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Remove Large Files in Git

September 6th, 2018 - SoftwareTutorial(1 min)

TL;DR: BFG is your friend. java -jar bfg.jar -b 50M myrepo-bfg.git for example

The other day I’ve committed a rather large file by mistake (generated movie of the git commit history). This was a bit annoying because all other developers would have suddenly to check out a 1G file :( with no LFS support…

As I took the opportunity to clean up the repository also, I’ve noticed the size of the cloned reop was rather huge! So, I was presented with several options

  1. Create a new repo with the cleaned version (i.e. lose the history)
  2. Try to migrate selectively commits
  3. Remove the large file (and other larg-ish files)

Initially, I wanted to start with the second variant, but making the cuts and patching things around was difficult (well, active development, a bunch of commits in the meantime…). So, the third option looked promising. For this, you need the excellent BFG tool.

My workflow was something like this:

  1. git clone --mirror http://.../myrepo.git
  2. git clone --mirror myrepo.git myrepo-bfg.git
  3. java -jar bfg.jar -b 50M myrepo-bfg.git
  4. git reflog expire --expire=now --all && git gc --prune=now --aggressive
  5. git commit origin


  1. Clone the original repo as a mirror
  2. Make a copy (in case I mess up)
  3. Run bfg to remove all large files
  4. Expire the reflog and do a garbage collection to prune the tree
  5. Commit back

This way, I got rid of all big files. Cool!

Important note: This process will permanently delete stuff from git, as if it was never there. USE IT WITH CARE (aka I’m not responsible if you empty up your company’s code base!)


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A little experiment: