Self-hostingInstall & Deploy Guides

Install and Deploy - Offline (Windows)

This article will walk you through the procedure to install and deploy Bitwarden to your own Windows server in an offline or air-gapped environment.


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.

We will try to highlight these in the release notes on GitHub. You can also monitor changes to the dependency templates used by the Bitwarden installation script on GitHub.


Before proceeding with the installation, please ensure the following requirements are met:

  • Docker Engine and Docker Compose are installed and ready to use on your server. During this setup, you must uncheck the Use WSL2 instead of Hyper-V (recommended) option.

  • Using a machine with internet access, you have downloaded the latest file from the Bitwarden Server repository's releases page and transferred this file to your server.

  • An offline SMTP server is setup and active in your environment.

  • (Optional) OpenSSL Windows binaries are installed and ready to use on your server. You may use a self-signed certificate instead of OpenSSL if you wish.

System specifications




x64, 1.4GHz

x64, 2GHz Dual Core







Docker Version

Engine 19+ and Compose 1.24+

Engine 19+ and Compose 1.24+

Nested virtualization

Running Bitwarden on a Windows Server requires use of nested virtualization. Please check your Hypervisor's documentation to find out if nested virtualization is supported and how to enable it.


If you are running Windows Server as an Azure VM, we recommend a Standard D2s v3 Virtual Machine running Windows Server 2019 Gen2, which meets all system requirements including support for nested virtualization.

Installation procedure

Configure your domain

By default, Bitwarden will be served through ports 80 (http) and 443 (https) on the host machine. Open these ports so that Bitwarden can be accessed from within and/or outside the network. You may opt to choose different ports during installation.


If you are using Windows Firewall, Docker Desktop for Windows will not automatically add an exception for itself in Windows Firewall. Add exceptions for TCP ports 80 and 443 (or chosen alternative ports) to prevent related errors.

We recommend configuring a domain name with DNS records that point to your host machine (for example,, especially if you are serving Bitwarden over the internet.

Create Bitwarden local user & directory

Open PowerShell and create a Bitwarden local user by running the following command:

PS C:\> $Password = Read-Host -AsSecureString
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After running the above command, enter the desired password in the text input dialog. After specifying a password, run the following command:

New-LocalUser "Bitwarden" -Password $Password -Description "Bitwarden Local Admin"
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As the newly created user, create a Bitwarden folder under C:\:

PS C:\> mkdir Bitwarden
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Once you install Docker Desktop, navigate to SettingsResourcesFile Sharing and add the created directory (C:\Bitwarden) to the Resources list. Select Apply & Restart to apply your changes.

Configure your machine

To configure your machine with the assets required for your Bitwarden server:


If you have created a Bitwarden user & directory, complete the following as the Bitwarden user.

  1. Create a new directory in C:\Bitwarden named bwdata and extract to it.

    Once unzipped, the bwdata directory will match what the docker-compose.yml file's volume mapping expects. You may, if you wish, change the location of these mappings on the host machine.

  2. In 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_PASSWORD with a secure password for use in a later step.

    • globalSettings__identityServer__certificatePassword=: Set a secure certificate password for use in a later step.

    • globalSettings__internalIdentityKey=: Replace RANDOM_IDENTITY_KEY with a random key string.

    • globalSettings__oidcIdentityClientKey=: Replace RANDOM_IDENTITY_KEY with a random key string.

    • globalSettings__duo__aKey=: Replace RANDOM_DUO_AKEY with a random key string.

    • globalSettings__installation__id=: Enter an installation id retrieved from

    • globalSettings__installation__key=: Enter an installation key retrieved from

    • globalSettings__pushRelayBaseUri=: This variable should be blank. See Configure Push Relay for more information.


      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.

      Learn more about environment variables.

  3. Generate a identity.pfx certificate for the identity container. You can do using OpenSSL or using any tool to generate a self-signed certificate. If you're using OpenSSL, run the following commands:

    openssl req -x509 -newkey rsa:4096 -sha256 -nodes -keyout identity.key -out identity.crt -subj "/CN=Bitwarden IdentityServer" -days 10950
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    openssl pkcs12 -export -out ./identity/identity.pfx -inkey identity.key -in identity.crt -passout pass:IDENTITY_CERT_PASSWORD
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    In the above command, replace IDENTITY_CERT_PASSWORD with the certificate password created and used in Step 2.

  4. Move identity.pfx to the mapped volume directory (by default, .\bwdata\identity).

  5. Copy identity.pfx to the .\bwdata\ssl directory.

  6. Create a subdirectory in .\bwdata\ssl named for your domain.

  7. Provider a trusted SSL certificate and private key in the newly created .\bwdata\ssl\ subdirectory.


    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.

  8. In .\bwdata\nginx\default.conf:

    1. Replace all instances of with your domain, including in the Content-Security-Policy header.

    2. Set the ssl_certificate and ssl_certificate_key variables to the paths of the certificate and private key provided in Step 6.

    3. Take one of the following actions, depending on your certificate setup:

      • If using a trusted SSL certificate, set the ssl_trusted_certificate variable to the path to your certificate.

      • If using a self-signed certificate, comment out the ssl_trusted_certificate variables.

  9. In .\bwdata\env\mssql.override.env, replace RANDOM_DATABASE_PASSWORD with the password created in Step 2.

  10. In .\bwdata\web\app-id.json, replace with your domain.

Download & transfer images

To get docker images for use on your offline machine:

  1. From an internet-connected machine, download all bitwarden/xxx:latest docker images, as listed in the docker-compose.yml file in

  2. Save each image to a .img file, for example:

    docker image save -o mssql.img bitwarden/mssql:version
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  3. Transfer all .img files to your offline machine.

  4. On your offline machine, load each .img file to create your local docker images, for example:

    docker image load -i mssql.img
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Start your server

Start your Bitwarden server with the following command:

docker-compose -f ./docker/docker-compose.yml up -d
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Verify that all containers are running correctly:

docker ps
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List showing Healthy Containers  |
List showing Healthy Containers

Congratulations! Bitwarden is now up and running at Visit the web vault in your browser to confirm that it's working.

You may now register a new account and log in. You will need to have configured SMTP environment variables (see Environment Variables) in order to verify the email for your new account.

Next Steps:

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:

  1. Download the latest archive from the releases pages on GitHub.

  2. Unzip the new archive and compare its contents with what's currently in your bwdata directory, copying anything new to the pre-existing files in bwdata.
    Do not overwrite your pre-existing bwdata directory with the contents of the newer archive, as this would overwrite any custom configuration work you've done.

  3. Download the latest container images and transfer them to your offline machine as documented above.

  4. 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
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© 2023 Bitwarden, Inc.