Install Active Directory Certificate Services

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Essential Business Server, Windows SBS 2003, Windows SBS 2008, Windows Server 2000, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista

To use certificates in a server isolation or domain isolation design, you must first set up the infrastructure to deploy the certificates. This is called a public key infrastructure (PKI). The services required for a PKI are available in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 in the form of the Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS) role.


Creation of a full PKI for an enterprise environment with all of the appropriate security considerations included in the design is beyond the scope of this guide. The following procedure shows you only the basics of installing an issuing certificate server; it is appropriate for a test lab environment only. For more information about deploying AD CS in a production environment, see Active Directory Certificate Services in the Windows Server 2008 Technical Library (

To perform this procedure, the computer on which you are installing AD CS must be joined to an Active Directory domain.

Administrative credentials

To complete this procedure, you must be a member of both the Domain Admins group in the root domain of your forest, and a member of the Enterprise Admins group.

To install AD CS

  1. Log on as a member of both the Enterprise Admins group and the root domain's Domain Admins group.

  2. Click Start, click Administrative Tools, and then click Server Manager. The Server Manager console opens. In Roles Summary, click Add roles.

  3. Right-click Roles, and then click Add Roles. The Add Roles Wizard opens. Click Next.

  4. On the Select Server Roles page, in Roles, select Active Directory Certificate Services, and then click Next twice.

  5. On the Select Role Services page, in Role services, verify that Certification Authority is selected, and then click Next.

  6. On the Specify Setup Type page, verify that Enterprise is selected, and then click Next.

  7. On the Specify CA Type page, verify that Root CA is selected, and then click Next.

  8. On the Set Up Private Key page, verify that Create a new private key is selected, and then click Next.

  9. On the Configure Cryptography for CA page, keep the default settings for CSP (RSA#Microsoft Software Key Storage Provider) and hash algorithm (sha1), and determine the best key character length for your deployment. Large key character lengths provide optimal security, but they can affect server performance. It is recommended that you keep the default setting of 2048 or, if appropriate for your deployment, reduce key character length to 1024. Click Next.

  10. On the Configure CA Name page, keep the suggested common name for the CA or change the name according to your requirements, and then click Next.

  11. On the Set Validity Period page, in Select validity period for the certificate generated for this CA, type the number and select a time value (Years, Months, Weeks, or Days). The default setting of five years is recommended. Click Next.

  12. On the Configure Certificate Database page, in Certificate database location and Certificate database log location, specify the folder location for these items. If you specify locations other than the default locations, make sure that the folders are secured with access control lists (ACLs) that prevent unauthorized users or computers from accessing the CA database and log files.

  13. Click Next, click Install, and then click Close.