When people talk about mirroring a git repository, usually we have a simple answer in mind:
Just git clone the repo and you’re set!!
However, what we want with mirroring is to replicate the state of an origin repository (or upstream repository). By state, we mean all the branches (including
master) and all the tags as well.
You’ll need to do this when migrating your upstream repository to a new “home”, like when switching services like GitHub.
As with most tools, there’s a lot of ways to accomplish that, but I’ll be focusing on two of them. The difference lays on whether you already have a working copy of that repository or not.
Mirroring a git repository without a local copy
If you haven’t cloned the repository before, you can mirror it to a new home by
$ git clone --mirror firstname.lastname@example.org/upstream-repository.git $ cd upstream-repository.git $ git push --mirror email@example.com/new-location.git
This will get all the branches and tags that are available in the upstream repository and will replicate those into the new location.
git push --mirror in repositories that weren’t cloned by
--mirror as well. It’ll overwrite the remote repository with your local references (and your local branches). This is not what we want. Read the next section to discover what to do in these cases.
git clone --mirror is preferred over
git clone --bare because the former also clones git notes and some other attributes.
Mirroring a git repository if you already have a local working copy
By working copy, we mean a “normal” repository, in which you have the files that are being tracked into git and where you perform commands like
git add and so on.
In this case, you may have a lot of local branches and tags that you don’t want to copy to the new location. But you do have references to remote branches. You can view them with
git branches -r. If you pay attention to that list, though, you may notice that you have a lot of branches that were already deleted in the upstream repository. Why?
Cleaning old references to remote branches
By default, when you do a
git fetch or
git pull, git will not delete the references to branches that were deleted in the upstream repository (you may view them in your
.git/refs/remotes dir). We need to clean those old references before mirroring them to a new location.
To do so, run
$ git fetch --prune
This will update your references to the origin repository and also clean the stale branches reported by
git branch -r.
Finally, mirroring the repository to a new location
Now we’re ready to send those updated references back to the
$ git push --prune firstname.lastname@example.org:/new-location.git +refs/remotes/origin/*:refs/heads/* +refs/tags/*:refs/tags/*
Ok, what just happened here?!
We want those references inside
.git/refs/remotes/origin to be the LOCAL references in the new location. The local references there will be stored in the
refs/heads dir. The same thing happens to tags.
+ sign indicates that we want to overwrite any reference there may already exist.
--prune means we want to delete any reference that may exist there if we don’t have such reference in our
refs/remotes/origin/* (and tags) references.
Git is certainly not an easy tool to learn. Although when you do, it turns into a very powerful and flexible tool.
If you want to learn more about it, please see the excellent book written by Scott Chacon and available for free.
What about you? Have any tips on git you want to share?
Co-founder and CEO at SourceLevel. Co-founder at Plataformatec.
Has a Golden Retriever and a mixed-breed Pitbull.
2 thoughts on “How to properly mirror a git repository”
If git bare includes more things then –mirror isn’t a complete backup, this article contradicts itself.
Furthermore, this article fails to cover the other part of traditional data mirroring: Keeping the mirror in sync, preferably in a secure way.
For first time:
git clone –mirror http://git/repo/source.git
git remote add target http://another/git/sourcemirror.git
git push –mirror target
git –git-dir=/path/to/source.git fetch –prune
git –git-dir=/path/to/source.git push –mirror target
more details on https://alphahinex.github.io/2023/02/26/mirror-git-repo-and-keep-sync/