Working with artifacts

Update 2021/2/10: BcContainerHelper has replaced NavContainerHelper. This blog post still reference NavContainerHelper, which is outdated.

As a follow up to this blog post (make sure you have read this first), this blog post will share some details about working with artifacts. How do you find them, what do they contain and what happens when you try to use them. It is primarily a list of the new functionality in NavContainerHelper for working with artifacts.

I will also provide a blog post later, which describes how to work with artifacts when using docker run (raw docker commands)


Originally submitted by Waldo and slightly modified to fit the needs of everybody (hopefully). The parameters are:

  • storageAccount (bcinsider or bcartifacts). The storage account determines where to get the artifacts. bcartifacts is the storage account, which contains all public artifacts with Business Central and NAV.
  • type (onprem or sandbox) determines whether to get onprem artifacts (shipped builds) or sandbox artifacts (Saas builds). If you are looking for a build, which matches your saas version, you need to use sandbox.
  • version (default is blank = all versions) is the version you are filtering for. You can specify a full version number or a partial version number. The function will try to match your request.
  • country (default is blank = all countries) is the localization you are filtering for. Onprem countries follows onprem releases (na for north america), sandbox countries follows saas countries (us, ca and mx).Note that in there is a bug, which returns the platform as a country. The platform cannot be used as a country:-(
  • select (all, closest, secondToLastMajor or latest) determines which artifact urls you get.
    • latest (which is the default) will return the latest image in the list
    • all will return an array of all artifact urls matching the filter
    • closest requires you to supply a full version number and the function will return the closest version (where Major and Minor version MUST match).
    • secondToLastMajor is used in CI/CD scenarios to identify next minor release.
  • sasToken is the shared access signature token to use when requesting artifacts from a secured storage account (like bcinsider).

try to run this PowerShell snippet and investigate the return values.

Write-Host -ForegroundColor Yellow "Get US sandbox artifact url for current version (Latest)"
Get-BCArtifactUrl -country "us"

Write-Host -ForegroundColor Yellow "Get all US sandbox artifact urls"
Get-BCArtifactUrl -country "us" -select All

Write-Host -ForegroundColor Yellow "Get US sandbox artifact url for a version closest to 16.2.13509.13700"
Get-BCArtifactUrl -country "us" -version "16.2.13509.13700" -select Closest

Write-Host -ForegroundColor Yellow "Get latest 16.1 US sandbox artifact url"
Get-BCArtifactUrl -country "us" -version "16.1"

Write-Host -ForegroundColor Yellow "Get latest 15.x US sandbox artifact url"
Get-BCArtifactUrl -country "us" -version "15"

Write-Host -ForegroundColor Yellow "Get all Danish NAV and Business Central artifact urls"
Get-BCArtifactUrl -type OnPrem -country "dk" -select All

With Business Central, we do not use CU numbers, we use version numbers like 14.7, 15.4 and 16.2 and with this function you can easily find the versions available with a major, minor version.


For people in need of a NAV 2016 – NAV 2018 artifact, these are also available. You can get NAV 2018 artifacts using Get-BcArtifactUrl with version 11.0 and type onprem – but all NAV 2018 artifacts with be versioned 11.0.<build>.0 and if you can remember the build number you will probably just use Get-BcArtifactUrl.

If you however need an artifact url for a specify CU, you can use Get-NavArtifactUrl, which has 4 parameters:

  • nav (2016, 2017 or 2018) specifies which NAV version you want to find artifacts for.
  • cu (can be rtm, cu1, cu2, cu3… or 0, 1, 2, 3) determines the cumulative update you need
  • country (the localization you need, w1 is default).
  • select (all, closest, secondToLastMajor or latest) determines which artifact urls you get – meaning of this parameter is the same as in Get-BcArtifactUrl.

a couple of examples in how to use Get-NavArtifactUrl:

Write-Host -ForegroundColor Yellow "Get all NAV 2017 DK artifact Urls"
(Get-NavArtifactUrl -nav 2017 -country 'dk' -select all).count

Write-Host -ForegroundColor Yellow "Get latest NA onprem artifact Url"
Get-BCArtifactUrl -country "na" -type OnPrem

having the aritfact url, you can try to download it.


Download-Artifacts is a function, which does exactly what the name describes: Downloads the artifacts pointed out by an artifact url.

