PEM File Extension

PEM file icon
Privacy Enhanced Mail Certificate
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    3.9 (10 votes)

What is PEM file?

PEM file extension is used by certificate files to store and transport cryptographic keys, certificates and other types of data. Binary PEM files are base64-encoded and store data in ASCII text format.

How PEM certificates are used

PEM-encoded certificate files are frequently used on internet servers as they are easy to view using any standard text editor. PEM files are used for authenticating trusted website and are usually imported from a Unix-based Apache webserver. PEM certificates can also be used to send private emails as they guarantee the message has not been tempered with during transport, and that the message comes from legitimate source.

PEM format security

PEM certificate uses digitally-signed public key for security purposes. Authentication process uses public key to identify the owner of the key and confirm they are the person they claim to be.

Limited popularity of PEM format

In short time the PEM format became and IETF standard, although this status did not bring it popularity. PEM has since then been replaced by newer, more secure technologies.

Additional information

  1. PEM files are supported by OpenSSL applications.
  2. Opening PEM file with text editor clearly shows marked headers and footers code sections.

Programs which support PEM file extension

The following list contains programs grouped by 3 operating systems that support PEM files. Files with PEM suffix can be copied to any mobile device or system platform, but it may not be possible to open them properly on target system.

Updated: 12/31/2019

How to open file with PEM extension?

Problems with accessing PEM may be due to various reasons. What is important, all common issues related to files with PEM extension can be resolved by the users themselves. The process is quick and doesn’t involve an IT expert. The list below will guide you through the process of addressing the encountered problem.

Step 1. Get the Microsoft IIS

Problems with opening and working with PEM files are most probably having to do with no proper software compatible with PEM files being present on your machine. The most obvious solution is to download and install Microsoft IIS or one to the listed programs: Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Microsoft Outlook. The full list of programs grouped by operating systems can be found above. The safest method of downloading Microsoft IIS installed is by going to developer’s website (Microsoft Corporation) and downloading the software using provided links.

Step 2. Check the version of Microsoft IIS and update if needed

If you already have Microsoft IIS installed on your systems and PEM files are still not opened properly, check if you have the latest version of the software. Software developers may implement support for more modern file formats in updated versions of their products. The reason that Microsoft IIS cannot handle files with PEM may be that the software is outdated. All of the file formats that were handled just fine by the previous versions of given program should be also possible to open using Microsoft IIS.

Step 3. Assign Microsoft IIS to PEM files

If you have the latest version of Microsoft IIS installed and the problem persists, select it as the default program to be used to manage PEM on your device. The next step should pose no problems. The procedure is straightforward and largely system-independent

Change the default application in Windows

  • Choose the Open with entry from the file menu accessed by right-mouse clicking on the PEM file
  • Next, select the Choose another app option and then using More apps open the list of available applications
  • To finalize the process, select Look for another app on this PC entry and using the file explorer select the Microsoft IIS installation folder. Confirm by checking Always use this app to open PEM files box and clicking OK button.

Change the default application in Mac OS

  • Right-click the PEM file and select Information
  • Proceed to the Open with section. If its closed, click the title to access available options
  • Select the appropriate software and save your settings by clicking Change all
  • A message window should appear informing that This change will be applied to all files with PEM extension. By clicking Continue you confirm your selection.

Step 4. Ensure that the PEM file is complete and free of errors

If you followed the instructions form the previous steps yet the issue is still not solved, you should verify the PEM file in question. Being unable to access the file can be related to various issues.

1. Verify that the PEM in question is not infected with a computer virus

If the PEM is indeed infected, it is possible that the malware is blocking it from opening. Immediately scan the file using an antivirus tool or scan the whole system to ensure the whole system is safe. PEM file is infected with malware? Follow the steps suggested by your antivirus software.

2. Check whether the file is corrupted or damaged

If you obtained the problematic PEM file from a third party, ask them to supply you with another copy. During the copy process of the file errors may occurred rendering the file incomplete or corrupted. This could be the source of encountered problems with the file. It could happen the the download process of file with PEM extension was interrupted and the file data is defective. Download the file again from the same source.

3. Ensure that you have appropriate access rights

Some files require elevated access rights to open them. Log out of your current account and log in to an account with sufficient access privileges. Then open the Privacy Enhanced Mail Certificate file.

4. Verify that your device fulfills the requirements to be able to open Microsoft IIS

If the system is under havy load, it may not be able to handle the program that you use to open files with PEM extension. In this case close the other applications.

5. Check if you have the latest updates to the operating system and drivers

Up-to-date system and drivers not only makes your computer more secure, but also may solve problems with Privacy Enhanced Mail Certificate file. Outdated drivers or software may have caused the inability to use a peripheral device needed to handle PEM files.

Do you want to help?

If you have additional information about the PEM file, we will be grateful if you share it with our users. To do this, use the form here and send us your information on PEM file.

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