Ultimate Guide to Recovering Files From Your Local Git Repository

This article serves as an exhaustive manual for individuals seeking to recover files from a local repository in Git. It walks readers through multiple strategies and tools, ensuring that developers and programmers can reclaim their vanished data with ease.


By Lori / Updated on February 5, 2024

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Imagine you've just realized that a crucial piece of your project has vanished from your local Git repository. Your heart skips a beat. Panic sets in. Sounds familiar? Well, the good news is that in the digital realm, especially within Git, very few things are ever truly gone.

This guide will arm you with the knowledge and tools to recover files from a local repository in Git, turning what might seem like a catastrophe into a mere hiccup. So, let's not waste any more time and dive into the recovery process.

Understanding Git Repositories

To navigate the recovery process effectively, it's essential to grasp how Git repositories function. Git, at its core, is designed to track changes and preserve history. This foundational principle is what often makes recovery possible. Each action you perform in Git is recorded, providing a breadcrumb trail we can follow to retrieve lost data.

Recover Files From Local Repository Git

Method 1: Using git reflog and git checkout

The git reflog command is akin to Git's diary, logging every move your HEAD pointer has made. This can be incredibly useful for recovery.

Step Points:

  1. Access Terminal: Launch your command line or terminal and navigate to your project's directory.
  2. Use git reflog: Execute git reflog to display your repository's recent history. Look for the entry just before the loss occurred.
  3. Identify and Checkout: Note the reference of the desired state (e.g., HEAD@{2}). Use git checkout to revert your working directory to this state.

Method 2: The git fsck Command

git fsck (file system check) scans for "dangling" objects—data that's no longer linked from the repository's tree structure but still resides in the database.

Step Points:

Run git fsck: In your terminal, execute git fsck --lost-found. Git will check for lost objects.

Inspect the Lost and Found: Navigate to .git/lost-found/commit or .git/lost-found/other to explore recoverable items.

Recover Files: Manually copy the files you wish to recover from the lost and found directory to your working directory.

Method 3: Reverting with git revert

If your files were lost due to a commit that either deleted or altered them undesirably, git revert is a non-destructive way to undo those changes.

Step Points:

Find the Commit: Use git log to scroll through your commit history and locate the commit you wish to revert.

Revert the Commit: Execute git revert . This creates a new commit that undoes the changes made by the specified commit.

MyRecover: A Third-Party Tool for Git Data Retrieval

For those who find the manual methods daunting or are dealing with complex recovery scenarios, MyRecover offers a streamlined, user-friendly alternative.


Intuitive interface

Broad file type support

Deep scanning capabilities

Recovery Steps:

Download and Install MyRecover: Visit the official MyRecover website, download the latest version, and install it on your computer.

Select Your Repository: Launch MyRecover, navigate to the location of your local repository, and select it as the target for the scan.

Specify File Types: If you're looking for specific file types, configure MyRecover to focus on these during its scan.

Scan and Recover: Initiate the scan. Once complete, MyRecover will display a list of recoverable files. Select the files you wish to recover and follow the prompts to restore them to your repository.


Whether you've accidentally deleted a file, lost data to a buggy commit, or are facing any number of Git mishaps, remember: all is not lost. The very design of Git, coupled with tools like MyRecover, provides a safety net for recovering lost data.

By understanding and utilizing the methods outlined in this guide, you can confidently navigate the process of recovering files from your local Git repository. Keep this guide handy, and may your coding journey be smooth and loss-free!


Q: Can these methods recover files lost several commits ago

A: Absolutely! Git's history and reflog are extensive, allowing you to revert to or recover states from much earlier in your project's timeline.

Q: What if I accidentally delete my entire local repository?

A: If you've pushed your changes to a remote repository before the deletion, you can simply clone it again. If not, tools like MyRecover may still be able to help, depending on whether the data remains on your disk.

Q: How long does the recovery process take?

A: It largely depends on the method used and the size of your repository. Manual Git commands can be quicker but require precise knowledge, while tools like MyRecover might take longer but offer a more thorough recovery.

Q: Is it possible to recover files without any command-line knowledge?

A: Yes, third-party tools like MyRecover are designed with a user-friendly interface that doesn't require command-line expertise.

Q: Can these recovery methods be used on any version control system?

A: The methods described specifically leverage the functionality and architecture of Git. Other version control systems may have their own recovery solutions.

Lori · Editor
Lori receives professional technical training since joining AOMEI, and aims at helping users troubleshoot problems on data recovery and protection. She focuses on simple, efficient and practical methods, and provides professional advice. Being able to help readers and users is her ultimate goal.