The parameters are:

  • artifactUrl is the artifact url returned by Get-BcArtifactUrl or Get-NavArtifactUrl
  • includePlatform indicates whether you want to download the platform as well
  • force indicates that you want to download the artifacts even though
  • basePath (default c:\bcartifacts.cache)

You can see a sample of the command and the output here:

PS c:\temp> Download-Artifacts -artifactUrl (Get-BCArtifactUrl -country "us") -includePlatform

Downloading application artifact /sandbox/16.2.13509.14082/us
Downloading C:\Users\freddyk\AppData\Local\Temp\
Unpacking application artifact
Downloading platform artifact /sandbox/16.2.13509.14082/platform
Downloading C:\Users\freddyk\AppData\Local\Temp\
Unpacking platform artifact
Downloading Prerequisite Components
Downloading c:\bcartifacts.cache\sandbox\16.2.13509.14082\platform\Prerequisite Components\Open XML SDK 2.5 for Microsoft Office\OpenXMLSDKv25.msi
Downloading c:\bcartifacts.cache\sandbox\16.2.13509.14082\platform\Prerequisite Components\Microsoft Report Viewer 2015\ReportViewer.msi
Downloading c:\bcartifacts.cache\sandbox\16.2.13509.14082\platform\Prerequisite Components\IIS URL Rewrite Module\rewrite_2.0_rtw_x64.msi
Downloading c:\bcartifacts.cache\sandbox\16.2.13509.14082\platform\Prerequisite Components\Microsoft Report Viewer 2015\SQLSysClrTypes.msi

It will download the artifacts and return the path. If you specify -includePlatform it will return two urls – if not, only one. Looking into the filesystem on the host, you will find the artifacts extracted in the bcartifacts.cache folder:

In the US folder you will find a manifest.json + all the things that are specific to the US application (database, applications, configuration packages etc.)

The manifest.json contains:

    "version":  "16.2.13509.14082",
    "platformUrl":  "sandbox/16.2.13509.14082/platform",
    "licenseFile":  "",
    "isBcSandbox":  true,
    "country":  "us",
    "platform":  "16.0.13440.13997",
    "database":  "database\\database.bak"

In this specific sample, the cronus licensefile is already in the database and is not in the artifact. The platformUrl tag might be missing in which case the platform is grabbed by replacing the country with platform in the artifact url.

Note that we also have a sandbox country called base. base is the onprem w1 demo data running in sandbox mode. I am aware that a lot of partners have used the base docker image for running tests and decided that we had to support this in artifacts as well.

Looking into the platform artifact, you will find everything from the platform + a number of w1 things (not the database). The reason for the w1 stuff is that a lot of the localizations uses the w1 things and instead of adding these to all localizations, we added them to the platform.

Basically a lot of stuff from the DVD.


This function is not new, but it does have a new parameter and a new option.

Flush-ContainerHelperCache -cache bcartifacts -keepDays 7

will flush the artifacts cache but keep the artifacts, which has been used the last 7 days.

Even though downloading from CDN is crazy fast, I still thought that this function could safely run on agents on a schedule to avoid the hard drive in filling up with artifacts.

As you can see, your cache folder will contain a file called lastused, which indicates to the containerhelper when this cache folder was used last. I could also do other things like deleting oldest cache folders until the cache is less than 10Gb – but for now – the days is all that is implemented.


What is this? You just thought you got rid of images and a new function appears, which can build an image????

Well yes, if you are using the same image again and again – it is much faster to run an image, which has been built, than just-in-time installation of the artifacts. So, you can build an image based in the artifacts and use it again and again.

The function has a number of parameters like baseImage, isolation, memory which are defaulted to use the baseimage, which matches your OS, but you can if you so desire use a different base image.

Mostly you will use these parameters:

  • artifactUrl – yes you guessed it, the artifact url you got from Get-BcArtifactUrl.
  • imageName – the name of your new docker image. This docker image can be used with new-bccontainer afterwards by specifying -imageName.
  • myscripts – exactly like you can add files to this in new-bccontainer which will end up in the c:\run\my folder, you can do it here as well and get them copied into the image, they will however not end up in the c:\run\my folder, but instead get copied into the c:\run folder, overriding any existing files there (in of ContainerHelper has a bug here)


$artifactUrl = Get-BCArtifactUrl -country "us" -version "15"
New-BcImage -artifactUrl $artifactUrl -imageName myownimage:latest
docker images
docker inspect myownimage:latest

Yes, this is an image, which is totally like the images you have been used to use.

