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I had a windows 2003 domain controller fail. The power supply went and took averything with it. Luckily, I have 2 other domain controllers. The only sticking point is that the server that failed was the certificate authority. I do not plan on replacing the server. Do I need to have a certificate authority? What will happen if I don't replace it?

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Look here for details about replacing it if you need to: – Evan Anderson Aug 2 '12 at 21:56

You need a certificate authority if you do certificate-based authentication.

Most commonly, this is done for 802.1X compliant network access protection, such as "enterprise-WPA/2" encryption on wireless networks. You may also use CAs for your WSUS server, or to issue SSL/HTTPS certs to internal "websites" or services, or any number of other things. Therefore, the safest approach to figuring out if you need a CA is probably going to be to check the certificate stores on some client machines, and see if your CA actually issued any certificates for anything that's still in use. (It's an MMC snap-in, Add/Remove -> Certificates on the client machine(s), and you can browse the certificate store like a file & folder tree.)

If you don't use certificate-bases security, though, you don't need a Certificate Authority, simple as that.

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The only certificates that I remember seeing were issued to domain controllers. I used to have one for OWA, but have replaced it with a commercial certificate. – Tom A Aug 2 '12 at 21:47
@TomA Then you should be alright, but I'd check just to be safe. I've seen then pop up in the weirdest places for the dumbest reasons, and cause big headaches when something suddenly stopped working for no apparent reason. – HopelessN00b Aug 2 '12 at 21:50

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