Repository mirroring (FREE)

Repository mirroring allows for the mirroring of repositories to and from external sources. You can use it to mirror branches, tags, and commits between repositories. It's useful when you want to use a repository outside of GitLab.

A repository mirror at GitLab updates automatically. You can also manually trigger an update at most once every five minutes on with the limit set by the administrator on self-managed instances.

There are two kinds of repository mirroring supported by GitLab:

  • Push: for mirroring a GitLab repository to another location. (FREE)
  • Pull: for mirroring a repository from another location to GitLab. (PREMIUM)

When the mirror repository is updated, all new branches, tags, and commits are visible in the project's activity feed.

Users with Maintainer access to the project can also force an immediate update, unless:

For security reasons, the URL to the original repository is only displayed to users with Maintainer or Owner permissions to the mirrored project.

Use cases

The following are some possible use cases for repository mirroring:

  • You migrated to GitLab but still need to keep your project in another source. In that case, you can simply set it up to mirror to GitLab (pull) and all the essential history of commits, tags, and branches are available in your GitLab instance. (PREMIUM)
  • You have old projects in another source that you don't use actively anymore, but don't want to remove for archiving purposes. In that case, you can create a push mirror so that your active GitLab repository can push its changes to the old location.
  • You are a GitLab self-managed user for privacy reasons and your instance is closed to the public, but you still have certain software components that you want open sourced. In this case, utilizing GitLab to be your primary repository which is closed from the public, and using push mirroring to a repository that's public, allows you to open source specific projects and contribute back to the open source community.

Pushing to a remote repository (FREE)

  • Introduced in GitLab 13.5: LFS support over HTTPS.

For an existing project, you can set up push mirroring as follows:

  1. In your project, go to Settings > Repository, and then expand the Mirroring repositories section.
  2. Enter a repository URL.
  3. In the Mirror direction dropdown, select Push.
  4. Select an authentication method from the Authentication method dropdown. You can authenticate with either a password or an SSH key.
  5. Select the Only mirror protected branches check box, if necessary.
  6. Select the Keep divergent refs check box, if desired.
  7. Select Mirror repository to save the configuration.

Repository mirroring push settings screen

When push mirroring is enabled, only push commits directly to the mirrored repository to prevent the mirror diverging.

Unlike pull mirroring, the mirrored repository is not periodically auto-synced. The mirrored repository receives all changes only when:

Changes pushed to files in the repository are automatically pushed to the remote mirror at least:

  • Within five minutes of being received.
  • Within one minute if Only mirror protected branches is enabled.

In the case of a diverged branch, an error displays in the Mirroring repositories section.

Configuring push mirrors through the API

You can also create and modify project push mirrors through the remote mirrors API.

Keep divergent refs

By default, if any ref on the remote mirror has diverged from the local repository, the entire push fails, and no updates occur.

For example, if a repository has master, develop, and stable branches that have been mirrored to a remote, and then a new commit is added to develop on the mirror, the next push attempt fails, leaving master and stable out-of-date despite not having diverged. No change on any branch can be mirrored until the divergence is resolved.

With the Keep divergent refs option enabled, the develop branch is skipped, allowing master and stable to be updated. The mirror status reflects that develop has diverged and was skipped, and be marked as a failed update.

NOTE: After the mirror is created, this option can currently only be modified via the API.

Setting up a push mirror from GitLab to GitHub

To set up a mirror from GitLab to GitHub, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Create a GitHub personal access token with the public_repo box checked.
  2. Fill in the Git repository URL field using this format: https://<your_github_username><your_github_group>/<your_github_project>.git.
  3. Fill in Password field with your GitHub personal access token.
  4. Select Mirror repository.

The mirrored repository is listed. For example, https://*****:*****<your_github_group>/<your_github_project>.git.

The repository pushes shortly thereafter. To force a push, select the Update now ({retry}) button.

Setting up a push mirror from GitLab to AWS CodeCommit

AWS CodeCommit push mirroring is currently the best way to connect GitLab repositories to AWS CodePipeline, as GitLab isn't yet supported as one of their Source Code Management (SCM) providers.