This means that you can build an image and publish it to a private repository if you like – or you can leave it to people to build images on the fly. It does however seem cumbersome that you have to build an image and run it. Seems like some complex programming need to ensure that things are in sync – so why don’t we make it easy…


As already mentioned, New-BcContainer has a new parameter called artifactUrl and that is more or less everything you need to know.


If you specify BOTH artifactUrl AND imagename – then New-BcContainer will test whether imageName is based on artifactUrl and the current OS etc. etc. and if that is the case – it will run the image. If not it will call New-BcImage and build imageName from artifactUrl – and run that.

Wait… – what?

Yes, try this twice:

Remove-NavContainer test
Measure-Command {
    $artifactUrl = Get-BCArtifactUrl -version 16.1 -select Latest -country us
    $credential = New-Object pscredential 'admin', (ConvertTo-SecureString -String 'P@ssword1' -AsPlainText -Force)
    New-NavContainer `
        -accept_eula `
        -containerName test `
        -artifactUrl $artifactUrl `
        -Credential $credential `
        -auth UserPassword `
        -updateHosts `
        -imagename myown

The first run takes 8 minutes 35 seconds on my machine – the second run only a little more than 3 minutes and after the first run, I have a docker image called myown:sandbox-16.1.12629.14076-us. (BTW – you need ContainerHelper or higher for this to work)

If you don’t want to have the image named after the version, you just specify a tag yourself.


This function can be used on a running container to discover the artifactUrl used to create the container. If the container was started using a docker image (no artifact), this function will return blank.

That’s it – I think this describes the new functionality added to the containerHelper to help people working with Business Central artifacts in docker.


Freddy Kristiansen
Technical Evangelist

92 thoughts on “Working with artifacts

  1. Hi Freddy, is there any way to import a excel file to BC cloud without a prompt. I am looking for automating configuration package data import which will pick up excel file periodically and apply the data to database.


  2. This is pretty great so far!
    One thing, say I want to use another drive as cache? Scripts default to c:\bcartifacts.cache in lots of places, but what if I would like to use another folder as default, ie. D:\bcartifacts.cache? Any way to do that with parameters available? I can download artifacts into another folder with Download-Artifacts, but New-BCContainer will still only check c:\bcartifacts.cache and start a new download even if I have artifacts ready elsewhere.
    Maybe I’m missing something.


  3. Freddy,

    Do i understand correctly that creating the container with useBestContainerOS is not needed anymore when using the artifact URL?

    “.Parameter artifactUrl
    Url for application artifact to use. If you also specify an ImageName, an image will be build (if it doesn’t exist) using these artifacts and that will be run.”
    Source :

    when ImageName is empty, will it then not create a local image to cache for the next time? so to have the fast way of reusing the image over and over, a ImageName must be given?

    thnx for sharing!


  4. Hi Freddy, so in order to user the BSInsider storageAccount you need to use a sasToken but how do you get this sasToken in the first place. Great work as always BTW 🙂


  5. This example didn’t work for me:

    Get-BCArtifactUrl -country “us” -version “15”
    New-BcImage -artifactUrl $artifactUrl -imageName myownimage:latest
    docker images
    docker inspect myownimage:latest

    But It works if i change it to:

    $artifactUrl = Get-BCArtifactUrl -country “us” -version “15”
    New-BcImage -artifactUrl $artifactUrl -imageName myownimage:latest
    docker images
    docker inspect myownimage:latest


  6. I could not get this to work

    Get-BCArtifactUrl -version 16.2 -country us -select Latest -type onprem

    But this does

    Get-BCArtifactUrl -version 16.2 -country na -select Latest -type onprem

    Perhaps the onprem artifacts have different country tags.

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. Hi Freddy,
    I can’t find our full BC version using Get-BCArtifactURL (following is the command)
    Get-BCArtifactUrl -version 16.3.14085.14287 -country us
    Is it possible to not have a full version match ? or it’s just because this is still new ?


