Today I did a clone of one of my git repositories and it took ages to download. Looking into what got downloaded it was easy to see why. The .git folder was over 500Mb in size.

I know how this has happened. This repository was created in 2013 and has been used by me as a dumping ground for lots of things related to the code which never should have been committed.

Since 2013 I have learnt a lot more about coding and git so the current version of the files in git isn’t too bad. But git keeps the history of changes for every file so bad practices like this are kept.

What can I do about this? Well what does google suggest? I found this blog post.

It suggests ways of listing all the large files that are stored in git and a way to remove them. As I am the only person that regularly commits to this repository I see no problem with giving it a go.

I will summarise the steps here.

git clone url

Now you need all the remote branches so there is a bash script to run

for branch in `git branch -a | grep remotes | grep -v HEAD | grep -v master`; do
git branch –track ${branch##*/} $branch

Another bash script then lists the top 10 large files

#set -x
# Shows you the largest objects in your repo’s pack file.
# Written for osx.
# @see
# @author Antony Stubbs
# set the internal field spereator to line break, so that we can iterate easily over the verify-pack output
# list all objects including their size, sort by size, take top 10
objects=`git verify-pack -v .git/objects/pack/pack-*.idx | grep -v chain | sort -k3nr | head`
echo “All sizes are in kB. The pack column is the size of the object, compressed, inside the pack file.”
for y in $objects do
# extract the size in bytes
size=$((`echo $y | cut -f 5 -d ‘ ‘`/1024))
# extract the compressed size in bytes
compressedSize=$((`echo $y | cut -f 6 -d ‘ ‘`/1024))
# extract the SHA
sha=`echo $y | cut -f 1 -d ‘ ‘`
# find the objects location in the repository tree
other=`git rev-list –all –objects | grep $sha`
#lineBreak=`echo -e “\n”`
echo -e $output

After running the script you will see details of your largest files. I had *.msi and *.exe files in the mix. To remove them run the following, where filename is the path to the file that needs removing.

git filter-branch –tag-name-filter cat –index-filter ‘git rm -r –cached –ignore-unmatch filename’ –prune-empty -f — –all

To reclaim the disk space run the following commands

rm -rf .git/refs/original/
git reflog expire –expire=now –all
git gc –prune=now
git gc –aggressive –prune=now

Now push your changes back to the remote server.

git push origin –force –all
git push origin –force –tags

Now if you do a clone it will be much smaller than before and you can get back to coding much quicker, without having to wait.

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Simon Foster
Web Developer
I have worked in SysAdmin and IT Management but now work as a Web Developer. I love everything IT related and I am trying to learn as much as I can especially about DevOps. Why not follow me on twitter?

2 thoughts on “My git repository is too large!

  1. Do you know that your git repo size is just 4 times less in size than Linux Kernel repo? How many lines of code does your project contain and how many revisions?

    IMO, it’s super funny to see how developers struggle with Git and don’t call it stupid or anything. A lot of pain and the solution you’ve suggested in the article acts as a mere painkiller. I really hope that you haven’t corrupted (or simply lost) the revision history of the repository. 😉

    At the same time, there are tools that can perform much better than git in certain cases. Hg if you need DVCS or SVN if you need centralized repos:

    Dropping complete revision history in favor of speed or space consumption is a bad practice that must be avoided at all costs. However, a lot of developers who chose Git as their version-control system unintentionally chose this bad practice and follow it: &

    • My code base contains binary files so that combined with my bad practices is why it got so large. I don’t think I can really blame git for my mistakes, and without them I wouldn’t learn new stuff.

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