Each new AWS CodePipeline needs significant AWS infrastructure setup. It also requires an individual pipeline per branch.

If AWS CodeDeploy is the final step of a CodePipeline, you can, instead, leverage GitLab CI/CD pipelines and simply use the AWS CLI in the final job in .gitlab-ci.yml to deploy to CodeDeploy.

NOTE: GitLab-to-AWS-CodeCommit push mirroring cannot use SSH authentication until GitLab issue 34014 is resolved.

To set up a mirror from GitLab to AWS CodeCommit:

  1. In the AWS IAM console, create an IAM user.

  2. Add the following least privileges permissions for repository mirroring as an "inline policy".

    The Amazon Resource Names (ARNs) must explicitly include the region and account. The IAM policy below grants privilege for mirroring access to two sample repositories. These permissions have been tested to be the minimum (least privileged) required for mirroring:

        "Version": "2012-10-17",
        "Statement": [
                "Sid": "MinimumGitLabPushMirroringPermissions",
                "Effect": "Allow",
                "Action": [
                "Resource": [
  3. After the user was created, select the AWS IAM user name.

  4. Select the Security credentials tab.

  5. Under HTTPS Git credentials for AWS CodeCommit select Generate credentials.

    NOTE: This Git user ID and password is specific to communicating with CodeCommit. Do not confuse it with the IAM user ID or AWS keys of this user.

  6. Copy or download special Git HTTPS user ID and password.

  7. In the AWS CodeCommit console, create a new repository to mirror from your GitLab repository.

  8. Open your new repository, and then select Clone URL > Clone HTTPS (not Clone HTTPS (GRC)).

  9. In GitLab, open the repository to be push-mirrored.

  10. Go to Settings > Repository, and then expand Mirroring repositories.

  11. Fill in the Git repository URL field using this format:


    Replace <your_aws_git_userid> with the AWS special HTTPS Git user ID from the IAM Git credentials created earlier. Replace <your_codecommit_repo> with the name of your repository in CodeCommit.

  12. For Mirror direction, select Push.

  13. For Authentication method, select Password and fill in the Password field with the special IAM Git clone user ID password created earlier in AWS.

  14. The option Only mirror protected branches should be good for CodeCommit as it pushes more frequently (from every five minutes to every minute). CodePipeline requires individual pipeline setups for named branches you wish to have a AWS CI setup for. Because feature branches that have dynamic names are unsupported, configuring Only mirror protected branches doesn't cause flexibility problems with CodePipeline integration as long as you are also willing to protect all the named branches you want to build CodePipelines for.

  15. Select Mirror repository. You should see the mirrored repository appear:


To test mirroring by forcing a push, select the half-circle arrows button (hover text is Update now). If Last successful update shows a date, you have configured mirroring correctly. If it isn't working correctly, a red error tag appears and shows the error message as hover text.

Setting up a push mirror to another GitLab instance with 2FA activated

  1. On the destination GitLab instance, create a personal access token with write_repository scope.
  2. On the source GitLab instance:
    1. Fill in the Git repository URL field using this format: https://oauth2@<destination host>/<your_gitlab_group_or_name>/<your_gitlab_project>.git.
    2. Fill in the Password field with the GitLab personal access token created on the destination GitLab instance.
    3. Select Mirror repository.

Pulling from a remote repository (PREMIUM)

You can set up a repository to automatically have its branches, tags, and commits updated from an upstream repository.

This is useful when a repository you're interested in is located on a different server, and you want to be able to browse its content and its activity using the familiar GitLab interface.

To configure mirror pulling for an existing project:

  1. If you configured two-factor authentication (2FA) for GitHub, create a personal access token for GitHub with the read_repository scope. If 2FA is enabled, this personal access token serves as your GitHub password.
  2. In your project, go to Settings > Repository, and then expand the Mirroring repositories section.
  3. In the Git repository URL field, enter a repository URL.
  4. In the Mirror direction dropdown, select Pull.
  5. In the Authentication method dropdown, select your authentication method.
  6. Select from the following checkboxes, if needed:
    • Overwrite diverged branches
    • Trigger pipelines for mirror updates
    • Only mirror protected branches
  7. Select Mirror repository to save the configuration.