  11. Freddy

    What determines the image to use, I have created a Sandbox version for BC1602 and BC1603 and see that 2 different base images are used


    I would expect an image stating sandbox?? It works but just wondering


  12. Is there a way to get similar result as I got when using $labels = Get-NavContainerImageLabels -imageName $ImageName when specifying an artifactUrl instead of ImageName?

    I need the major version number in my scripts to determine what parameters to use when calling New-NavContainer.


  13. Hi Freddy,

    Is there a way to get similar result as I got when using $labels = Get-NavContainerImageLabels -imageName $ImageName when specifying an artifactUrl instead of ImageName?

    I need the major version number in my scripts to determine what parameters to use when calling New-NavContainer.


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  15. Hi Freddy we are comparing the versions published as artifacts for Switzerland (ch)
    with the version presented as the offical release.

    It seems that the application version lines up, but not the platform versions.

    Get-BcArtifactUrl -type ‘OnPrem’ -version ’16’ -country ‘ch’ -select ‘All’ gives

    But shows the following:
    Application Build 16.1.12805
    Platform Build 16.1.12758

    Application Build 16.2.13779
    Platform Build 16.2.13772

    Application Build 16.3.14238
    Platform Build 16.3.14195

    Just curious why and if that could lead to problems.


    • If you download the app artifact and look in the manifest, you will find that the platform version number indeed is different from the app version number.
      Platform artifacts are today just included under the app artifacts because they are only used in that.


  16. Are there artifacts for the generic OS images? I have been using the image and the installation DVD for NAV 2015.CU11 and that has been working fine, but I am getting the warning about images not being updated (as you predicted).


  17. Hi Freddy
    How about you implement working with the artifacts as ZIP files only. And then only extracting upon use.
    Could mean a lot for local storage or downloading artifacts before use.
    Also with the proper possibility of selecting artifacts from local repo using custom/local url in the -artifactUrl parameter as Ilari Leskinen asks above .


  18. Hi Freddy!

    I am wondering if it is possible to speed the process up even more by doing more caching? In particular the things that are done with new-bccontainer as a part of starting up the container such as creating users, starting up sql, config of service tier and such.

    Another question I have is what is the best way of using a custom database with this setup? Can that be easily cached as well? In my case that database is created every day and used in multiple builds. I guess I could do this by running a script in the new-bcimage but is that the best method to accomplish this?


    • You cannot really create the user until you know the username. And on the other things, they are pretty much things people can configure when running. I have done some optimizations, which will be published very soon – cutting around 25-30%.
      The best way on a custom database could be to restore it on a database server on the host and then just point to it?


      • Hi Freddy,

        Thanks for the replies! I have done some further experimentation and it does indeed start in just under 1 min on my machine. That assumes however that we use the standard database.

        When I change it to a different database it went up by quite a bit. I have seen it going up in anywhere from 120 seconds and up to about 270 seconds.

        I tried to battle this by creating a container image based on the image created by new-bcimage and in that new image I copied the database over and restored it on the docker SQL (localhost\sqlexpress). I did this under the assumption that the copying and restoring were the main factors for the increase in time but now it seems that this is not the case.

        What I am noticing is that starting service tier is taking a lot longer in this case. The only guess I am left with is that the first time start of the service tier is taking this much longer since when I restart the service tier it doesn’t take long at all.

        If this is indeed the case then I wonder if the best way to deal with it is to try to configure the service tier and start the service in the second image I created? Or is there possibly a way of changing the database in new-bcimage directly?

        I am not to keen on restoring the database outside docker since that defeats part of the purpose of using docker in the first place and that would also require all machines (dev and build) to have SQL servers and would come with additional hassle of managing that.


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  20. Hello,
    I am trying to get artifacts for NAV2018, but no matter which command I use I always get an error like:

    Downloading c:\bcartifacts.cache\onprem\11.0.19846.0\platform\Prerequisite Components\IIS URL Rewrite Module\rewrite_2.0_rtw_x64.msi
    Download-File : Exception calling “DownloadFile” with “2” argument(s): “The remote server returned an error: (404) Not Found.”

    It doesn’t matter if I use

    $artifactUrl = Get-BCArtifactUrl -type OnPrem -version 11.0.23572.0 -select Closest


    $artifactUrl = Get-NavArtifactUrl -nav 2018 -cu 1 -country dk -select Latest

    Can you help me with that :)?


