conversation on #bitcoin-assets:

fluffypony: Please can someone explain how you don’t have the wallet.dat backed up. Why would you trust your backup infrastructure to your hosting company? System backups should go to a company whose sole purpose is to maintain backed up data. With an additional daily / weekly / monthly delta mirrored to infrastructure under your direct contro. Seriously, wtf. even a retard can put the wallet.dat on DropBox and be 99% safer than this.

pankkake: I really hate usagi’s attitude of never blaming itself. And wtf at that backup system.
Right, and his building a webwallet fetish. Maybe Tradefortress was just Usagi having a couple of lucid months?

fluffypony: pankkake: Right? because every single Bitcoin n00b post on Bitcointalk and Reddit advocates multiple backups of wallet.dat, how does he now know this?
pankkake: It’s just the basics of backups. keep it offsite and preferrably offline.ix he had neither. It’s understandable to lose your own stuff, but when you manage others money, you should take every precaution
BingoBoingo: And once again there’s the whole why was the wallet on a fucking server problem.

mircea_popescu: I guess usagi is the finest example that mere age in the space counts for nothing, he was being loled at by mpoe-pr and deprived FOR EXACTLY THE SAME REASONS 3 years ago. “*shrug* Thanks for your opinion, but you don’t know what you are talking about. Try designing a web wallet sometime. You need to keep what happened here in perspective. You are flying off the handle at me because someone spilled coffee on a raid “. This guy should be on #bitcoin-dev

asciilifeform: Somebody still uses webwallets !?!?11x
Apocalyptic: asciilifeform, he builds them !

Naturally, this provided the -assettes an opportunity to opine on better back-up solutions. Stay sharp here because there are a few fairly technical conversations overlapping here:xi

BingoBoingo: RAID is not a backup or data protection strategy.
mike_c: How would he know it was coffee unless he did the spilling! Get your broomsticks.
mircea_popescu: mike_c, has it.

asciilifeform: re: webwallets, obligatory: ‘If the deer comes out of the forest and walks up to the hunter, it is not proper hunting, and this is not proper con artistry or grift or embezzlement or any other term we use to describe proper works of evil. If the victim, at the sight of the economic predator, goes into doggie submission, we must stop discussing the phenomenon in terms of conflict and consider whether what we are observing might be some strange instance of symbiosis.’ (orlov)xii

* asciilifeform Remembers to stuff a new drive in RAID rail.
mircea_popescu: RAID can actually be backup if you want it to.
asciilifeform: BingoBoingo: It isn’t a backup or whatever strategy, it’s a ‘you can’t buy disks that aren’t garbage for years now’ strategy. Essentially everyone i know who gives a damn about retaining whatever bits on his workstation has some form of RAID.

BingoBoingo: I’m a pretty big fan of just a bunch of disks. Varying capacities, models, and manufacturers. The stuff that makes most RAID setups complain.
asciilifeform: BingoBoingo: Never heard so much as a squeak of complaint out of my old ‘3ware’

fluffypony: But seriously, it’s a 100kb file. How hard is it to backup.
mircea_popescu: Real men wallets are > 10mbxiii
fluffypony:  Ok so he’d need to split it into a bunch of 1.44mb ZIP files.

BingoBoingo: Just the summer after highschool working in a data recovery shop back in the early 0’s turned me off of the raid concept.
asciilifeform: It isn’t a backup mechanism – one uses raid to keep working when disk croaks, without losing day.
joecool: Mixed batches work better in the long run, I had a batch of 4 WD drives from the same lot, 100% failure rate in about a year.
mircea_popescu: Mixed batches same model is the way to go ya. and platter not SSD.
asciilifeform: Samsung ‘spinpoint’ is good for 2-3 yrs. Easy. Sadly, no longer made. (of continuous spin time)

joecool: Then again I also like md RAID over most hw RAID. So it’s very tolerant of what you throw at it.