Repository mirroring pull settings screen - upper part

Repository mirroring pull settings screen - lower part

Because GitLab is now set to pull changes from the upstream repository, you should not push commits directly to the repository on GitLab. Instead, any commits should be pushed to the remote repository. Changes pushed to the remote repository are pulled into the GitLab repository, either:

  • Automatically within a certain period of time.
  • When a forced update is initiated.

WARNING: If you do manually update a branch in the GitLab repository, the branch becomes diverged from upstream, and GitLab no longer automatically updates this branch to prevent any changes from being lost. Deleted branches and tags in the upstream repository are not reflected in the GitLab repository.

How it works

Once the pull mirroring feature has been enabled for a repository, the repository is added to a queue.

Once per minute, a Sidekiq cron job schedules repository mirrors to update, based on:

  • The capacity available. This is determined by Sidekiq settings. For, see Sidekiq settings.
  • The number of repository mirrors already in the queue that are due to be updated. Being due depends on when the repository mirror was last updated and how many times it's been retried.

Repository mirrors are updated as Sidekiq becomes available to process them. If the process of updating the repository mirror:

  • Succeeds: An update is enqueued again with at least a 30 minute wait.
  • Fails: (For example, a branch diverged from upstream.), The update attempted again later. Mirrors can fail up to 14 times before they are no longer enqueued for updates.

Overwrite diverged branches (PREMIUM)

  • Moved to GitLab Premium in 13.9.

You can choose to always update your local branches with remote versions, even if they have diverged from the remote.

WARNING: For mirrored branches, enabling this option results in the loss of local changes.

To use this option, check the Overwrite diverged branches box when creating a repository mirror.

Trigger pipelines for mirror updates (PREMIUM)

  • Moved to GitLab Premium in 13.9.

If this option is enabled, pipelines trigger when branches or tags are updated from the remote repository. Depending on the activity of the remote repository, this may greatly increase the load on your CI runners. Only enable this if you know they can handle the load. CI uses the credentials assigned when you set up pull mirroring.

Hard failure (PREMIUM)

  • Moved to GitLab Premium in 13.9.

After 14 consecutive unsuccessful retries, the mirroring process is marked as a hard failure and mirroring attempts stop. This failure is visible in either the:

  • Project's main dashboard.
  • Pull mirror settings page.

You can resume the project mirroring again by forcing an update.

Trigger an update using the API (PREMIUM)

  • Moved to GitLab Premium in 13.9.

Pull mirroring uses polling to detect new branches and commits added upstream, often minutes afterwards. If you notify GitLab by API, updates are pulled immediately.

For more information, see Start the pull mirroring process for a Project.

Mirror only protected branches (PREMIUM)

  • Moved to GitLab Premium in 13.9.

Based on the mirror direction that you choose, you can opt to mirror only the protected branches from/to your remote repository. For pull mirroring, non-protected branches are not mirrored and can diverge.

To use this option, check the Only mirror protected branches box when creating a repository mirror. (PREMIUM)

SSH authentication

SSH authentication is mutual:

  • You have to prove to the server that you're allowed to access the repository.
  • The server also has to prove to you that it's who it claims to be.

You provide your credentials as a password or public key. The server that the other repository resides on provides its credentials as a "host key", the fingerprint of which needs to be verified manually.

If you're mirroring over SSH (using an ssh:// URL), you can authenticate using:

  • Password-based authentication, just as over HTTPS.
  • Public key authentication. This is often more secure than password authentication, especially when the other repository supports deploy keys.

To get started:

  1. In your project, go to Settings > Repository, and then expand the Mirroring repositories section.
  2. Enter an ssh:// URL for mirroring.

NOTE: SCP-style URLs (that is, are not supported at this time.

Entering the URL adds two buttons to the page:

  • Detect host keys.
  • Input host keys manually.

If you select the:

  • Detect host keys button, GitLab fetches the host keys from the server and display the fingerprints.
  • Input host keys manually button, a field is displayed where you can paste in host keys.

