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I'm creating and installing an SSL certificate via command line for the first time and have a question.

I've created the csr via openssl req –new –newkey rsa:2048 –nodes –keyout server.key –out server.csr

This generates a csr and private key file. After the ssl is installed, do I need to retain these files on the server? Does the creation request store the private key elsewhere or do I need to retain these?

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Once your request has been signed and you received the certificate, you don't need to keep the request (.csr file) any more. You can delete it.

You DO need to keep the private key. Your services will need it to answer cryptographic challenges to prove that they're who they say they are in the certificate. Make sure it's not globally readable - store it with the barest minimum possible permissions that your services need to read it.

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