BingoBoingo: ATM my storage longevity strategy in the portable involves an SSD with substantial unallocated space for firmware to fall over into. For less portable things I just sync directories across disks.
joecool: Do you actually set up the reserved space with HDPARM or just leave free space.
I generally just leave freespace and hope for the best.
joecool: Same, wasn’t aware you could tell the firmware to reserve space until recently.

asciilifeform: Considering that a gentoo box can take a week to provision, I rather like RAID.
mircea_popescu: It shouldn’t be relied on.

asciilifeform: The most annoying thing about SSD isn’t even the limited burn cycles, but the abrupt and catastrophic failure of controller.
mircea_popescu: Better drives use it, but you never know.
joecool: Well HD’s can have that issue too, just not super common.

asciilifeform: I suppose folks with infinite money now use mirrored SSD setups.

joecool: Logic board used to toast on certain older models, then you needed an exact donor and cross fingers to recover.
This no longer works on current disks (controller firmware stores calibration parameters unique to the platters.)
joecool: But yeah sure, RAID is cheap insurance, much cheaper than data recovery.
BingoBoingo: asciilifeform: That is the big concern, but… It’s the portable so only space for one internal disk.

asciilifeform: Portable ought to be considered expendable, anyway.
BingoBoingo: It is. It doesn’t get the good secrets.
*: asciilifeform envisions portable SSD with zap wire.

joecool: The good stuff I keep offline or on other devices (ie. my PGP keys are on smartcard), media i keep on my server and access it wherever with sshfs. Never saw the need to have a TB of space in a laptop.
*: BingoBoingo might need to get a still more expendable portable for next year when crossing the Darien and evading FARCxiv

asciilifeform: Laptop with ‘grenade’ pin probably crossed the mind of everyone who read the DPR/Ulbricht papers.xv
BingoBoingo: Or thermite bag with sparking device.
joecool: I was just going to say that.

asciilifeform: no time to stuff in bag, in the field.
joecool: You pack the thermite inside and have a way to trigger ignition? don’t need much

asciilifeform: In my experiments,xvi plain old magnesium strip will do – so long as it’s attached to an exposed die. If you know basic glass blowing, you can package it in a neat little bulb – a la the old-style camera flash cartridges.

BingoBoingo: Oh, I was thinking bag of thermite inside laptop opposite logic board and storage. Kensington lock slot repurposed for inserting a sparking striker which is then turned like a key.
asciilifeform: Last thing you want, in a false alarm, to set your desk on fire.
BingoBoingo: Wait, does no one else have asbestos pad protecting their desk?
asciilifeform: Laptop might even be… on your lap – when fired. For stationary setups, the traditional asbestos safe works fine.

This is what digital security looks like. This is what open knowledge sharing looks like.

This is what Bitcoin looks like.

___ ___ ___

  1. Two years ago, usagi was doing this complex layered cake of very badly structured “corporations” that kept trading with each other then failing to execute the contracts etc. deprived kept calling him on it. for months, 100s of pages. Eventually usagi had a nervous break down, wrote this post about how he can’t get any sleep because he keeps having to defend “his good name” and he is selling his guitar and w/e to pay off debts. And “we” need to stop because this can’t be everything is a scam milk is a scam kjfdshgkshdkgjsfd. So we just took the “milk is a scam” thing.

    Mircea Popescu on BitBet’s tagline, via #bitcoin-assets.

