Git reflog: Managing and Recovering Lost Commits

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you accidentally deleted or lost a commit in Git? It can be a frustrating experience, especially if you spent hours working on that code. But fear not, Git reflog is here to save the day!

What is Git reflog?

Git reflog is short for "reference log". It is a powerful and often underutilized command in Git that keeps a record of every reference change you make in your repository, including branches being created, deleted, or moved, and commits being added or removed.

Why is Git reflog useful?

The Git reflog can be a lifesaver in scenarios where you've lost track of commits, branches, or any other references. It serves as a safety net, allowing you to easily recover lost commits or undo changes that may have been mistakenly made.

How does Git reflog work?

Git reflog works by keeping a chronological log of all reference changes in your repository. This log is stored locally and is not pushed to remote servers when you execute a git push command. It behaves like a local history of your repository.

Each log entry in the reflog contains the commit's hash, the action performed, and the reference (branch or tag) affected by the action. By default, the reflog keeps records for at least 90 days, but this can be customized using Git settings.

Recovering lost commits with Git reflog

Now, let's go through the process of recovering a lost commit using Git reflog.

  1. Start by opening your terminal and navigating to the repository where the lost commit was located.
  2. Run the command git reflog to display the reflog with a list of reference changes.
  3. Identify the commit you want to recover based on its associated action or reference. The commit hash will be displayed in the first column of each entry.
  4. Once you have identified the commit you want to recover, copy its commit hash.
  5. Run the command git checkout <commit hash> to switch to that specific commit.
  6. Now, you should have successfully recovered the lost commit and can continue working on it or create a new branch based on it.

Other useful Git reflog commands

While recovering lost commits is the primary use case for Git reflog, it offers a few other useful commands:

  • git reflog show : Displays the reflog with abbreviated commit hashes and the actions performed.
  • git reflog expire : Allows you to specify a time limit to remove old entries from the reflog.
  • git reflog delete : Lets you manually delete unwanted entries from the reflog.


Git reflog is a powerful tool that can save you from a lot of headaches when you accidentally lose or delete commits in Git. By understanding how to use Git reflog effectively, you can confidently navigate your repository's history and recover lost changes with ease. Remember to use it wisely and carefully, as incorrect usage may result in unintended consequences. Happy coding!

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