Assuming you used the former, you now need to verify that the fingerprints are those you expect. and other code hosting sites publish their fingerprints in the open for you to check:

Other providers vary. If you're running self-managed GitLab, or otherwise have access to the server for the other repository, you can securely gather the key fingerprints:

$ cat /etc/ssh/ssh_host*pub | ssh-keygen -E md5 -l -f -
256 MD5:f4:28:9f:23:99:15:21:1b:bf:ed:1f:8e:a0:76:b2:9d (ECDSA)
256 MD5:e6:eb:45:8a:3c:59:35:5f:e9:5b:80:12:be:7e:22:73 (ED25519)
2048 MD5:3f:72:be:3d:62:03:5c:62:83:e8:6e:14:34:3a:85:1d (RSA)

NOTE: You may need to exclude -E md5 for some older versions of SSH.

When mirroring the repository, GitLab checks that at least one of the stored host keys matches before connecting. This can prevent malicious code from being injected into your mirror, or your password being stolen.

SSH public key authentication

To use SSH public key authentication, you must also choose that option from the Authentication method dropdown. When the mirror is created, GitLab generates a 4096-bit RSA key that can be copied by selecting the Copy SSH public key button.

Repository mirroring copy SSH public key to clipboard button

You then need to add the public SSH key to the other repository's configuration:

  • If the other repository is hosted on GitLab, you should add the public SSH key as a deploy key.
  • If the other repository is hosted elsewhere, you may need to add the key to your user's authorized_keys file. Paste the entire public SSH key into the file on its own line and save it.

If you need to change the key at any time, you can remove and re-add the mirror to generate a new key. Update the other repository with the new key to keep the mirror running.

NOTE: The generated keys are stored in the GitLab database, not in the file system. Therefore, SSH public key authentication for mirrors cannot be used in a pre-receive hook.

Forcing an update (FREE)

While mirrors are scheduled to update automatically, you can always force an update by using the update button which is available on the Mirroring repositories section of the Repository Settings page.

Repository mirroring force update user interface

Bidirectional mirroring (PREMIUM)

  • Moved to GitLab Premium in 13.9.

WARNING: Bidirectional mirroring may cause conflicts.

If you configure a GitLab repository to both pull from, and push to, the same remote source, there is no guarantee that either repository updates correctly. If you set up a repository for bidirectional mirroring, you should prepare for the likely conflicts by deciding who resolves them and how.

Rewriting any mirrored commit on either remote causes conflicts and mirroring to fail. This can be prevented by mirroring only protected branches.

You should protect the branches you wish to mirror on both remotes to prevent conflicts caused by rewriting history.

Bidirectional mirroring also creates a race condition where commits made close together to the same branch causes conflicts. The race condition can be mitigated by reducing the mirroring delay by using a Push event webhook to trigger an immediate pull to GitLab. Push mirroring from GitLab is rate limited to once per minute when only push mirroring protected branches.

Configure a webhook to trigger an immediate pull to GitLab

Assuming you have already configured the push and pull mirrors in the upstream GitLab instance, to trigger an immediate pull as suggested above, you must configure a Push Event Web Hook in the downstream instance.

To do this:

  1. Create a personal access token with API scope.

  2. In your project, go to Settings > Webhooks.

  3. Add the webhook URL which (in this case) uses the Pull Mirror API request to trigger an immediate pull after updates to the repository.<your_access_token>
  4. Ensure the Push Events checkbox is selected.

  5. Select Add Webhook to save the webhook.

To test the integration, select the Test button and confirm GitLab doesn't return an error message.

Preventing conflicts using a pre-receive hook

WARNING: The solution proposed negatively affects the performance of Git push operations because they are proxied to the upstream Git repository.

A server-side pre-receive hook can be used to prevent the race condition described above by only accepting the push after first pushing the commit to the upstream Git repository. In this configuration one Git repository acts as the authoritative upstream, and the other as downstream. The pre-receive hook is installed on the downstream repository.

Read about configuring Server hooks on the GitLab server.

A sample pre-receive hook is provided below.

