Azure DevOps Personal Access Token – Overview

Azure DevOps uses various security measures to regulate user access to data, functions and features. User accounts are allowed to access the Azure DevOps platform after thorough verification of their security clearance and are cleared to access features and functions accordingly. As an administrator, you should be aware of the types of accounts, methods of authentication and authorization and the numerous policies that Azure uses to secure DevOps.

Azure is one of the most incredibly popular IaaS providers in the world, with vast Azure DevOps Cloud Services and efficient on-premise Azure DevOps Server.

Azure DevOps is designed to help entrepreneurs and small business owners to get the power of the cloud and advanced server computing and storage in the most efficient and secure manner. The platform is the prime choice for administrators to make the software development project smoother, from development to deployment.

Advantages of Azure DevOps Personal Access Token (PAT)

Azure DevOps allows admins to add multiple user accounts to their project or organization, including service accounts, service principals, job agents and third party accounts. To manage these different types of user accounts, it is recommended to add them to ‘security groups’. Once you assign a user account to a particular security group, then the user needs to go through an authentication process before accessing features or functions on Azure DevOps.

In order to maintain top-notch security, Azure uses advanced authentication methods to verify the credentials and account identity whenever a user logs in to Azure DevOps. The Authentication process is handled by a combination of authentication security protocols, including:

  • Azure AD (Active Directory)
  • MSA (Microsoft Account)
  • AD (Active Directory)

MSA and Azure AD are compatible with cloud authentication. Software development experts recommend using Azure AD for administrators to manage large user groups with increasing efficiency. On the other hand, for admins of smaller groups of users, then it is recommended to use Microsoft Accounts (MA). In addition, Azure AD is highly recommended when managing a bigger user group on on-premise services.

Azure allows admins to integrate other services and applications with DevOps. To avoid having to go through a long credential verification process every time a user tries to log in to their accounts, Azure DevOps admins can employ other faster authentication methods, such as:

SSH Authentication

This is useful for generating encryption keys when on Windows, Linux or Mac OS, running Git for Windows. This is advisable when you are unable to use Git credential managers for HTTPS authentication.


This is useful for generating tokens that allow access to REST APIs. In this, the Profiles and Account APIs are compatible only with OAuth.

Personal Access Token (PAT)

A personal access token allows access to specific activities, or resources, such as work items and builds. Additionally, PATs are an excellent alternative to using Xcode or NuGet clients which normally need usernames and passwords at least as credentials but are not compatible with Microsoft Account and Azure AD features such as multi-factor authentication. Also, PATs are extremely useful to access REST APIs in Azure DevOps.

How to Generate and Use Personal Access Token (PAT)?

A PAT, short for a personal access token, is an alternate log-in credential that authenticates users into Azure DevOps. Although Azure AD and Microsoft Account work well as authentication steps when working with the Microsoft tool, these are often not compatible with many third-party tools.

With personal access tokens, you can reduce the risk to your data and features when using third-party software on Azure DevOps.

Steps to Generate Personal Access Tokens (PATs)

Here’s a step-wise guide on how to generate personal access token (PAT):

  1. Log in to your organization in Azure DevOps
  2. On your home page, click on the User Settings icon on the toolbar on top and select the “Personal access tokens” option from the drop-down menu.
  3. Select “+New Token”
  4. On the pop-up form, fill in the relevant details, including the name of the token, and the organization to which the token will be assigned and then choose the duration of the token.
  5. Select the options under “Scopes” according to the specific task it is being generated for.
  6. Once the token is generated, make sure to copy the token because it will not be displayed again.

The token which is generated through the above-given process is yet another increasingly secure way to regulate user access for Azure DevOps functions, features and data. Users can use this token as authentication to access Azure DevOps from anywhere until the expiration limit is reached.

See Also

DevOps Toolchain

Azure DevOps Pricing Calculator

Azure Cost Calculator


Steve is a product-marketer and Engineer at Cloudysave who works with Cloud Management and Adoption team. Over the past years, he has collaborated with multiple teams to provide a robust and cost-effective architecture patterns to influence business and engineering decisions. His key areas of interests include Cloud Costs Management, Security and DevOps Best-Practices.