Mark Ashley Bell

10 Aug 2019

Local GitHub repository backups with Powershell

I'm always aware that all of my precious source code lives on someone else's servers. Much as I love GitHub—and however unlikely it is to suddenly disappear—I still like to keep local backups of my code (which I can then back up somewhere off-site).

This was my first foray into GraphQL (which the GitHub API uses for data queries). I don't pretend to fully understand it yet, but having done a lot of development against REST APIs, I can definitely see the advantages!

Create a GitHub personal access token

These are application-specific OAuth tokens, which you can use for scripted interactions with the GitHub API. They don't require any user intervention during authentication, so are ideal for unattended processes, and can be revoked quickly without affecting any other applications.

Log in to your GitHub profile, go to, and click the Generate new token button.

You'll see a screen which lists a ton of OAuth scopes. This script will need access to repositories, so we'll need to select the repo scope. Unfortunately, this also provides write access to repositories (see here and here for the issue), but our script is only going to fetch repository names/URLs, so nothing to worry about too much in this instance.

Once you've checked the repo checkbox, add a note to say what the token is for, then click the Generate token button. Once it's been created, copy the token and keep it somewhere safe.

Powershell script

The script itself is pretty straightforward, as all we're doing is fetching a list of repository names and URLs, then iterating over them and either creating or updating a local git mirror for each.

Please note: as it stands, this script will only work if you have <= 100 repositories, as the GitHub GraphQL API will only return a maximum of 100 items on a single query. Modifying it to page through the results is certainly possible (and probably not too tricky), but for now I'm just going for simplicity!


$initialWorkingPath = Convert-Path '.'

# Create the authorisation headers using our access token
$bytes = [System.Text.Encoding]::UTF8.GetBytes("${Username}:${GitHubAccessToken}")
$base64Credentials = [Convert]::ToBase64String($Bytes)

$authorization = "Basic $base64Credentials"

$headers = New-Object "System.Collections.Generic.Dictionary[[String],[String]]"

$headers.Add("content-type", "application/json")
$headers.Add("Authorization", $authorization)

# This is the GraphQL query, which gets us the first
# 100 repos belonging to the specified username
$graphql = @"
query { 
    user(login:"$Username") { 
        repositories(first:100) { 
            nodes { name url } 

# We're going to wrap the GraphQL query in JSON, so 
# we need to escape it accordingly. 

# However, ConvertTo-Json converts newlines to \r\n, 
# which the API endpoints fail to parse... 


# So, first we remove newlines and multiple spaces
$queryJson = $graphql `
    -replace "[\r\n]+", " " `
    -replace "\s{2,}", " "

# The API request body is a JSON wrapper, with a
# 'query' property containing the actual query
$body = '{ "query": ' + (ConvertTo-Json $queryJson) + '}'

function Write-Divider {
    Write-Host "-----------------------------------------"

try {
    $response = Invoke-WebRequest `
        -Uri '' `
        -Method POST `
        -Headers $headers `
        -Body $body

    $responseJson = (ConvertFrom-Json $response)

    $repos = $

    $repos | ForEach {
        $name = $

        $mirrorPath = "$BackupFolderPath\$name.git"

        # Check if the repository already exists; if it does, 
        # we'll need to call a different git command
        $exists = Test-Path -Path $mirrorPath

        Write-Host ""

        if ($exists) {
            "Updating $name"
            cd $mirrorPath
            git remote update
        } else {
            "Cloning $name"
            cd $BackupFolderPath
            git clone $_.url --mirror
} finally {
    # We've been cd'ing about all over the place, 
    # so go back to where we started
    cd $initialWorkingPath

The complete script is available here; we can call it like this:

.\github-mirror.ps1 `
    -Username [YOUR_USERNAME] `
    -GitHubAccessToken [YOUR_GENERATED_TOKEN] `
    -BackupFolderPath [PATH]

You can then run it on a schedule by setting up a scheduled task, or call it from your favourite workflow app: whatever works best for you. That's all there is to it!

Questions or comments? Get in touch @markeebee, or email [Turn On Javascript To View Email Address].

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© Mark Ashley Bell 2023