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GitLab Outage Uncovers the Absence of Backup Protocol

Although the average Internet user might not be familiar with sites like GitHub and GitLab, they're a staple amongst web programmers and software developers alike. Given its importance, you'd think the IT officials with GitLab would make data protection and backup their utmost priority. However, a recent incident has put the spotlight on their lack of a long-term data backup strategy.

What is GitLab?

Sites like GitHub and GitLab, although not technically related by any means, serve as file repositories and centralized hosting services. They work best for collaborative projects that feature any number of individuals or teams working on updating software, tracking bugs and implementing new functionality.

Needless to say, sites like this are used for some important projects, including digital storefronts, customer service portals and similar systems. The permanent loss of data could be disastrous in some situations.

The Worst Case Scenario

Unfortunately, disaster did strike GitLab on January 31, 2017. According to an official statement, a large-scale system outage was caused by the "accidental removal of data" from the server that houses their primary database. A lot of production data was lost in the incident.

GitLab's official statement went on to state: "Specifically, we lost modifications to database data such as projects, comments, user accounts, issues and snippets, that took place between 17:20 and 00:00 UTC on January 31. Our best estimate is that it affected roughly 5,000 projects, 5,000 comments and 700 new user accounts. Code repositories or wikis hosted on were unavailable during the outage, but were not affected by the data loss. GitLab Enterprise customers, GitHost customers, and self-hosted GitLab CE users were not affected by the outage, or the data loss."

However, it's important to note that the removal of data from their primary database was not alone in causing the catastrophe. The whole ordeal began on account of increased activity by spammers. Engineers with GitLab tried to resolve the problem as soon as possible, but their rushed work ultimately lead to even more mistakes.

GitLab's official post also stated: ''"Losing production data is unacceptable. To ensure this does not happen again we're working on multiple improvements to our operations & recovery procedures for In this article we'll look at what went wrong, what we did to recover, and what we'll do to prevent this from happening in the future."''

A Reminder to Backup Your Data

Minor setbacks aside, most of the projects that were hosted on GitLab have resumed progress at this point. While no real harm has been done, and while GitLab has stepped up their efforts in data backup and archival since the incident, this should serve as a stark reminder to the importance of backing up your critical data on a regular basis.

To find out more about the services offered by GitLab, or to begin hosting your project with the repository, please visit their official site at {{|}}. Like similar services, GitLab features an extensive community of knowledgeable professionals and amateurs who are capable of providing extensive technical support to help get you started.


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