Steps to Import and Export SSL (PFX) file in IIS

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Import Export SSL PFX File

A step-by-step instructions to import and export SSL certificate (PFX) file in IIS 7 and 8

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer and is a method of establishing an encrypted connection between two computers across the internet. A digital certificate contains information that identifies an organization or individual and allows them to secure a website by encrypting data sent to and from it. When configuring an SSL connection in IIS, you will need to import or export SSL certificate (PFX file) from the server.

To ensure the functioning of your SSL certificate, both public and private keys must be preserved. Conveniently, Windows servers store these two files in a single PFX format. If you wish to transfer an SSL security certificate from one machine to another, it is necessary that you create a .pfx file backup.

This guide will walk you through the process of how to export SSL certificates (PFX file) from IIS and how to import them into IIS.

What is SSL?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is a protocol used for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and your browser. It helps ensure secure data transmission between the two computers and is necessary for any website that wants to handle sensitive information such as credit card numbers or passwords. SSL certificates are used to create an encrypted connection, making sure all of the data sent from one computer to another is safe from malicious actors.

Suppose you are setting up an SSL on your website. In that case, you will need to obtain a certificate from a trusted Certificate Authority (CA) and install it onto the web server so that visitors can establish an encrypted connection with your website.

Securely protecting your data is critical, and the PFX format helps you do that. This binary file stores a server certificate, intermediate certificates, and your private key in one encryptable package – usually with .pfx or .p12 extensions. Plus, it’s simple to import & export across Windows or macOS systems for added convenience!

Why Do You Need to Import or Export an SSL File?

There are two main reasons why you may need to import or export an SSL file:

When upgrading the hardware, it is essential to export the certificate and its associated private key from the server before you begin. That way, if something goes wrong during the process, you can import it back onto the old server without any downtime.

If you are troubleshooting a website issue and need to quickly turn off or disable your SSL certificate without affecting other settings, then exporting and importing an SSL file is also a great option. It allows you to quickly toggle between different security configurations without having to make any permanent changes.

How to Export and Save an SSL Certificate in IIS?

  1. Begin by typing MMC into the Start menu and click OK.
  2. To enable the changes you’ve requested, simply select ‘Yes’ when prompted in the User Account Control window!
  3. To access the Add/Remove Snap-in feature, open the Console window and select File from the top menu.
  4. In the Add or Remove Snap-ins window, locate Certificates under Available snap-ins and click “Add” to get started.
  5. Head over to the Certificates snap-in window and select Computer account. Then, click Next to continue on through the process.
  6. In the Select Computer window, choose your current computer by selecting “Local computer” and click on Finish. Voila! You’re done!
  7. To finish the process, click ‘OK’ in the Add or Remove Snap-ins window.
  8. To find the certificate file, launch your Console window and navigate to the Console Root folder. After opening Certificates (Local Computer), it will be in either the Personal or Web Hosting folder.
  9. To export the desired certificate file, simply right-click it and select ‘All Tasks’ > ‘Exports.’
  10. Advance to the next page in the Certificate Export Wizard by clicking “Next” on the Welcome page.
  11. On the Export Private Key page, check Yes to export the private key and then click Next.
  12. While on the Export File Format page, select Personal Information Exchange. Make sure to check ‘Include all certificates in the certification path if possible’ before clicking Next to continue.
  13. In the security field, input a secure password and click ‘Next’ to proceed.
  14. Navigate to the folder where you want to save your exported certificate and click “Next” for further instructions.
  15. On the Completing the Certificate Export Wizard page, verify that your settings are accurate and then click Finish to complete the process.

How to Import an Existing SSL Certificate in IIS?

  1. To launch the Microsoft Management Console, go to your Start menu, type MMC and click OK.
  2. To confirm, click ‘Yes’ in the User Account Control window.
  3. To add or remove snap-ins in the Console window, navigate to File at the top of your menu and select Add/Remove Snap-in.
  4. To obtain your Certificate snap-in, go to the Add or Remove Snap-ins window and locate it in the Available snap-ins section. Then simply click ‘Add’ so that you can easily access it!
  5. To begin, open the Certificates snap-in window and select your computer account. Then click ‘Next’ to continue!
  6. To complete the process, select the “Local computer” option in the Select Computer window and hit “Finish“.
  7. Click “OK” in the Add or Remove Snap-ins window to confirm your changes.
  8. By navigating to the Console and expanding the Certificates (Local Computer) folder, you can locate your certificate file in either the Personal or Web Hosting directory.
  9. To import a certificate, simply right-click the file and select “All Tasks > Import” from the options.
  10. To advance to the next step, click “Next” on the Welcome to the Certificate Import Wizard page.
  11. To import your primary SSL certificate from the PFX file, simply follow the given instructions!
  12. At the Certificate Store page, opt for “Automatically select the certificate store based on the type of certificate” to ensure ease and accuracy.
  13. Carefully inspect your settings and then hit Finish for completion.

Troubleshooting Tips

  • If your certificate is not showing up in the list, try different browsers. Check to make sure all server settings are configured correctly and that you’re using a valid IP address for the domain. Additionally, enable TLS 1.2 protocol on IIS and restart the web server.
  • If you experience any issues when exporting or importing your certificate, compare the data with other certificates to determine if something went wrong during transmission. If it’s still not working properly, contact your SSL certificate provider for further assistance!
  • Finally, don’t forget to back up your certificate file before making any changes! This way, you’ll have an extra copy of your information just in case something goes wrong while installing/upgrading/migrating/uninstalling. This can help save you from a world of headaches in the future.


Exporting and importing SSL certificates in IIS can be a complicated process – but with the right information and tools, it doesn’t have to be! By following the steps outlined above, you can easily export and import your certificate files without any hassle. If you’re looking to export the IIS certificate, contact our experts today!

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a Cyber-Security Enthusiast who constantly updates herself with new advancements in the Web/Cyber Security niche. Along with theoretical knowledge, she also implements her practical expertise in day-to-day tasks and helps others to protect themselves from threats.

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