Backing up your on-premises hosted data

With the public cloud version of Bitwarden, we automatically handle backing up your data for you. However, when self-hosting Bitwarden you must implement your own backup procedures in order to keep your data safe.

Bitwarden’s Docker containers use volume mapping to keep all important data persisted on the host machine. You can find this data in the ./bwdata directory relative to your Bitwarden installation. The Docker containers themselves are to be considered ephemeral and do not persist data or state.

You should back up and keep the entire ./bwdata directory safe. In the event of data loss you will need all or parts of data contained in this directory to restore your installation.

Some particularly important parts of the ./bwdata directory are:

  • ./bwdata/mssql/data - database data
  • ./bwdata/core/attachments - vault item attachments
  • ./bwdata/env - environment variables, including database and certificate passwords

Nightly database backups

Bitwarden will automatically take nightly backups of the mssql container database. These database backups are kept in the ./bwdata/mssql/backups directory. Nightly database backups are kept in this directory for 30 days. In the event of data loss, you can restore one of these daily backups.

Restoring a nightly backup

  1. Execute an interactive bash shell on the bitwarden-mssql container.

    docker exec -it bitwarden-mssql /bin/bash
  2. Take note of the backup file you wish to restore in the nightly backups directory. The backups directory is mapped from a host volume at ./bwdata/mssql/backups to /etc/bitwarden/mssql/backups within the bitwarden-mssql container.

    ls /etc/bitwarden/mssql/backups

    For this example, the backup we will be using is named vault_FULL_20200302_235901.BAK, which is a backup of the vault database on March 2, 2020 at 11:53pm. The full path of the backup in the container would be /etc/bitwarden/mssql/backups/vault_FULL_20200302_235901.BAK

  3. Execute sqlcmd with the required authentication.

    /opt/mssql-tools/bin/sqlcmd -S localhost -U sa -P ${SA_PASSWORD}
  4. Execute the SQL command RESTORE DATABASE with your backup to restore the nightly backup, followed by a GO command.

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

Your Bitwarden database should now be restored.

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