  2. And failing to listen to Lil’ Jon, the Ying Yang Twins, and The Eastside Boyz: Get Low! (skip to 2:23)
  3. This sort of nonsense is sadly par for the course in forumland. If you’re looking for a more legitimate operation, there’s a 99% chance it’s listed on MPEx.
  4. This is dog.
  5. Editing dates on the fly… Usagi’s combination of laziness and boldness knows no bounds!
  6. Go Canada!
  7. BitVPS was once listed on MPEx but was delisted in January 2013 for generally sucking and being shady. That anyone should have chosen to use their services thereafter is a testament to some serious fucking brain damage.
  8. Ooh, almost 20 BTC!
  9. The best way to keep your bitcoins offsite and offline is with a high-entropy paper wallet.
  10. Seriously, if you’re as dumb as TwoBitIdiot and are using Coinbase, Circle, or BitGo to store most of your coins, you deserve to lose them.
  11. Conversations have been edited for flow, if not brevity.
  12. Dmitry Orlov is the author of The Five Stages of Collapse, a book worth having on your shelf if you’re feeling particularly dark and preppery.
  13. Hmm someone is reusing addresses!
  14. This would be BB heading to MP’s Third Conference in Buenos Aires next April.
  15. DPR = Dread Pirate Roberts aka Ross Ulbricht, he of Silk Road fame.
  16. Do you know anyone else who experiments with magnesium strips to practice destroying computer hardware? Didn’t think so. This is why #bitcoin-assets rules.

16 thoughts on “Usagi: Back, Back, Back It Up. Ayee!

  1. pankkake says:

    My comments on backups were quite generic on backing up everything — my needs are close to 10 TB of data and it isn’t that complicated or expensive. Keep in mind usagi also claims other data losses (though that data was probably worthless anyway).

    Indeed Bitcoin wallets are so small they are very easy to back up.
    Clients like Armory or Electrum will allow you to have very small backups no matter how many addresses or transactions you have. Armory has a very advanced backup system, which can even allow a relatively secure system to retrieve the coins with M-of-N (useful in case of death, disappearance, etc.).
    It’s really hard to find an excuse given how cheap and easy storage is nowadays.

    I’m not that convinced by paper wallets – sometimes it feels like a cargo cult. What you need to focus on is having multiple secure* working** backups. The more you have, the less likely the data loss is***. Their form is almost not important.

    * as in immune to theft
    ** as in restoration will work and will be usable
    *** as NotLambchop puts it: “If both your house and your bank do burn down simultaneously: you don’t care because nuclear war/Armageddon.”

    • Bitcoin Pete says:


      One can also make multiple copies of paper wallets and store them in separate locations. Each wallet can also be broken up into multiple parts so that discovery or access to one location is insufficient to redeem the private keys.

      Multiple solutions exist, any of which gives users control and security over their private keys, and none of which appear to have been employed by Usagi.

  2. John Kypri says:

    Pete, just writing a letter to Kashmir Hill of Forbes who asked me a few questions regarding my take on Maidsafe, I was hoping I could cc you into the conversation as I’m hoping I can steer her article in an anti 2.0/appcoin direction? if that’s OK let me know your email address.

  3. Bitcoin Pete says:

    Usagi has been entertaining for a long, long time in the Bitcoin space:

  4. […] forum scammers could rake in coins by the hundreds, they’re now reduced to, at most, 25 BTC. Can you hear that? That’s the sound of the bottom of the barrel being scraped. […]

  5. […] to the fall of Ancient Babylon just as they’ve led to security breaches at, usagi industries, and countless […]

  6. […] There’s no time to negotiate? Are the candidates’ moms waiting in the 10-minute loading zone out front?? No matter. That’s their business and they’re sticking to it. And who knows, maybe they don’t lose their shirts behaving like Usagi. […]

  7. […] to the fall of Ancient Babylon just as they’ve led to security breaches at, usagi industries, and countless […]

  8. […] development, and of course Bitcoin spaces. It’s not hard to be up-to-fucking-here with the sea of idiots and their infantile pretenses dragging down the glory of the Connected Age, y’know ? Eh, not […]

  9. […] in a little WoT history, mats is only the second person I’ve negrated in the past ~2 years. Usagi, for being similarly stubborn about his ignorance, was the first. […]

  10. […] Usagi, SBF, etc. etc. It might even seem like “everyone” in crypto is turns to grifting at […]

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