Where are the Windows configuration and log files?

In most cases, there is no need to open the Tailscale configuration or log files, but in the event that is required, the Windows client uses data in 3 locations:

  1. User account AppData
  2. System account AppData
  3. Local system registry

User Account AppData

The user account AppData directory is typically located in C:\Users\(your username)\AppData\Local\Tailscale. Normally, the AppData directory is hidden in Windows Explorer, so it may be difficult to find. One way is to hold the Windows logo key and press “R”. Type in %LOCALAPPDATA%\Tailscale and click OK.

In this directory, there are several files and one directory:

  • prefs.conf contains the settings for this computer. Do not copy this file between computers as it contains the private keys identifying this computer to others on the Tailscale network.
  • tailscale-ipn.log.conf contains the identifiers used by our log collection server to recognize your computer when it uploads its logs.
  • tailscale-ipn.log1.txt and tailscale-ipn.log2.txt contain temporary log messages that are not yet uploaded or saved elsewhere and thus are usually empty.

System Service ProgramData

The Tailscale service data directory is typically located in C:\ProgramData\Tailscale. Occasionally, the ProgramData directory will be in a different location; if it is not in C:\ProgramData, look for the %ProgramData% environment variable.

Normally, you will not have access to the Tailscale directory under ProgramData because it contains private keys. If you need to access these files you will first have to grant yourself permission (which is only possible if you have an administrator account). If you navigate to the directory in Windows Explorer, it will present a prompt that will grant you permission. Or, if you wish to inspect the contents without granting yourself permission, you can access it using PowerShell as an Administrator:

  1. Right click on the start menu and choose Windows PowerShell (Admin)
  2. Click Yes to confirm running as administrator
  3. Type
    cd $Env:ProgramData\Tailscale
    
  4. Type dir

In this directory, there are several files and one directory:

  • server-state.conf contains the settings for the “Unattended mode” feature and the key that identifies this computer to the login server.
  • tailscale-ipn.log.conf contains the identifiers used by our log collection server to recognize your computer when it uploads its logs.
  • tailscale-ipn.log1.txt and tailscale-ipn.log2.txt contain temporary log messages that are not yet uploaded or saved elsewhere and thus are usually empty.
  • The Logs directory contains the logs from the Windows Service process.

Local system registry

Registry values are kept in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Tailscale IPN

By default there are 3 values:

  • The (Default) value contains the install location of the Tailscale client
  • The SearchList value contains the DNS search list when logged into a domain using the Tailscale DNS feature.
  • The seed value is not currently used.

Optionally, several values can be created, all of which are String type:

  • The LoginURL value contains the URL of the login server. The default value is https://login.tailscale.com.
  • The LogTarget value contains the URL of the log server. The default value is https://log.tailscale.io.

Preference policies can be set to always, never and user-decides. If set to always or never, the options are set by the administrator and not visible in the system tray menu. If unset or set to user-decides then the option is visible in the system tray menu.

  • AllowIncomingConnections controls the Allow Incoming Connections menu option
  • UnattendedMode controls the Unattended Mode menu option

Visibility policies can be set to “hide” or “show”. If set to “hide” then the menu item is not visible. If set to “show” or unset, then the menu item is visible.

  • AdminConsole controls the Admin Console menu item
  • NetworkDevices controls the Network Devices submenu
  • TestMenu controls if the test/debug menu items are visible when opening the tray menu while holding shift or ctrl.
  • UpdateMenu controls the Update Tailscale menu item

Duration policies control a duration or timeout. The time can be set using units of hours and minutes. Examples:

  • 168h: 1 week
  • 24h: 1 day
  • 1h5m: 1 hour, 5 minutes
  • 30m: half hour
  • Smaller time units are available but unlikely to be useful. Non-negative values accepted by the Go time.ParseDuration function are supported.

Current duration policies:

  • KeyExpirationNotice controls how long before key expiry a notice should be displayed. The default is 24 hours.

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