Where are digital certificates stored?

digital certificate

Windows 10 has various security mechanisms that can be used to validate the authenticity of data. digital certificates. These are delicate documents that must be kept in a safe place so that they do not fall into the wrong hands. That is why it is important to know how and where the digital certificates we use are stored.

Windows 11 password
Related article:
How to password protect files in Windows 11

What is a digital certificate?

A digital certificate is fundamentally a means that certifies the real identity of a person on the Internet. It is a very useful tool in the world we live in today, increasingly digitized.

In fact, in certain areas, such as in the business world or in the field of relations with the different administrations, its use is becoming more and more common. And everything indicates that its use will be extended every time more thanks to the generalization of the home working and the development of telematic media.

Digital certificates contain a series of identification data previously authenticated by an official body. It is precisely this authentication what is needed to execute the electronic signature of documents.

It must be said that the use of digital certificates is the only method to interact with public administrations online one hundred percent safe, provided that these are duly protected by a PIN or password and thus do not fall into the hands of third parties.

Certificate store

certified warehouse

The answer to the question of where digital certificates are stored in Windows could not be more obvious: in the certificate store or manager. The location of this store is protected by a series of keys in the registry that in turn correspond to files.

Edge, Internet Explorer, and Chrome browsers, as well as most applications, use the Windows certificate store. Instead, Firefox uses its own certificate store.

To access the certificate store in Windows 10 quickly and directly we have to use the tool “Manage User Certificates”. It can be accessed simply by typing it in the same Windows search engine.

Some basic security recommendations are as follows:

  • Act quickly. always have a password-protected copy of all our personal digital certificates, private key included.
  • It is convenient that this copy is housed in a safe location like an external hard drive not connected to our computer.
  • It is very practical to have the certificate loaded in the Windows certificate store (or in the keychain, if we are talking about Mac), well protected with a password.

Find digital certificates in Windows

The easiest way to manage certificates is to open the search bar and type in it certlm.msc. In this way, the administrator window will open, in which we will be able to see all the digital certificates installed on the computer, organized in different folders and categories: personal certificates, client authentication, business trust, trusted persons, entities , etc.

To refine the search so that only personal certificates are displayed, we will use the Win + R key combination, resorting to the command certmgr.msc. This will open a new window, with a similar appearance to the previous one, although in it we will only find the personal certificates, that is, those exclusive to our user (for example those of the FNMT, the DGT, etc.), grouped within the "Personal" folder.

windows registry editor

There is also the possibility of seeing all the digital certificates that are installed on our computer from the Registry Editor (in the image above). To start it, press the key combination again Windows + R, to write regedit and press Enter.

This will open the Registry Editor window. Moving through it we will access the configuration of the different types of certificates.

An example: to show personal certificates we will follow this path: HKEY_CURRENT_USER / Software / Microsoft / SystemCertificates / CA / Certificates. As you can see, it is a very precise tool, but it is only recommended for Windows users with somewhat more advanced knowledge.

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