Microsoft

Back up Windows 2000's certificates to prevent system failure

It's important to back up Windows' digital certificates to protect against a system failure and to make it possible to easily move the certificates to another computer if needed. In this Windows 2000 Professional tip, you'll learn how to back up certificates with IE.

Windows 2000 can use digital certificates for authentication, digitally signing messages, exchanging encrypted e-mail messages, encrypting files, and other purposes. The certificates are stored on the computer in a certificate store, which organizes the certificates by intended purpose and source. For example, all of the certificates from trusted root certification authorities are stored in the same area of the store.

It's a good idea to back up the certificates to protect against a system failure and to make it possible to easily move the certificates to another computer if needed. Windows offers multiple tools for managing certificates, including the Certificates MMC console snap-in, Internet Explorer, and Outlook Express. Use the following steps to back up certificates with Internet Explorer:

  1. Open Internet Explorer and choose Tools | Internet Options.
  2. Click the Content tab, and then click Certificates.
  3. From the Intended Purpose drop-down list, choose All.
  4. Click on the tab that identifies the area of the certificate store where the certificates to be backed up are located. For example, click the Personal tab to back up personal certificates.
  5. Click a certificate in the list and click Export to start the Certificate Export Wizard.
  6. Choose Yes, export the private key, and click Next.
  7. Accept the default settings for Export File Format and click Next.
  8. Specify a password to protect the certificate file and click Next.
  9. Specify a file name for the certificate and click Next, then click Finish.

With the certificate now stored in a file, back up the file to a safe location such as a secure network share, floppy disk (secured in a safe location), or other media. You can restore the certificate to the computer later or install it on another computer by importing the certificate from the backup copy.

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