GitHub-backup: backs up everything GitHub knows about a repository or a user

github-backup is a simple tool you run in a git repository you cloned from
GitHub. It backs up everything GitHub publishes about the repository,
including branches, tags, other forks, issues, comments, wikis, milestones,
pull requests, watchers, and stars.


cabal install github-backup --bindir=$HOME/bin

(Cabal is bundled with the Haskell Platform.)


Run github-backup with no parameters, inside a git repository cloned
from GitHub to back up that repository.

Or, if you have a GitHub account, run github-backup username
to clone and back up your account’s repositories, as well
as the repositories you’re watching and have starred.

Why backup GitHub repositories

There are a couple of reasons to want to back this stuff up:

  • In case something happens to GitHub. More generally because
    keeping your data in the cloud and relying on the cloud to
    back it up is foolish.

  • In case someone takes down a repository that you were interested in.
    If you run github-backup with your username, it will back up all
    the repositories you have watched and starred.

  • So you can keep working on your repository while on a plane, or
    on a remote beach or mountaintop. Just like Linus intended.

What to expect

Each time you run github-backup, it will find any new forks on GitHub. It
will add remotes to your repository for the forks, using names like
github_torvalds_subsurface. It will fetch from every fork.

It downloads metadata from each fork. This is stored
into a branch named “github”. Each fork gets a directory in there,
like torvalds_subsurface. Inside the directory there will be some
files, like torvalds_subsurface/watchers. There may be further
directories, like for comments: torvalds_subsurface/comments/1.

You can follow the commits to the github branch to see what information
changed on GitHub over time.

The format of the files in the github branch is currently Haskell
serialized data types. This is plain text, and readable, if you squint.


github-backup is repository-focused. It does not try to back up other
information from GitHub. In particular, social network stuff, like
users who are following you, is not backed up.

github-backup does not log into GitHub, so it cannot backup private

Notes added to commits and lines of code don’t get backed up yet.
There is only recently API support for this.

The labels that can be added to issues and milestones are not backed up.
Neither are the hooks. They could be, but don’t seem important
enough for the extra work involved. Yell if you need them.

github-backup re-downloads all issues, comments, and so on
each time it’s run. This may be slow if your repo has a lot of them,
or even if it just has a lot of forks.

Bear in mind that this uses the GitHub API; don’t run it every 5 minutes.
GitHub rate limits the
API to some small number of requests per hour when used without
authentication. To avoid this limit, you can set GITHUB_USER and
GITHUB_PASSWORD in the environment and it will log in when making
(most) API requests.

Anyway, github-backup does do an incremental backup, picking up where it
left off, so will complete the backup eventually even if it’s rate limited.


github-backup was written by Joey Hess

It is made possible thanks to:

Original URL:

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