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Years ago I had to use a digital certificate for access to some web based application at college. It was provided by the "laboratory" where we used it. Presently it so happened that I will need to use the same one again, but have no clue as to where on hard drive it is located. However I am sure it is still hanging somewhere on the drive.

So I would like to know, how do I search for one in Windows 7 ? Is it simply done by using the windows explorer search for a specific extension ? And will I be able to simply reuse it after I find it without any authentication issues ? Thank you.

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Certificates normally expire. Do you know when this certificate was valid until? – Ramhound May 4 '14 at 23:12
@Ramhound - I don't know the exact validity length, but I know it is long enough, so this won't be a problem. Problem may be the password. But that is a different kind of issue that I must deal with myself. – James C May 4 '14 at 23:16
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Certificates can have many file types, depending on what kind of certificate it was. Some of them are:

  • .PFX - PKCS#12 archive
  • .P7B - PKCS#7 archive
  • .SPC - Software publisher certificate
  • .DER - DER encoded certificates
  • .CRT - X.509 certificate, base-64 encoded
  • .CER - X.509 certificate
  • .PEM - Privacy-enhanced electronic mail

To quickly (!) search for any files by parts of the file name I recommend Search Everything. Just type whatever you know about the file name and it will find it.

There are some things to remember:

  • Certificates often have a life time between 1 and 3 years, especially if it was an official (trusted) certificate. So if your certificate was issued "years ago", it might not be valid any more.
  • To use the certificate, you need the private key and the password for the private key. If you didn't use it for a long time, you might have forgotten the password.
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Thomas has already listed the appropriate extensions but there is a simple way to search that doesn't need additional software.

Simply use the CMD function DIR

> dir c:\*.pfx /s

The above will trawl through your C: drive looking for pfx files. It may take a while but it will certainly find them and report what folder they are in. This isn't dependent on Windows Indexing either.

I'm afraid that Thomas is also right about the other issues you are likely to hit.

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