git-pack-refs manpage

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GIT-PACK-REFS(1)		  Git Manual		      GIT-PACK-REFS(1)

       git-pack-refs - Pack heads and tags for efficient repository access

       git pack-refs [--all] [--no-prune]

       Traditionally, tips of branches and tags (collectively known as refs)
       were stored one file per ref in a (sub)directory under $GIT_DIR/refs
       directory. While many branch tips tend to be updated often, most tags
       and some branch tips are never updated. When a repository has hundreds
       or thousands of tags, this one-file-per-ref format both wastes storage
       and hurts performance.

       This command is used to solve the storage and performance problem by
       storing the refs in a single file, $GIT_DIR/packed-refs. When a ref is
       missing from the traditional $GIT_DIR/refs directory hierarchy, it is
       looked up in this file and used if found.

       Subsequent updates to branches always create new files under
       $GIT_DIR/refs directory hierarchy.

       A recommended practice to deal with a repository with too many refs is
       to pack its refs with --all once, and occasionally run git pack-refs.
       Tags are by definition stationary and are not expected to change.
       Branch heads will be packed with the initial pack-refs --all, but only
       the currently active branch heads will become unpacked, and the next
       pack-refs (without --all) will leave them unpacked.

	   The command by default packs all tags and refs that are already
	   packed, and leaves other refs alone. This is because branches are
	   expected to be actively developed and packing their tips does not
	   help performance. This option causes branch tips to be packed as
	   well. Useful for a repository with many branches of historical

	   The command usually removes loose refs under $GIT_DIR/refs
	   hierarchy after packing them. This option tells it not to.

       Older documentation written before the packed-refs mechanism was
       introduced may still say things like ".git/refs/heads/<branch> file
       exists" when it means "branch <branch> exists".

       Part of the git(1) suite

Git 2.38.4			  05/16/2024		      GIT-PACK-REFS(1)