After browsing around, it would appear that before I start using the Encrypting File System, it should export my user key for recovery of that data if I have to reinstall windows. I think I have it figured out, but I'm not sure. Here's what I did: I opened up the "console" by typing 'mmc' into the "run" prompt. I added the "certificates" snap-in. I then copied my user certificate from the "personal certificates" store into the "Trusted Root Certification Authorities" store. (in order to make the private key exportable). I exported the copied certificate (including the private key) into a .PFX file. To restore the certificate after a reinstallation of windows, am I to open the .PFX file (which launches the certificate import wizard), select "Automatically select certificate store based on the type of certificate)? Will this give me access to my encrypted files if I have to reinstall? If I've gone about this all wrong, please let me know and tell me how I can do it correctly.