Back up and Restore GitLab with gitlab-backup-cli

Tier: Free, Premium, Ultimate Offering: Self-managed Status: Experiment

This tool is under development and is ultimately meant to replace the Rake tasks used for backing up and restoring GitLab. You can follow the development of this tool in the epic: Next Gen Scalable Backup and Restore.

Feedback on the tool is welcome in the feedback issue.

Taking a backup

To take a backup of the current GitLab installation:

sudo gitlab-backup-cli backup all

Backup directory structure

Example backup directory structure:

└── 1714053314_2024_04_25_17.0.0-pre
    ├── artifacts.tar.gz
    ├── backup_information.json
    ├── builds.tar.gz
    ├── ci_secure_files.tar.gz
    ├── db
    │   ├── ci_database.sql.gz
    │   └── database.sql.gz
    ├── lfs.tar.gz
    ├── packages.tar.gz
    ├── pages.tar.gz
    ├── registry.tar.gz
    ├── repositories
    │   ├── default
    │   │   ├── @hashed
    │   │   └── @snippets
    │   └── manifests
    │       └── default
    ├── terraform_state.tar.gz
    └── uploads.tar.gz

The db directory is used to back up the GitLab PostgreSQL database using pg_dump to create an SQL dump. The output of pg_dump is piped through gzip in order to create a compressed SQL file.

The repositories directory is used to back up Git repositories, as found in the GitLab database.

Backup ID

Backup IDs identify individual backups. You need the backup ID of a backup archive if you need to restore GitLab and multiple backups are available.

Backups are saved in a directory set in backup_path, which is specified in the config/gitlab.yml file.

  • By default, backups are stored in /var/opt/gitlab/backups.
  • By default, backup directories are named after backup_id’s where <backup-id> identifies the time when the backup was created and the GitLab version.

For example, if the backup directory name is 1714053314_2024_04_25_17.0.0-pre, the time of creation is represented by 1714053314_2024_04_25 and the GitLab version is 17.0.0-pre.

Backup metadata file (backup_information.json)


backup_information.json is found in the backup directory, and it stores metadata about the backup. For example:

  "metadata_version": 2,
  "backup_id": "1714053314_2024_04_25_17.0.0-pre",
  "created_at": "2024-04-25T13:55:14Z",
  "gitlab_version": "17.0.0-pre"

Known issues

When working with gitlab-backup-cli, you might encounter the following issues.

Architecture compatibility

If you use the gitlab-backup-cli tool on architectures other than the 1K architecture, you might experience issues. This tool is supported only on 1K architecture and is recommended only for relevant environments.

Backup strategy

Changes to existing files during backup might cause issues on the GitLab instance. This issue occurs because the tool’s initial version does not use the copy strategy.

A workaround of this issue, is either to:

  • Transition the GitLab instance into Maintenance Mode.
  • Restrict traffic to the servers during backup to preserve instance resources.

We’re investigating an alternative to the copy strategy, see issue 428520.