Authentication overview

Last Update: 1/23/2017

Team Services | TFS 2015 Update 3 & TFS 2017

Choose a method to securely login and access the code in your Team Services Git repo. Use these credentials with Git on the command line or from any Git client that supports HTTPS or SSH authentication. Limit the scope of access and revoke these credentials from the web when they are no longer needed.

Using Visual Studio? Team Explorer handles authentication with Team Services repos for you.

Authentication comparison

Authentication Type When to use Secure? Ease of setup Additional tooling required
Personal access tokens When you need an easy to configure credential or need configurable access controls Very secure (when using HTTPS) Easy Optional (Git credential managers)
SSH When you already have SSH keys set up Very secure Intermediate Windows users will need the SSH tools included with Git for Windows
Alternate credentials When you can't use personal access tokens or SSH Least secure Easy No

Personal access tokens

Personal access tokens let you create a password for use with the command line or other Git client without using your Team Services username and password directly. An expiration date is set on these tokens when they are created and you can restrict the scope of the data they can access in Team Services. Use personal access tokens to authenticate if you don't already have SSH keys set up on your system or if you need to restrict the permissions granted by the credential.

Animated GIF showing creation of PAT in Team Services

Learn more about personal access tokens

Use credential managers to generate tokens

Git credential managers are an optional tool that makes it easy to create personal access tokens when working with the Git and Team Services. Normally you'd need to log into the Team Services web interface, generate a token, then use the token as your password when connecting to Team Services.

Personal access tokens are generated on demand when you have the credential manager installed. The credential manager creates the token in Team Services and saves it locally for use with the Git command line or other client.

Current versions of Git for Windows include the Git credential manager as an optional feature during installation.

SSH key authentication

Key authentication with SSH works through a public and private key pair that you create on your computer. You associate the public key with your username from the web. Team Services will encrypt the data sent to you with that key when you work with Git. You decrypt the data on your computer with the private key, which is never shared or sent over the network.

Animated GIF showing adding of a SSH public key to Team Services

SSH is a great option if you've already got it set up on your system—just add a public key to Team Services and clone your repos using SSH. If you don't have SSH set up on your computer, you should use personal access tokens and HTTPS instead-it's secure and easier to set up.

Learn more about setting up SSH with Team Services

Alternate credentials

Use of alternate credentials is not recommended.

Create an alternate user name and password to access your Git repository using alternate credentials. Unlike personal access tokens, this login doesn't expire and can't be scoped to limit access to your Team Services data. Use alternate credentials as a last resort when you can't use personal access tokens or SSH keys.