I would like a means to save the encrypted file just as Bitwarden saves it and decrypt it on my computer. LastPass used to offer this and discontinued it without explanation. A small EXE would allow me to get to passwords in the event something prevents me from getting to my vault otherwise. If, as the logic goes, the file maintained by Bitwarden is truly has unbreakable encryption, it is far safer for me to save it than to save an exported CSV. Any of the means I know to encrypt that CSV are far inferior to BitWarden’s technology and not as well tested.
Means to download my encrypted vault and standalone program to decrypt
I would suggest using the Portable Desktop App, which you can keep on a USB stick. Keep it logged in all the time, but locked when not in use. If you unlock it and force a sync, it will save the current version of the encrypted vault on the USB drive. If you ever have trouble getting to your vault using regular methods, turn off your internet connection and then open the Portable Desktop App from the USB drive.
If you open the Portable Desktop App while connected to the internet, you may get automatically logged out if it has been more than 30 days since you last used the app, and by design, logging out would erase the encrypted vault data that are stored on your USB. If you think you may forget to disconnect from the internet, it is best to make a copy of the
data.json file that is stored in the
bitwarden-appdata folder on your USB, immediately after you sync your vault — store this copy in a different folder. The
data.json file contains your encrypted vault, so if logging in with the internet connected ever erases your vault, you can copy the backup copy of the
data.json back into the
bitwarden-appdata folder and then re-launch the Portable Desktop App (after disconnecting from the internet, this time).
I appreciate your suggestion, but I’m confused how you did what you describe and where the Portable Desktop App saves the .json file you mention. I’ve downloaded the app but can’t see where there is a selection for saving the file.
Let’s say that your USB drive is
D:, and perhaps you create a folder
D:\bw\ to hold your portable installation. Download
Bitwarden-Portable-2023.1.1.exe and save it in the
D:\bw\ folder. The first time that you log in using this portable app (e.g., by double-clicking the
D:\bw\Bitwarden-Portable-2023.1.1.exe executable in Windows File Explorer), it will automatically create the folder
D:\bw\bitwarden-appdata\ and automatically download the
data.json file from the cloud into that folder. Everytime that your portable app syncs to the cloud, the
data.json file will be automatically updated.
My other suggestion was to back up the
data.json file. For example, create a compressed (zipped) folder
D:\bw\backup.zip, and copy the file
D:\bw\bitwarden-appdata\data.json into the
D:\bw\backup.zip folder. Alternatively, you could store a backup copy of the
data.json file at any convenient (but reasonably secure) location of your choosing.