VisualSVN Server allows you to easily install and manage a fully-functional Subversion server on the Windows platform. The process of getting started with VisualSVN Server includes the following main steps:

  • Installing VisualSVN Server
    Download and launch the VisualSVN Server installer package to start the server deployment.
  • Performing Initial Configuration
    Perform the essential tasks using VisualSVN Server Manager MMC console to make the server ready for production use.
  • Performing Advanced Configuration
    Enable additional important features such as scheduled backup and verification, advanced logging, remote administration and multisite repository replication.

Installing VisualSVN Server

VisualSVN Server is distributed as a Windows Installer package (*.msi) file and comes with a setup wizard which will guide you through the basic steps to install the server. To begin the installation, you should download the VisualSVN Server installer package and launch it on the server computer.

Download the VisualSVN Server installer package from the main download page.

Tip VisualSVN Server comes in 64-bit and 32-bit versions. If you plan to install VisualSVN Server on Windows 64-bit, you should download and install a 64-bit version of VisualSVN Server.

You will be presented with a setup wizard after launching the installer. The setup wizard will guide you through the following steps that are required to finish the installation.

Accept the License Agreement

Review and accept the End User License Agreement (EULA).

Select Components

Select to install VisualSVN Server and Administration Tools components when deploying VisualSVN Server.

Select the Edition

Select the Edition of VisualSVN Server to enable during installation.

VisualSVN Server comes in two editions: a free Standard Edition and a paid Enterprise Edition. The Enterprise Edition enables additional unique features such as the Active Directory Single Sign-On, Multisite Repository Replication, and Scheduled Repository Backup. For the complete list of features and an overview of the editions, please check the VisualSVN Server Features and Licensing pages.

You can instantly receive a free 45-day evaluation license key to evaluate the features provided by the Enterprise Edition. Submit the VisualSVN Server Enterprise Edition evaluation form to receive the license key.

Enter license key (Enterprise Edition only)

You should enter the license key to activate the Enterprise Edition. You can use Ctrl-V keyboard shortcut to paste the license key into the form.

Adjust initial server configuration

Optionally, adjust the default configuration settings before starting the installation.

  • Location. Specifies the VisualSVN Server installation directory. The option can only be configured on the first install.
  • Repositories. Specifies the root directory where Subversion repositories will be stored. It is recommended to keep the default repositories location on the first install. You can change the repositories root directory after installing the server. Read the article KB22 if you plan to store your repositories on a network share.
  • Server Port. Specifies the TCP port that will be used by VisualSVN Server for client access to the repositories over HTTP(S). You can change the server port after installing the server.
  • Use secure connection. Specifies whether to use secure HTTPS protocol for client access to the repositories. It is recommended to keep HTTPS protocol enabled. You can adjust this option after installing the server.
  • Backups. Specifies the default destination location to be used for Subversion repository backups.

Finish the installation

On the last screen of the setup wizard, make sure that the Start VisualSVN Server Manager option is selected. Click Finish to close the installer and proceed to the server configuration steps with VisualSVN Server Manager console.

Tip As a part of the installation process, VisualSVN Server configures and starts VisualSVN Server service that makes Subversion repositories available via the HTTP(S) protocol. If the service does not start during the installation, read the article KB29 for troubleshooting advice and suggestions.

VisualSVN Server Manager will launch as soon as the installation is complete. VisualSVN Server Manager is the main tool to control the server. The console provides an intuitive graphical interface for server and repository administration.

VisualSVN Server Manager

Performing Initial Configuration

After finishing the VisualSVN Server installation, you need to perform initial server configuration and tailor the new server deployment to your environment before the server goes live. The initial configuration process consists of the following steps:

Configuring Network Settings

VisualSVN Server provides several configurable network settings that you should review after the installation and adjust if required.

Follow these steps to open up the network settings:

  1. Start VisualSVN Server Manager console.
  2. Click Action | Properties.
  3. Click Network tab.
  • Server name. By default, VisualSVN Server takes the local server hostname as the server name. If you plan to access VisualSVN Server and the repositories using another DNS name, you should manually adjust the setting to include this DNS name.
  • Automatically redirect HTTP to HTTPS (listen on port 80). VisualSVN Server can help you transparently switch from plain HTTP to secure HTTPS protocol without any disruption for users. Consider enabling this setting if you plan to switch access to the repositories from HTTP to HTTPS.
  • Repositories URL. All the repositories hosted on VisualSVN Server are nested under single repository root in the URL. By default, the root URL prefix is svn/. You can adjust the root URL prefix if required.
  • Server Binding. VisualSVN Server binds to all available IP interfaces, by default. You can bind VisualSVN Server to specific network interface if required.

