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I just updated my live Drupal install and now I receive the following notice in the admin:

Found one invalid variable

When I go to /admin/reports/variablecheck it shows that the variable drupal_private_key is invalid.

Is it safe to delete this key? Will it autogenerate? What does this key affect? Will I have to edit my cron to use a new key?

I tried using Google and this site but nothing seems to say what this key is or if it's okay to delete it. I have experienced this issue before a year ago but cannot remember the solution. I'm sure I am not the first person to experience this but intrigued I couldn't find a solution online.

Thanks for any insight on this issue.

EDIT

It appears the last time I had this issue I added the key to the settings file, including a drupal hash salt variable (see this post). Everything was working fine until the update. This issue does not exist on DEV or STAGE, only on PROD

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