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Where is the 'User Profile' file, and how can I access and view its contents?

When answering a previous question regarding an unrestorable encrypted file you stated: "you used EFS to encrypt the files, then the certificate was created and stored, along with the private key (necessary to decrypt) in your user profile." My question: where is the "User Profile" file kept and how can I access and view its contents?
The user profile is located under the Documents and Settings folder in Windows XP and Windows 2000 and Window Server. You'll find one folder for each user who has successfully logged on at the computer as well as folders for All Users and Default User -- two profiles used to supplement the individual user profile and in the creation of a new profile. You can browse the contents of the profile folders in explorer. The crypto keys, such as the one used for EFS are stored in the CryptoRSA folder and should not be manually manipulated. You cannot use the GUI to work with the keys. Instead you should use the certificate snap-in to backup the keys. You can read more about private keys at

This was first published in February 2004

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