December 4, 2014

Git Bundle and Git Archive Tutorial

Git at Scale
Version Control

Git bundle and Git archive are Git commands. Here, we break down what Git archive and Git bundle are — and the main differences between them. 

Read on to learn:


What Is Git Archive?

Git archive is a command that creates an archive of files from a named tree. Using this command can be a useful way to export your repository.

Git Archive vs. Git Bundle

Let's compare Git archive vs. Git bundle. 

What Git Bundle and Git Archive Have in Common

Both Git bundle and Git archive provide the means to output portions of a repository:

Git archive sends only the specified file contents to the standard output.

Git bundle creates a single file containing both file contents and history.

The Biggest Difference Between Git Bundle and Git Archive

The difference between Git bundle and Git archive is whether the contents of the .git folder are included. Git archive excludes the contents of the .git folder, while Git bundle includes it.

From a practical standpoint, these commands serve a variety of purposes. They can:

  • Back up just the files in a single sourcetree (e.g., the head revision).
  • Back up the entire repository.
  • Transfer a branch to secure machines that have no network connections.

How to Use Git Bundle and Git Archive

Here are the best ways to use the Git archive and Git bundle commands.

Use Git Archive for Files

The Git archive command archives all the contents of the current HEAD into a file named Because the prefix option is given, it does this under a folder named “2014-10-21” in the archive. The available list of formats can be retrieved with the git archive --list command. 

For example:

git archive --prefix=2014-10-21/ --format=zip HEAD >

But the Git archive command includes only the files, not the history of those files. You can also use git archive branch to see the history of your branch/tree.

Use Git Bundle for Files and Their History

If you want to package files and their history, you want the Git bundle command instead. Consider the following example:

git bundle create HeadBundle.git HEAD

That command will create a single file named HeadBundle.git that contains not only the entire file contents of the current HEAD, but it also includes all the history and versioning metadata as well. As such, a bundle serves as a complete copy of the specified data.

Use Git Bundle to Clone a New Repository

You can use Git bundle clone a new repository:

git clone HeadBundle.git ~/test

That command will create a clone of the contents of the bundle in a new test folder. Other options let you verify the contents of a bundle and list the contents.

By establishing a clear convention for tagging, the bundle command even makes it possible to transfer incremental changes regularly at a given time interval. 

What's the Best Way to Manage Your Files?

Using Git commands like Git bundle and Git archive help you manage your files and repository. While these commands add efficiency, they aren't the best way to manage your files.

Perforce Helix Core gives you a better way to manage everything — code, binary files, digital assets, and more –– all in one. Plus, Helix Core works with Git. Developers can continue using Git, and the code can be replicated back to a single server. Having a single source of truth ensures that your Git data is always protected without needing to bundle or archive anything.

See for yourself why using Perforce is the best way to manage all your files.

Get Helix Core More on Helix4Git


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