GitLab Incremental BackUp
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There are multiple components being backed up when running the gitlab backups rake task:
The database entries (notes, issues, events, projects, users etc etc) and then the actual git data.
The backup rake task just takes a copy of everything and tars it up.
If you want to create your own backup strategy, you can do that easily, just separate the two tasks out and use backup strategies for the respective components.
MySQL database incremental backups: https://dev.mysql.com/doc/mysql-enterprise-backup/4.0/en/mysqlbackup.incremental.html
With the git data, depending on your backend file system you can use snapshots and rsync to get this done. There’s more information here: https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/blob/master/doc/raketasks/backup_restore.md#alternative-backup-strategies
The options you choose will depend on your environment as always, but I would advise 1) testing your restores regularly, and 2) still taking regular full backups using the rake task.