Configuring User Authentication Settings

It is recommended to review user authentication settings before starting to add the Subversion repositories to a newly installed VisualSVN Server instance.

Follow these steps to open up the authentication settings:

  1. Start VisualSVN Server Manager console.
  2. Click Action | Properties.
  3. Click Authentication tab.

VisualSVN Server supports two distinct authentication schemas:

  • Subversion authentication is suitable for non-domain VisualSVN Server installations with a few number of users. It relies on the internal user list maintained by VisualSVN Server and supports Basic Authentication only.
  • Windows authentication is suitable for VisualSVN Server installations in Active Directory. It relies on Active Directory user credentials and supports Basic Authentication and Integrated Windows Authentication (Active Directory Single Sign-On).

Read the article KB39: Understanding VisualSVN Server Authentication options for more information.

Configuring SSL Certificate

VisualSVN Server supports secure connection to repositories over the HTTP(S) protocol. When installed for the first time, VisualSVN Server generates a self-signed SSL certificate for the hostname of the server computer where VisualSVN Server is installed. A self-signed certificate is suitable for testing purposes, but it is not signed by a trusted authority and therefore not trusted by Subversion clients or web browsers.

  • To use HTTPS in production, you should consider equipping VisualSVN Server with an SSL certificate signed by a trusted certificate authority.
  • If you plan to keep using the self-signed certificate, make sure that common name in the certificate matches the DNS name you use to access the server and repositories. This step is important if you changed the Server Name after installing VisualSVN Server.

Read the article KB134: Configuring SSL Certificates for VisualSVN Server for further information.

Adding Repositories

Freshly installed VisualSVN Server instance does not include any default repositories. You must create new or import existing Subversion repositories into VisualSVN Server. VisualSVN Server Manager console helps you add the repositories in a straightforward wizard-driven mode.

Importing Existing Repositories

To import an existing repository, run Import Existing Repository wizard in VisualSVN Server Manager:

  1. Start VisualSVN Server Manager console.
  2. Right-click Repositories node.
  3. Click Import Existing Repository.
  4. Follow the steps of the wizard to complete the task.

For more information, read the article KB10: Importing Repositories into VisualSVN Server.

When importing a repository with Subversion hook scripts, you should carefully test and review the hooks to ensure that they work on the new computer as expected.

Creating New Repositories

To create a new repository, run Create New Repository wizard in VisualSVN Server Manager:

  1. Start VisualSVN Server Manager console.
  2. Right-click Repositories node.
  3. Click Create New Repository.
  4. Follow the steps of the wizard to complete the task.

Configuring User Permissions

VisualSVN Server lets you specify the initial user access permissions when you create new or import existing Subversion repositories. Before the server goes live, it is recommended to review the user permissions and adjust them if needed.

Tip You can let non-admin users manage the user access permissions securely and remotely. See the Enable Repository Management Delegation section of this Getting Started guide for further details.

The server administrators and repository supervisors must understand the access control principles in Subversion. Read the article KB33: Understanding VisualSVN Server authorization for more information.

VisualSVN Server fully supports path-based authorization with Read / Write, Read Only and No Access access levels. You can manage user permissions on any level including per-folder and per-file levels.

VisualSVN Server Manager console provides an intuitive graphical interface for access control. You can define and manage user access permissions without having to deal with command line tools and text-based configuration files. What is more, VisualSVN Server allows you to automate access permission management and perform it in bulk with the help of VisualSVN Server PowerShell.

Final Check-Up

At this point, the initial VisualSVN Server configuration should be complete. It is time to perform a quick test drive to ensure that the repositories are online.

VisualSVN Server makes Subversion repositories available to users through the HTTP(S) protocol. To access the data in your repositories, you can use a web browser or Subversion client including command-line svn.exe and GUI clients.

When on the quick test drive, you should be logged to Windows under the account that has appropriate access permissions to VisualSVN Server. If you have configured VisualSVN Server to use Integrated Windows Authentication, you should be not prompted for your username and passwords. You should not be warned about non-trusted SSL certificate, too.

Subversion Client Test Drive

Subversion client is the main tool to access and operate with the versioned data in your Subversion repositories. As part of the final check-up, you should checkout a working copy using Subversion client.

