Backup Encrypting File System Certificates - Page 1 of 2


Do you use Windows EFS (encrypting file system) to protect the confidentiality of information stored on a computer? If you use EFS you need to backup the "certificate" EFS uses for encryption and decryption. If you loose your certificate or it becomes corrupted you cannot access your files. In this tutorial I show you how to backup an "EFS certificate". I also offer suggestions on how to store an EFS certificate once you back it up.

Relevant Versions of Windows

Not all versions of the Windows operating system support the use of EFS (encrypting file system). This tutorial discusses how to backup EFS certificates. The tutorial is written for the following Windows operating systems:
  • Windows Vista Ultimate, Business and Enterprise editions
  • Windows 7 Ultimate, Professional and Enterprise editions
  • Windows 8 and 8.1 Pro and Enterprise editions

This tutorial is intended for SOHO (small office, home office) and home computer users not joined to a "Windows Domain". If you work for a company that has a separate IT department be sure to contact them before using EFS or any other type of encryption.

Backup EFS Certificates

This tutorial was written using Windows 7. To backup EFS (encrypting file system) certificates:
  • Click the Windows "Start" button
  • Type certmgr.msc into the search box. (Provide an administrator password or confirmation if requested)
  • Press the "Enter" key to open "Certificate Manager". (see image below)

Encrypting File System Certificate Manager

  • Left click the arrow next to the "Personal" folder in the left pane.
  • Left click the "Certificates" folder that appears.
  • Left click on the certificate in the right hand window with your user name listed . Your username will be listed under the "Issued To" column. For this tutorial the username is "user".
Verify the certificate lists "Encrypting File System" under the "Intended Purposes" column heading. You may need to scroll to the right to see the Intended Purposes column. (see image below)

Encrypting File System Certificate Manager
  • Click the word "Action" at the top of the Certificate Manager.
  • Point to "All Tasks
  • Left click "Export..." at the bottom of the menu.

The "Certificate Export Wizard" will begin. (see image below)
  • Left click the "Next" button. (see image below)

Encrypting File System Certificate Export Wizard

  • Left click to choose "Yes, export the private key".
  • Left click the "Next" button.

Encrypting File System Certificate Export Wizard

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