How to export your Bitwarden Vault for safekeeping


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At this point in the game, if you don’t use a password manager, you run the risk of your accounts being hacked. Why? Because without a password manager, you’re probably using weak passwords that you can remember, or storing those passwords in an unprotected file on your computer. If so, anyone with access to your machine would have full access to those passwords.

With an in-game password manager, these passwords are encrypted and protected with a vault password. So, in order for anyone to see your passwords, they must first know your vault password.

On top of that, most password managers offer features like random password generators and auditing tools to keep you on top of breaches.

And, for the most part, password managers work just fine.

Also: The 6 Best Password Managers

However, that doesn’t mean you should err on the side of caution. Consider this: you’ve been using a password manager, such as Bitwarden, for years and have accumulated hundreds of entries.

What happens if this safe, containing all these passwords, is corrupted and you lose access? Before you panic, in all these years that I’ve been using Bitwarden, my vault has never had any issues. Even so, I regularly export this vault just to be safe. If anything were to happen to my vault on Friday, all I have to do is restore a copy from Monday, and I’m good to go.

How to export your Bitwarden Vault for safekeeping

But how do you export this vault? I will show you. Once you know how it’s done, you need to remember to do it regularly, so you’re always sure you have a working copy of the vault. That said, let’s go.

Terms

The only thing you will need is a working copy of Bitwarden and a valid vault to export. I will demonstrate this on the desktop version of Bitwarden, but the process can also be done from the web and mobile versions of the service.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that only personal vault items will be exported. If you have entries within an organization, they will not be included.

With both things ready, it’s time to move on to exporting. Let’s do this.

Also: The Best LastPass Alternatives

Open the Bitwarden desktop client and enter your master password. Once you’ve unlocked the Vault, you’ll have access to all of the content inside.

Click File > Export Vault to display the export pop-up window.

The only things you need to do for the export are to select the file format and enter your master password. As we are exporting this to be backed up in the event of a disaster (and which will be used for Bitwarden if needed), we will select the .json format. Once you’ve selected the file format, re-enter your master password, then click the Export button (arrow pointing down).

The Bitwarden Vault export window.

There aren’t many options for the Bitwarden export window.

Image: Jack Wallen

You will then be prompted to confirm the export. Click Export Vault, then select a location to host the export. I would suggest keeping the default name, as it includes the date and timestamp, so you know which vault is newer, if you need to use it. Click Save and you’re done.

A big warning

The only problem with exporting your Bitwarden vault is that it is an unencrypted JSON file. This means that anyone can see this file and access your passwords. For this reason, I strongly recommend that you encrypt this file with a third-party tool, or at least hide it on a flash drive, and even lock it in a safe. You don’t want to leave this file lying around in plain sight.

Also: The best encryption software

And that’s all there is to exporting your Bitwarden vault. If disaster strikes, just go to the web version of Bitwarden, select Tools from the top navigation bar, select Import Data, select the appropriate file format, select Choose File, and then locate the file to import.

Do this regularly, so that you always have a working copy of your Bitwarden vault.

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