HOW TO: Reconstruct Your Private Key for Windows


Article ID: 180130


Updated On:


Symantec Products




This article provides step-by-step instructions for reconstructing a private key using PGP Desktop 9.x for Windows.

When managed by a PGP Universal Server, PGP Desktop 9.x provides a secure recovery mechanism for private keys, called Key Reconstruction. As its name suggests, Key Reconstruction can be used to reconstruct (or restore) your private key if you have forgotten its passphrase, or if you have deleted your private key.

To take advantage of Key Reconstruction, you send key reconstruction data to a reconstruction server (a PGP Universal Server that is managing your PGP Desktop) while you still have your private key and remember its passphrase. The reconstruction data for your private key consists of five questions, that you may create, and five answers that only you know. After you have sent your reconstruction questions and answers to the server, you may reconstruct your private key at any time by answering 3 of the 5 questions correctly. If you have deleted your private key or forgotten its passphrase before sending reconstruction questions and answers to the server, you cannot regain your private key using Key Reconstruction.

Reconstruct Your Private Key

  1. Click the PGP Tray lock icon in your system tray and then click Open PGP Desktop:
  2. Click the PGP Keys control box.
  3. Select the keyring that contains your key.
  4. Click the key that you wish to reconstruct.

    Note: To reconstruct a private key, you must have its associated public key on your keyring. If you don't have a copy of your public key, you might try downloading it from a key server, such as your PGP Universal Server or the PGP Global Directory. Otherwise, contact your administrator to obtain a copy of your public key.

  5. Now click the Keys menu and click Reconstruct:
  6. Answer 3 of the 5 key reconstruction questions correctly, then click OK:

    Note: The answers are case sensitive, and must be entered precisely as they were when you first sent them to the server. If you are certain that nobody can see your screen, you might want to check the box labeled Show Keystrokes, so that you can verify your answers.

  7. After you have answered 3 of the 5 key reconstruction questions correctly, you must enter and confirm a new passphrase for your private key, then click OK.
  8. When you are notified that key reconstruction was successful, click OK.