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How to Backup or Export an SSL Certificate with the Private Key

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In certain circumstances, you may want to back up or export your SSL certificate and its private key. You may want to do so to install and use it on a different server or just store it on removable media or because it is corrupted. Many believe that it is impossible to export an SSL certificate, but they are wrong as it is possible to export an SSL certificate along with its private key.

Irrespective of the web server you are using, you can back up and export your SSL certificate and its private key. This article explains how to back up your SSL certificate in Microsoft, Tomcat, and Apache.

How to Backup or Export an SSL Certificate in Microsoft IIS

Start with creating a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Snap-in by following the steps provided below.
  • Head to Start > run > MMC.
  • Go to the console tab and click on File and then Add/Remove Snap-in.
  • Select Certificate and click on Add, under the Available Snap-Ins column.
  • Hit Next after selecting Computer Account.
  • Click on Choose Local Computer > Finish.
  • Once this is done, click OK on the Add/Remove Snap-in window after closing the Add Standalone Snap-in window.
Now, you are all set to export your SSL certificate.
  • Open the Certificates snap-in > Personal and head to Certificates from the left-hand pane.
  • From the list of certificates, right-click on the one you wish to export.
  • Head to All Tasks and click on Export.
  • In the Certificate Export Wizard that opens up, click on Yes, export the private key and click Next. You will now see the Export File Format window.
  • Select the option for Personal Information Exchange — PKCS#12 (.pfx).
  • Check the Include all certificates in the certificate path box.
  • Make sure Require Strong Encryption is deselected.
  • Protect your PFX using a password and hit Next.
  • You can now choose the location where you wish to export the file, after choosing a file name. Hit Next to proceed.
  • You are almost done. All you need to do now is to check if all the information is correct and click on Finish.

How to Export or Backup an SSL Certificate in Apache

As Apache does not store the SSL certificate and its private key as a single file, you must first locate the certificate and private key files. You can find the location of these files in your configuration. Use the following to find the location of the files.
  • SSLCertificateFIle /path to/my_SSL_Certificate.crt
  • SSLCertificateKeyFile /path to/key file that was created using the CSR.key
Copy the .crt and .key files in a secure location. You can now copy the files you copied across to the new Apache server.

How to Export or Backup an SSL Certificate in Tomcat

When compared to the other two platforms above, exporting an SSL with its private key in Tomcat is simple. Follow the steps below to back up your SSL certificate in Tomcat.
  • Start with getting to the location of your keystore.
  • This keystore file contains the public and private keys, so make a copy of this file.
  • Now, install the keystore file you just copied on a different Tomcat server.
You are now all set to export your SSL certificate with its private key.

Wrapping Up

You might want to back up or export your SSL certificate and its private key to use it on a different server or because it is corrupted. Like many thinks, it is not impossible to back up or export an SSL certificate. All you need to do is to follow the instructions provided in this article to securely back up or export your SSL certificate with its private key.
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