Tip We recommend to use modern and up to date Subversion clients. If you prefer to use a graphical client, you can download and install TortoiseSVN onto your workstation. TortoiseSVN is implemented as a Windows shell extension and provides a nice user interface for Subversion. You can always grab the latest TortoiseSVN version at the dedicated download page.

To access the repository, you should first obtain its URL. You can always find the correct repository URL using VisualSVN Server Manager console:

  1. Start VisualSVN Server Manager console.
  2. Expand Repositories node.
  3. Right-click a repository or repository path and click Copy URL to Clipboard.

You can paste the URL using the Ctrl-V keyboard shortcut into the URL field of your Subversion client. If you use the command line svn.exe client, you should run svn checkout command to create the working copy of your versioned project. Here is an example:

svn checkout MyWorkingCopy

Repository Web Interface Test Drive

VisualSVN Server comes with a rich web interface for Subversion repositories. The web interface is automatically enabled for each repository hosted on VisualSVN Server.

As part of the final check-up, start your web browser and open the Repository Web Interface. To access the repository, you should first obtain its URL. You can always find the correct repository URL using VisualSVN Server Manager console:

  1. Start VisualSVN Server Manager console.
  2. Expand Repositories node.
  3. Right-click a repository or repository path and click Copy URL to Clipboard.

As soon as you copy the URL, you can paste it using the Ctrl-V keyboard shortcut into the address bar of the web browser and navigate to the repository.

Performing Advanced Configuration

VisualSVN Server offers additional unique features that are suitable for server installations of any size. These features are must-have for VisualSVN Server installations in corporate environments.

Schedule Repository Verification

VisualSVN Server comes with built-in scheduled verification of the Subversion repositories. The verification jobs check the integrity of your repositories. Verifying your repositories on a regular basis is important for early detection of repository corruptions caused by disk failures. Read the article KB115: Getting started with repository verification jobs for setup instructions.

Schedule Repository Backup

VisualSVN Server comes with the built-in Backup and Restore solution for the Subversion repositories. The feature helps you make daily backups of the repositories of any size and does not have any impact on performance and user operations. What is more, the Backup and Restore feature in VisualSVN Server is very easy to setup and maintain.

When deploying VisualSVN Server, we suggest that you add a scheduled backup job to ensure that your repositories are properly backed up. Read the article KB106: Getting Started with Backup and Restore for setup instructions.

Enable commit email notifications

A commit email notification is an email that is sent in response to a new commit in the repository. VisualSVN Server can be configured to automatically send such email notifications for new commits in all or selected repositories. This can be achieved by using the Subversion hook handler included in the server's installation package. Read the article KB18: Configuring Email Notifications in VisualSVN Server for setup instructions.

Enable Access and Operational Logging

VisualSVN Server Enterprise Edition comes with the Access and Operational Logging feature. Access and Operational Logging allows you to monitor all HTTP requests and all logical Subversion operations processed by VisualSVN Server, including read-only operations such as Checkout and Update. You can use Windows Event Viewer to view the logs because the log entries are recorded to the standard Windows Event Log.

Follow these steps to enable Access and Operational Logging:

  1. Start VisualSVN Server Manager console.
  2. Click Action | Properties.
  3. Click Logging tab.
  4. Select Access logging and Operational logging.
  5. Click Apply.

By default, the maximum size of the Windows Event Logs is 20480 KB which may be less than optimal for larger VisualSVN Server installations. It is recommended to review and increase the maximum log size depending on your VisualSVN Server's load. You can also adjust the retention policy for the event logs. Follow the instructions from Microsoft TechNet:

Enable Repository Management Delegation

VisualSVN Server Enterprise Edition comes with the Repository Management Delegation feature. The feature helps you delegate user permission management duties by assigning repository supervisors - non-administrative users who can manage user permissions with VisualSVN Repository Configurator tool. Read the article KB62: Getting Started with Repository Management Delegation for setup instructions.

Enable Multisite Repository Replication

VisualSVN Server Enterprise Edition comes with the Multisite Repository Replication feature. The feature allows you to deploy replicated repositories at remote locations to enable geographically distributed teams to work with Subversion repositories at LAN speeds. Read the article KB136: Getting Started with Multisite Repository Replication for setup instructions.

Enable Remote Server Administration

VisualSVN Server Enterprise Edition comes with the Remote Server Administration feature. VisualSVN Server Manager console is implemented as a standard Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in and allows you to manage multiple Subversion servers remotely from a single console. Read the article KB25: Configuring Remote Administration for setup instructions.