    • Did that and now when trying to import-module I got this:

      PS C:\windows\system32> Import-Module navcontainerhelper
      Add-Type : Cannot add type. The type name ‘TimeoutWebClient’ already exists.
      At C:\Program Files\WindowsPowerShell\Modules\navcontainerhelper\\NavContainerHelper.psm1:93 char:1


  21. I got it all working as I would have expected by exploring additional commands via the help file (, but also looking at the script themselves for others. I use the following to set it up to be publicly accessible:

    $artifactUrl = Get-BCArtifactUrl
    $credential = New-Object pscredential ‘admin’, (ConvertTo-SecureString -String ‘abcd1234password’ -AsPlainText -Force)
    $additionalParameters = @(“–publish 8080:8080”,
    “–publish 443:443”,
    “–publish 7046-7049:7046-7049”)
    New-BCContainer `
    -accept_eula `
    -containerName navserver `
    -auth NavUserPassword `
    -updateHosts `
    -usebestcontaineros `
    -assignPremiumPlan `
    -includeTestToolkit `
    -licenseFile “license file uri” `
    -artifactUrl $artifactUrl `
    -Credential $credential `
    -PublicDnsName `
    -installCertificateOnHost `
    -useSSL `
    -additionalParameters $additionalParameters

    Keep in mind, if you run several containers, you’ll need to publish the ports in different ranges so that everything is externally available. I don’t recommend it, it’s a pita and you have to change stuff in the azure portal too. Easier to run multiple VMs.

    This works as expected, however, the Landing Page isn’t updated. Is there something I can do to have that Landing Page updated properly?


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  25. Suggestion and request : In case we have slower connection (like 40mbps) it takes for ever to download image and artifact. During this entire process there is little or no feedback specially when data is downloaded or saved to disk. If the hard drive is not SSD creating and BC image takes several hours including download and with no progress indicators it is hard to follow the progress.

    Can you do something with it?


  26. HI Freddy,
    Trying to get $artifactUrl = Get-BcArtifactUrl -country ‘us’ -type ‘OnPrem’ -version ’14’
    Seems these are no such artifacts… Will it be available for the BC13 an BC14?


  27. Hi Freddy,

    I have a problem with the container, I can’t really connect to it when I try to compile my code and I am not really sure why. Leaving a comment here with a question is my last option, that’s why I am here.

    I downloaded artifacts and then I changed the existing database and license file in “C:\bcartifacts.cache\onprem\16.3.14085.14238\w1\database” with my database and license file. After that, I created a docker image using the command (New-BcImage). Building image worked well, the container looks healthy and I could uninstall already installed apps. After that, I tried to compile some code and I got an error “Compile-AppInNavContainer : Exception calling “DownloadFile” with “2” argument(s): “Unable to connect to the remote server”. (I am sure that there is the right database in use (mine), I updated the manifest file.)

    Not really sure why I can’t open BC in the browser, also container ping returning TimeOut. The Database is relatively small and during building the Docker image there were no problems, all went smoothly. Why this happens? I am also using the latest version of navcontainerhelper (.26). The behavior is really strange and I really don’t know how to check or solve this kind of issue.

    I wanted to do this that way because yesterday out of nowhere my current CI script stopped working. I was using two containers, one as SQL server and another as BC, and suddenly BC container couldn’t connect to the SQL container anymore. At this point, I decided to write a new script using the Docker image approach but I got stuck with what I mentioned before. I also checked if there was any update for navcontainerhelper version and it looks like the version didn’t change so that couldn’t cause a problem. Also, there was no change in the win. platform (using win10 1909).

    In my case, I am using a modified Base Application and that’s the reason why I am using my database where Base Application is already installed. Regarding everything I tried also the third option, default BC container with Cronus database, where I try to install my custom Base Application but I get the problem again, this time another, Publishing Base App. fails with a timeout so no luck. (If I could install Base Application I could at least compile my code, what would be enough)

    Do you maybe have any idea what am I doing wrong so far?


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  29. Hi Freddy,

    Is it possible to download the artifacts, and add to the cache manually, like
    executing the command : Get-BCArtifactUrl -type OnPrem -select Latest
    output :
    I entered the above returned url in the browser and downloaded the artifact zip.
    I extracted the zip file into the directory C:\bcartifacts.cache\onprem\17.0.16993.0\w1 manually

    but when I try to create a bccontainer image using the following command, it starts redownloading the artifact file.