#!/usr/bin/env bash

# --- Assume only one push mirror target
# Push mirroring remotes are named `remote_mirror_<id>`, this finds the first remote and uses that.
TARGET_REPO=$(git remote | grep -m 1 remote_mirror)

  # --- Arguments
  OLDREV=$(git rev-parse $1)
  NEWREV=$(git rev-parse $2)

  # --- Pattern of branches to proxy pushes
  allowlist=$(expr "$branch" : "\(master\)")

  case "$refname" in
      branch=$(expr "$refname" : "refs/heads/\(.*\)")

      if [ "$allowlist" = "$branch" ]; then
        unset GIT_QUARANTINE_PATH # handle
        error="$(git push --quiet $TARGET_REPO $NEWREV:$REFNAME 2>&1)"

        if [ "$fail" != "0" ]; then
          echo >&2 ""
          echo >&2 " Error: updates were rejected by upstream server"
          echo >&2 "   This is usually caused by another repository pushing changes"
          echo >&2 "   to the same ref. You may want to first integrate remote changes"
          echo >&2 ""

# Allow dual mode: run from the command line just like the update hook, or
# if no arguments are given then run as a hook script
if [ -n "$1" -a -n "$2" -a -n "$3" ]; then
  # Output to the terminal in command line mode - if someone wanted to
  # resend an email; they could redirect the output to sendmail
  # themselves
  PAGER= proxy_push $2 $3 $1
  # Push is proxied upstream one ref at a time. Because of this it is possible
  # for some refs to succeed, and others to fail. This will result in a failed
  # push.
  while read oldrev newrev refname
    proxy_push $oldrev $newrev $refname

Note that this sample has a few limitations:

  • This example may not work verbatim for your use case and might need modification.
    • It doesn't regard different types of authentication mechanisms for the mirror.
    • It doesn't work with forced updates (rewriting history).
    • Only branches that match the allowlist patterns are proxy pushed.
  • The script circumvents the Git hook quarantine environment because the update of $TARGET_REPO is seen as a ref update, and Git displays warnings about it.

Mirroring with Perforce Helix via Git Fusion (PREMIUM)

Moved to GitLab Premium in 13.9.

WARNING: Bidirectional mirroring should not be used as a permanent configuration. Refer to Migrating from Perforce Helix for alternative migration approaches.

Git Fusion provides a Git interface to Perforce Helix which can be used by GitLab to bidirectionally mirror projects with GitLab. This may be useful in some situations when migrating from Perforce Helix to GitLab where overlapping Perforce Helix workspaces cannot be migrated simultaneously to GitLab.

If using mirroring with Perforce Helix, you should only mirror protected branches. Perforce Helix rejects any pushes that rewrite history. Only the fewest number of branches should be mirrored due to the performance limitations of Git Fusion.

When configuring mirroring with Perforce Helix via Git Fusion, the following Git Fusion settings are recommended:

  • change-pusher should be disabled. Otherwise, every commit is rewritten as being committed by the mirroring account, rather than being mapped to existing Perforce Helix users or the unknown_git user.
  • unknown_git user is used as the commit author if the GitLab user doesn't exist in Perforce Helix.

Read about Git Fusion settings on


Should an error occur during a push, GitLab displays an Error highlight for that repository. Details on the error can then be seen by hovering over the highlight text.

13:Received RST_STREAM with error code 2 with GitHub

If you receive an "13:Received RST_STREAM with error code 2" while mirroring to a GitHub repository, your GitHub settings might be set to block pushes that expose your email address used in commits. Either set your email address on GitHub to be public, or disable the Block command line pushes that expose my email setting.

4:Deadline Exceeded

When upgrading to GitLab 11.11.8 or newer, a change in how usernames are represented means that you may need to update your mirroring username and password to ensure that %40 characters are replaced with @.

Connection blocked because server only allows public key authentication

As the error indicates, the connection is getting blocked between GitLab and the remote repository. Even if a TCP Check is successful, you must check any networking components in the route from GitLab to the remote Server to ensure there's no blockage.

For example, we've seen this error when a Firewall was performing a Deep SSH Inspection on outgoing packets.