Backup your Hosted Data

When self-hosting Bitwarden, you are responsible for implementing your own backup procedures in order to keep data safe.

About hosted data

Bitwarden's Docker containers use volume mapping to persist all important data on the host machine, meaning stopping your containers will not delete any data. Docker containers, on the other hand, are to be considered ephemeral and do not persist data or state.

All Bitwarden data is stored on the host machine in the ./bwdata directory, relative to the location in which you installed Bitwarden.

Backup hosted data

It's recommended that you backup and keep safe the entire ./bwdata directory. In the event of data loss, you will need all or parts of the data contained in this directory to restore your instance.

Particularly important pieces of ./bwdata to backup regularly include:

  • ./bwdata/env - Instance's environment variables, including database and certificate passwords.

  • ./bwdata/core/attachments - Instance's vault item attachments.

  • ./bwdata/mssql/data - Instance's database data.

    Bitwarden will automatically take nightly backups of the mssql database container, when running.

Nightly database backups

Bitwarden will automatically take nightly backups of the mssql container database. These backups are kept in the ./bwdata/mssql/backups directory for 30 days.

In the event of data loss, you can use ./bwdata/mssql/backups to restore a nightly backup.

Restore a nightly Backup

In the event of data loss, complete the following steps to restore a nightly backup.

  1. Retrieve your database password from the globalSettings__sqlServer__connectionString=...Password= value found in global.override.env.

  2. Identify the Container ID of the mssql container using the docker ps command.

  3. Run the following command to open a bash session for your mssql docker container:

    docker exec -it bitwarden-mssql /bin/bash

    Your command prompt should now match the identified Container ID of the bitwarden-mssql container.

  4. In the container, locate the backup file you wish to restore.


    The backup directory in the container is volume-mapped from the host directory. ./bwdata/mssql/backups on the host machine maps to etc/bitwarden/mssql/backups in the container.

    For example, a file /etc/bitwarden/mssql/backups/vault_FULL_20201208_003243.BAK is a backup taken on December 08, 2020 at 12:32am.

  5. Start the sqlcmd utility with the following command:

    /opt/mssql-tools/bin/sqlcmd -S localhost -U <sa> -P <sa-password>

    where <sa> and <sa-password> match the User= and Password= values found in global.override.env.

  6. Once in the sqlcmd utility, you have two options for backup:

    1. Offline restore (Preferred)

      Run the following SQL commands:

      1> use master 2> GO 1> alter database vault set offline with rollback immediate 2> GO 1> restore database vault from disk='/etc/bitwarden/mssql/backups/vault_FULL_{Backup File Name}.BAK' with replace 2> GO ​1> alter database vault set online 2> GO 1> exit

      Restart your Bitwarden instance to finish restoring.

    2. Online restore

      Execute the following SQL commands:

      1> RESTORE DATABASE vault FROM DISK = '/etc/bitwarden/mssql/backups/vault_FULL_20200302_235901.BAK' WITH REPLACE 2> GO

      Restart your Bitwarden instance to finish restoring.

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