    $artifactUrl = Get-BCArtifactUrl -Type OnPrem -select Latest
    $credential = New-Object pscredential ‘admin’, (ConvertTo-SecureString -String ‘pass@whatever@me’ -AsPlainText -Force)
    New-BcContainer -accept_eula -containerName bctech -artifactUrl $artifactUrl -Credential $credential -updateHosts -imageName -includeAL -includeTestToolkit -installCertificateOnHost -memoryLimit 4G -useSSL

    what needs to be done, kindly guide.


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  36. I’ve been tasked to build an automated testing pipeline for Business Central. We need to test our apps against potentially hundreds of versions of Business Central. I have an Azure Devops Pipeline created and a pool of a dozen agent machines. Things are working now, but having each agent download all of the artifacts seems like an incredible waste.

    I was thinking I could use one agent machine to execute download-artifacts to bulk download all of the artifacts needed and save them to a central network share. If I did that, is there some way to then configure all of the other agent machines to grab their artifacts from that local folder instead of the Internet?


    • Download-Artifacts “just” populates the cache folder, which default is stored in c:\bcartifacts.cache.
      The structure of the folder is the same as the url – i.e. sandbox\version\country
      Platform is found next to the countries in the folder structure.
      If Download-Artifacts finds the folders populated, it will not download.


  37. Having problems downloading container that matches our prod version
    We have BC2020 Wave1 with Update 16.7 for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central 2020 Release Wave 1 (Application Build 16.7.18411, Platform Build 16.0.18359)

    Help says we are on “Version: NA Business Central 16.7 (Platform 16.0.18359.0 + Application 16.7.18411.0)”

    Above, it says “With Business Central, we do not use CU numbers, we use version numbers like 14.7, 15.4 and 16.2 and with this function you can easily find the versions available with a major, minor version.”

    Running Get-BCArtifactUrl -country us -version 16 -select Latest gives me 16.5.15897.22057

    How do I get 16.7 artifacts? Or am I misinterpreting something?


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  39. Hi freddy,

    I am trying to install BC wave2 i have installed till sandbox but after that i am not able to login to bc popup (webclient) what should i do after this , can you please help me on this?


  40. Hi Freddy.

    I find myself in a location in which there is minimal and very limited internet access. It is not possible to run New-BcContainer and download everything. However, I do have a number of artifacts previously downloaded e.g. C:\bcartifacts.cache\sandbox\18.3.27240.28575. Is it possible to create a new container using these and possibly eliminate the use of Get-BcArtifactUrl?

    I hope that makes sense 🙂


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  42. Hi Freddy,

    I am trying to download a docker container for Dominican Republic. I used the following PowerShell script to do it, however I got the response saying “You have to specify artifactUrl or imageName when creating a new container.” If I replace the country code “do” with another one such as “us”, it works fine.
    $auth = …
    $credential = …
    $containerName = …
    $licenseFile = …
    $artifactUrl = Get-BCArtifactUrl -version 20 -country “do” -select Latest

    New-BCContainer -accept_eula `
    -containerName $containerName `
    -artifactUrl $artifactUrl `
    -auth $auth `
    -credential $credential `
    -isolation hyperv `
    -accept_outdated `
    -updateHosts `
    -licenseFile $licenseFile `

    Is it possible to create a container with Dominican Republic localization?

    Looking for ward to hearing your suggestions.



  43. Get-BCArtifactUrl -sasToken $sasToken -country nl -select nextmajor
    is working fine but returns a sandbox. ….

    What is the command to retrieve onprem version?

    If I Add -onprem an error is generated :
    “You cannot specify storageAccount, type=OnPrem or version when selecting nextmajor release”

    If I repace select part a “403”error
    Get-BCArtifactUrl -type onprem -sasToken $sasToken -country nl -select all
    Error querying artifacts. Error message was Exception calling “DownloadString” with “1” argument(s): “The remote server returned an error: (403) Forbidden.”

    Repeating download attempt ( 2 of 10 )…

    Get-BCArtifactUrl Telemetry Correlation Id: 0d453182-c829-43ec-afb1-e4b5606ec036
    The variable ‘$enumerationResults’ cannot be retrieved because it has not been set.


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