Connect to an External MSSQL Database

By default, self-hosted instances of Bitwarden will use a Microsoft SQL Server (MSSQL) database created as a normal part of installation setup, however you configure Bitwarden to use an external MSSQL database.


At this time, self-hosted Bitwarden instances will support MSSQL 2017, however, the Bitwarden recommended minimum SQL version is Server 2019.

Bitwarden supports and recommends SQL Server 2022 where possible. As mainstream support for Server 2017 ended in October, 2022, depreciation of support for a specific SQL server version will be noted here and in the release notes for a given release if Bitwarden implements features that are not available on a specific version of SQL Server.


To setup your self-hosted instance with an external database:

  1. Create a new MSSQL database.

  2. (Recommended) Create a dedicated DBO for your database.

  3. As an administrator of your Bitwarden server, open the global.override.env file in an editor:

    nano bwdata/env/global.override.env
  4. Edit the globalSettings__sqlServer__connectionString= value for the following information:

    • Replace "Data Source=tcp:mssql,1433"; with your MSSQL server name, for example "Data Source=protocol:server_url,port".

    • Replace the vault in Initial Catalog=vault; with your database name.

    • Replace User ID=sa; with your DBO User ID.

    • Replace Password=<default_pw>; with your DBO password.

  5. Save your changes to global.override.env.

  6. Start Bitwarden (./ start).

Once the above steps are complete, you can test the connection by creating a new user through the web vault and querying the external vault database for creation of the new user.

Validate a server certificate

If you need Bitwarden to validate your MSSQL database server's certificate, mount the certificate into your self-hosted Bitwarden server's containers. To do this:

  1. Copy your root CA certificate into ./bwdata/ca-certificates.

  2. Run the ./ restart command to apply the certificate to your containers and restart your server.

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