Install and Deploy - Manual
This article will walk you through the procedure to manually install and deploy Bitwarden to your own server.
Manual installations should be conducted by advanced users only. Only proceed if you are very familiar with Docker technologies and desire more control over your Bitwarden installation.
Manual installations lack the ability to automatically update certain dependencies of the Bitwarden installation. As you upgrade from one version of Bitwarden to the next you will be responsible for changes to required environment variables, changes to nginx
default.conf, changes to
docker-compose.yml, and so on.
Before proceeding with the installation, please ensure that Docker Engine and Docker Compose are installed and ready to use on your server and that your machine meets the following system specifications:
|Processor||x64, 1.4GHz||x64, 2GHz dual core|
|Memory||2GB RAM||4GB RAM|
|Docker Version||Engine 19+ and Compose 1.24+||Engine 19+ and Compose 1.24+|
Create Bitwarden local user & directory
We recommend configuring your server with a dedicated bitwarden service account from which to install and run Bitwarden. Doing so will isolate your Bitwarden instance from other applications running on your server.
These steps are Bitwarden-recommended best practices, but are not required. For more information, see Docker's post-installation steps for Linux documentation.
Create a bitwarden user:
sudo adduser bitwarden
Set a password for the bitwarden user:
sudo passwd bitwarden
Create a docker group (if it doesn't already exist):
sudo groupadd docker
Add the bitwarden user to the docker group:
sudo usermod -aG docker bitwarden
Create a bitwarden directory:
sudo mkdir /opt/bitwarden
Set permissions for the
sudo chmod -R 700 /opt/bitwarden
Set the bitwarden user ownership of the
sudo chown -R bitwarden:bitwarden /opt/bitwarden
Download & configure
To download Bitwarden and configure Bitwarden server assets:
Download a stubbed version of Bitwarden's dependencies (
docker-stub.zip) from the releases pages on GitHub. For example:
curl -L https://github.com/bitwarden/server/releases/download/v<version_number>/docker-stub.zip \ -o docker-stub.zip
Create a new directory named
docker-stub.zipto it, for example:
unzip docker-stub.zip -d bwdata
Once unzipped, the
bwdatadirectory will match what the
docker-compose.ymlfile's volume mapping expects. You may, if you wish, change the location of these mappings on the host machine.
./bwdata/env/global.override.env, edit the following environment variables:
globalSettings__baseServiceUri__vault=: Enter the domain of your Bitwarden instance.
globalSettings__sqlServer__ConnectionString=: Replace the
RANDOM_DATABASE_PASSWORDwith a secure password for use in a later step.
globalSettings__identityServer__certificatePassword: Set a secure certificate password for use in a later step.
RANDOM_IDENTITY_KEYwith a random key string.
RANDOM_IDENTITY_KEYwith a random key string.
RANDOM_DUO_AKEYwith a random key string.
globalSettings__installation__id=: Enter an installation id retrieved from https://bitwarden.com/host.
globalSettings__installation__key=: Enter an installation key retrieved from https://bitwarden.com/host.
At this time, consider also setting values for all
globalSettings__mail__smtp__variables and for
adminSettings__admins. Doing so will configure the SMTP mail server used to send invitations to new organization members and provision access to the System Administrator Portal.
./bwdata, generate a
.pfxcertificate file for the identity container and move it to the mapped volume directory (by default,
./bwdata/identity/). For example, run the following commands:
openssl req -x509 -newkey rsa:4096 -sha256 -nodes -keyout identity.key -out identity.crt -subj "/CN=Bitwarden IdentityServer" -days 10950
openssl pkcs12 -export -out ./identity/identity.pfx -inkey identity.key -in identity.crt -passout pass:IDENTITY_CERT_PASSWORD
In the above command, replace
IDENTITY_CERT_PASSWORDwith the certificate password created and used in Step 3.
Create a subdirectory in
./bwdata/sslnamed for your domain, for example:
Provide a trusted SSL certificate and private key in the newly created
This directory is mapped to the NGINX container at
/etc/ssl. If you can't provide a trusted SSL certificate, front the installation with a proxy that provides an HTTPS endpoint to Bitwarden client applications.
Replace all instances of
bitwarden.example.comwith your domain, including in the
ssl_certificate_keyvariables to the paths of the certificate and private key provided in Step 7.
Take one of the following actions, depending on your certificate setup:
If using a trusted SSL certificate, set the
ssl_trusted_certificatevariable to the path to your certificate.
If using a self-signed certificate, comment out the
RANDOM_DATABASE_PASSWORDwith the password created in Step 3.
bitwarden.example.comwith your domain.
./bwdata/env/uid.env, set the UID and GID of the
bitwardenusers and group you created earlier so the containers run under them, for example:
Start your server
Start your Bitwarden server with the following command:
docker-compose -f ./docker/docker-compose.yml up -d
Verify that all containers are running correctly:
Congratulations! Bitwarden is now up and running at
https://your.domain.com. Visit the web vault in your browser to confirm that it's working.
You may now register a new account and log in. Your will need to have configured SMPT environment variables (see Environment Variables) in order to verify the email for your new account.
Update your server
Updating a self-hosted server that has been installed and deployed manually is different from the standard update procedure. To update your manually-installed server:
Download the latest
docker-stub.ziparchive from the releases pages on GitHub.
Unzip the new
docker-stub.ziparchive and compare its contents with what's currently in your
bwdatadirectory, copying anything new to the pre-existing files in
Do not overwrite your pre-existing
bwdatadirectory with the contents of the newer
docker-stub.ziparchive, as this would overwrite any custom configuration work you've done.
Run the following command to restart your server with your updated configuration and the latest containers:
docker-compose -f ./docker/docker-compose.yml down && docker-compose -f ./docker/docker-compose.yml up -d