Introduction to Ansible Vault

Ansible Vault is a feature of Ansible that allows you to encrypt and decrypt sensitive data files. This is particularly useful when you need to store and manage sensitive information such as passwords, API keys, and other confidential data in your Ansible projects.

Getting Started with Ansible Vault

To start using Ansible Vault, you can create a new encrypted file using the command:

ansible-vault create filename.yml

This will prompt you to enter and confirm a password for the new encrypted file. Once the password is set, you can add your sensitive data to the file, and it will be automatically encrypted.

Editing Encrypted Files

To edit an existing encrypted file, you can use the command:

ansible-vault edit filename.yml

This will prompt you to enter the password for the file, and once verified, it will open the file for editing. After you save and close the file, it will remain encrypted.

Running Playbooks with Encrypted Data

When running an Ansible playbook that contains encrypted data, you can use the --ask-vault-pass option to prompt for the vault password:

ansible-playbook --ask-vault-pass playbook.yml

Alternatively, you can specify the vault password file using the --vault-password-file option:

ansible-playbook --vault-password-file=password.txt playbook.yml

Encrypting an Existing File

If you have an existing file that you want to encrypt using Ansible Vault, you can use the command:

ansible-vault encrypt filename.yml

This will prompt you to enter and confirm a password for encrypting the file.

Decrypting an Encrypted File

To decrypt an encrypted file and view its contents, you can use the command:

ansible-vault view filename.yml

You will need to enter the password for the file, and once verified, the file will be displayed in its decrypted form.

Best Practices for Using Ansible Vault

When working with Ansible Vault, consider the following best practices:

  • Create a dedicated vault password file and ensure it is securely stored.
  • Avoid storing the vault password in plain text within your playbooks or roles.
  • Regularly rotate the vault password to enhance security.
  • Limit access to the vault password and encrypted files to authorized personnel only.

Frequently Asked Questions about Ansible Vault

Here are some common questions and answers about using Ansible Vault:

  • Q: Can I use Ansible Vault with existing files?
    A: Yes, you can encrypt existing files using the ansible-vault encrypt command.
  • Q: How can I share encrypted files with other team members?
    A: You can share the encrypted files and provide the vault password to authorized team members. It’s important to securely communicate the password to maintain data security.
  • Q: Is it possible to automate the vault password entry?
    A: Yes, you can use the --vault-password-file option to specify a file containing the vault password, allowing for automation in scripts and workflows.

Using Ansible Vault in Roles and Playbooks

In Ansible, you can integrate Ansible Vault directly into your roles and playbooks to manage sensitive data. This allows you to maintain security while leveraging the power of Ansible for automation.

Within your playbooks, you can reference encrypted variables and files using the include_vars directive, providing the vault password as needed. Similarly, in roles, you can utilize encrypted variables and files to securely handle sensitive information.

Managing Multiple Vault Passwords

In some scenarios, you may need to manage multiple vault passwords for different environments or projects. Ansible provides the flexibility to specify different vault password files using the --vault-password-file option, allowing you to work with distinct sets of encrypted data securely.

Integrating Ansible Vault with Source Control

When using Ansible Vault with source control systems such as Git, it’s important to handle encrypted files and passwords with care. Ensure that the vault password file is not committed to the repository, and consider using Git hooks or other mechanisms to prevent accidental exposure of sensitive data.


In conclusion, Ansible Vault is a powerful tool for managing sensitive data within your Ansible projects. By following best practices and leveraging the encryption capabilities of Ansible Vault, you can enhance the security of your infrastructure automation workflows.