Can I recover a branch after its deletion in Git? – Dev

The best answers to the question “Can I recover a branch after its deletion in Git?” in the category Dev.

QUESTION:

If I run git branch -d XYZ, is there a way to recover the branch? Is there a way to go back as if I didn’t run the delete branch command?

ANSWER:

When your commits are in the reflog

Most of the time unreachable commits are in the reflog. So, the first thing to try is to look at the reflog using the command git reflog (which displays the reflog for HEAD).

Perhaps something easier is to use the command git reflog name-of-my-branch if the commit was part of a specific and still existing branch. It also works with a remote e.g. if you had force pushed (though one should use git push --force-with-lease instead which prevents mistakes and is more recoverable).


When they aren’t in the reflog

If your commits are not in your reflog (perhaps they were deleted by a 3rd party tool that doesn’t write to the reflog), you may try this command first to create a file with all the dangling commits

git fsck --full --no-reflogs --unreachable --lost-found | grep commit | cut -d\  -f3 | xargs -n 1 git log -n 1 --pretty=oneline > .git/lost-found.txt

then read the SHA of the missing commit and reset you branch to it.

Frequent users may create the alias git rescue using

git config --global alias.rescue '!git fsck --full --no-reflogs --unreachable --lost-found | grep commit | cut -d\  -f3 | xargs -n 1 git log -n 1 --pretty=oneline > .git/lost-found.txt'

Here are some examples showing how to analyze the found commits

Display commit metadata (author, creation date and commit message):

git cat-file -p 48540dfa438ad8e442b18e57a5a255c0ecad0560

Also see diffs:

git log -p 48540dfa438ad8e442b18e57a5a255c0ecad0560

Create a branch on the found commit:

git branch commit_rescued 48540dfa438ad8e442b18e57a5a255c0ecad0560

Windows GUIs can easily recover commits (also uncommitted staged files) with GitExtensions via the menu Repository => Git maintenance => Recover lost objects...

Related: Easily recover staged files deleted

ANSWER:

Yes, you should be able to do git reflog --no-abbrev and find the SHA1 for the commit at the tip of your deleted branch, then just git checkout [sha]. And once you’re at that commit, you can just git checkout -b [branchname] to recreate the branch from there.


Credit to @Cascabel for this condensed/one-liner version and @Snowcrash for how to obtain the sha.

If you’ve just deleted the branch you’ll see something like this in your terminal Deleted branch <your-branch> (was <sha>). Then just use that <sha> in this one-liner:

git checkout -b <your-branch> <sha>

ANSWER:

The top voted solution does actually more than requested:

git checkout <sha>
git checkout -b <branch>

or

git checkout -b <branch> <sha>

move you to the new branch together with all recent changes you might have forgot to commit. This may not be your intention, especially when in the “panic mode” after losing the branch.

A cleaner (and simpler) solution seems to be the one-liner (after you found the <sha> with git reflog):

git branch <branch> <sha>

Now neither your current branch nor uncommited changes are affected. Instead only a new branch will be created all the way up to the <sha>.

If it is not the tip, it’ll still work and you get a shorter branch, then you can retry with new <sha> and new branch name until you get it right.

Finally you can rename the successfully restored branch into what it was named or anything else:

git branch -m <restored branch> <final branch>

Needless to say, the key to success was to find the right commit <sha>, so name your commits wisely 🙂

ANSWER:

If you like to use a GUI, you can perform the entire operation with gitk.

gitk --reflog

This will allow you to see the branch’s commit history as if the branch hadn’t been deleted. Now simply right click on the most recent commit to the branch and select the menu option Create new branch.