Backup Windows Encrypting File System certificates

When making copies of encrypted files (not to be confused with encrypted Zip files) you also need to backup the encryption certificates. This is so the encrypted files can be restored at a later date.

On Windows XPWindows Vista/7 Business, Ultimate, and Enterprise (this feature is not available on Vista/7 Starter, Home Basic, or Home Premium):
  1. Open the Start Menu.
  2. In the white line (Start Search) area, type certmgr.msc and press Enter.
  3. In the left pane, click the arrow next to the Personal folder to expand it and click on Certificates.
  4. In the right pane, right click the certificate that lists Encrypting File System under Intended Purposes (if there is more than one EFS certificate, you should back up all of them).
  5. Click the Action menu, point to All Tasks, and then click Export.
  6. In the Export wizard, click Next, click Yes, export the private key, and then click Next.
  7. Click Personal Information Exchange, and then click Next.
  8. Type the password you want to use, confirm it, and then click Next. Store this password in a safe location as it is required when you restore the certificate!
  9. The export process will create a file to store the certificate.
  10. Enter a name for the file and the location (include the whole path) or click Browse and navigate to the location, and then enter the file name.
  11. Click Finish. Store the backup copy of your EFS certificate in a safe place!
After you restore your encrypted files, e.g. using SyncBackPro, you'll need to re-import the encryption certificates. To do this:
  1. Open the Start Menu.
  2. In the white line (Start Search) area, type certmgr.msc and press Enter.
  3. In the left pane, click on the Personal folder
  4. Click the Action menu, point to All Tasks, and then click Import. This opens the Certificate Import Wizard.
  5. Click Next.
  6. Type the location of the file that contains the certificate, or click Browse and navigate to the file's location, and then click Next.
  7. If you have navigated to the right location but don't see the certificate you are importing, then, in the list next to the File name box, click Personal Information Exchange.
  8. Type the password, select the Mark this key as exportable check box, and then click Next.
  9. Do not enable strong private key protection.
  10. Click Place all certificates in the following store, confirm that the Personal store is indicated, click Next, and then click Finish.
  11. After you import the certificate, you should have access to the encrypted files.

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