What is the best way to upgrade an OpenPGP key that was created 11 years ago? It's 1024-bit and is published on the key server.

I can create a new key, but what's the proper way to update the existing public key on the server?

  • What exactly do you want to upgrade/update?
    – unor
    Jan 8, 2015 at 14:51

1 Answer 1


This question has a duplicate on Super User, where I also provided an answer. As the question is a better fit here and cross-site duplicates are not allowed, I will simply be repeating it here, extending it a little bit.

There is no way to "upgrade" an OpenPGP key. You will have to create a new one, and you will loose your reputation in the web of trust.

Some people I met decided to stick with a RSA 1024 primary key, but use stronger subkeys instead (which is easily possible without losing your reputation in the web of trust), which comes with secure day-to-day use (for encryption/signing documents with your subkeys), but might enable attackers to add and revoke certifications, subkeys and UIDs.

Think about:

  • Signing your new key with the old one, so others could follow the signatures
  • Sending a key transition statement to those that signed your old key; some of them might also sign your new one
  • Getting your new key signed, ie. go to key signing parties
  • Revoking the old one after some time
  • Using a seemingly unnecessary large key as primary key and smaller subkeys for day-to-day usage. You will never need the primary key for anything but signing other keys (which is rare) and others verifying your signatures (cheap anyway).

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