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Recovering Lost Commits or Branches in Git

As developers, we have all been there - accidentally deleting a branch or losing commits due to a mistaken command or merge conflict. Fortunately, Git provides several methods to recover these lost commits or branches. In this article, we will explore some common scenarios and the steps to restore your work in Git.

Recovering Lost Commits

Method 1: Reflog

The Git reflog (reference logs) is a powerful tool that keeps track of all branch updates and changes, even if the branches are deleted. To recover lost commits using reflog, follow these steps:

  1. Open your terminal or command prompt and navigate to your repository directory.
  2. Type git reflog to see a list of all the changes made to your branches, including the lost commits.
  3. Locate the commit ID or reference for the lost commit that you want to recover.
  4. Use the command git cherry-pick <commit-id> to apply the changes of the lost commit to a new branch or the current branch.

Method 2: Data Recovery Tools

If you accidentally delete a branch without committing your changes, data recovery tools can help you retrieve the lost commits. However, this method has a lower success rate and is typically used as a last resort. Here are the general steps:

  1. Stop all Git operations immediately to avoid further complications or overwriting the lost commits.
  2. Use a data recovery tool (e.g., Git Data Recovery, PhotoRec) to scan the disk or repository for any recoverable data.
  3. Once the lost commits are detected, create a new branch or apply the changes to your current branch using the cherry-pick command.

Recovering Deleted Branches

Losing a branch can be a nightmare, especially if it contains valuable code. Git provides a simple way to recover deleted branches using the git reflog command. Follow these steps to recover a deleted branch:

  1. Open your terminal or command prompt and navigate to your repository directory.
  2. Type git reflog to see a list of all branch changes and updates, including the deleted branch.
  3. Locate the commit ID or reference where the branch was deleted.
  4. Use the command git checkout -b <branch-name> <commit-id> to recreate the lost branch at the specific commit where it was deleted.


Accidents happen, but Git offers various methods to recover lost commits or branches. By utilizing the reflog and understanding its power, you can often retrieve mistakenly deleted branches or lost commits. Remember to use caution when performing Git operations, and make regular backups to minimize the risk of data loss. With these techniques in your arsenal, you can confidently navigate through Git-related mishaps and keep your work safe.

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