On a Windows 2000 server that has been in production since 2002 the C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\Crypto\RSA\MachineKeys folder has a few hundred thousand files in it with the Modified/Created/Accessed time stamps dating as far back as 2002 when the server was installed. Is it OK to clear down all these old files?

Thanks Gary

  • What kind of files? I checked one server I have access to, and it contains only 35 (key) files. – splattne Jul 13 '09 at 11:02
  • They are just the key files with names such as 786999f5617b331428135848d30802a1_0c794e15-775c-4bd9-b203-93f3368b140c etc. – garyLynch Jul 13 '09 at 13:48

check how many certificates you have in Machine's personal store.

Start > Run > MMC.exe > file menu > Add/remove snap-in > add > select certificates > Select "Computer Account" > Finish

From Left Pane > Personal > Certificates

see if you can remove certs from there.


Just take a backup and delete what you think is old enough to discard. Restart the server. and keep watch for anything breaks.


If you want to be very much sure of it that you delete correct files. Monitor if any process/service is using any of those files. I would just start the process monitor or file monitor from sysinternals and then configure it to filter access to that folder and keep it running for few days. This should give very good idea of which files among those thousands are being used.

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