Git Export: Easy Steps to Export GitHub Data


Nowadays, software developers like to collaborate on a project to facilitate faster delivery of high-quality products. When working on such projects, it becomes very important to track the versions of the product under development. The collaborators should also track the reviews, releases, pull requests, comments, milestones, and attachments, as well as manage project issues. 

Doing it manually may be a challenge, especially when the product under development is large and involves a lot of contributors. So, an easier way of doing this is required. 

GitHub is the right tool for this. It will make it easier for you and your team to manage your project. When using GitHub, you will be dealing with a lot of data. You need to export this data and keep a backup of the same. You can also export the data for further analysis using data analysis software. 

In this article, I will be showing you how to use Git export. All you need is a GitHub account.

Table of Contents

What is GitHub

GitHub is a code version control and project management system as well as a social network platform designed and built for developers. With GitHub, you can work collaboratively with other people from all over the world, plan for projects and track your efforts. It is one of the largest storehouses for collaborative work in the world. GitHub makes it easy for developers to track the changes that have been made to their code. 

To understand GitHub well, you must understand the following 3 concepts:

  • Git
  • Version Control System
  • Hub

Git is the heart of GitHub. It is a version control system that was developed by Linux Torvalds, the man who developed Linux. It is a distributed version control system, meaning that the whole codebase and history are available on every developer’s computer. This facilitates easy merging and branching. 

Once developers create a new project, they keep on making updates to the code. Even after the project has gone live, the developers still need to fix bugs, update versions, add new features, etc. The purpose of the version control system is to help developers to track the changes made to the code base. It records the person who made the changes, and it can be used to erase the changes when there is a need to restore the code to its previous version. 

Two concepts are used in version control:

  • Branching
  • Merging

With branching, a developer creates a duplicate of part of the source code. The developer then safely makes changes to that part of the code without affecting the rest of the code. Once the developer is sure that that part of the code is working correctly, he merges it back to the main source code, making it official. Such changes can always be traced back to the developer, and they can as well be reverted if necessary. 

The purpose of the Hub in GitHub is to turn Git, which is a command-line, into the largest social network for developers. Other than contributing to projects, GitHub makes it possible for users to socialize with like-minded people. A user can follow other users and know what they are doing and who they are following. 

The directory in which your project files are stored is known as the repository. This can be on GitHub’s repository or even on a local repository on your computer. You can use the repository to store your images, code files, audio, video, or anything else to do with your project.

A branch is simply a copy of your repository. The branch becomes useful when you need to do development in isolation. If you work on a branch, the central repository or other branches will not be affected. After doing your work, you can merge your branch into the other branches and the central repository using a pull request.

A pull request is simply a way of telling others that you’ve pushed the changes that you made in a branch to the main repository. The collaborators on the repository may accept or reject the pull request.

Forking a repository is the process of creating a new repository based on an already existing repository. This means that you copy an already existing repository, make some changes to it, store the new version as a new repository, then you call it your own project.

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To use GitHub, you need a GitHub account. If you don’t have a GitHub account, you can create one for free. 

Just open the following URL on your web browser:

If you already have an account, click the “Sign in” button located on the top right corner of the screen and sign into your account. 

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If you don’t have an account, click the “Sign up” button and sign up for a GitHub account. 

When you log into your GitHub account, you will be taken to the homepage of your GitHub account which looks as shown below:

GitHub home screen
Image Source: GitHub

The left side of the screen shows all the repositories that you’ve created. 

Github repositories
Image Source: GitHub

If you need to create a new repository, just click the “New” button. 

Github create new repository
Image Source: GitHub

If you are collaborating with other people on a project, you should create an organization. 

Just click the “Create an organization” button located on the left side of the window. 

Github create organization
Image Source: GitHub

You will then be prompted to choose a plan that you need to use together with your team. 

GitHub offers its users three plans namely:

  • Free
  • Team
  • Enterprise

You can use the Free plan for free, but each team member will pay a monthly subscription fee if you choose any of the other two plans. 

Github payment plans
Image Source: GitHub

After choosing a plan, you will be taken through the process of setting up your team. 

You can access all pull requests from the “Pull requests” tab. 

Github pull requests
Image Source: GitHub

All the issues that have been raised about your projects will be shown on the “Issues” tab. 

Github issues
Image Source: GitHub

The “Workflow” helps you search for tools that you can use to improve your workflow on GitHub. 

Github workflow
Image Source: GitHub

It has both free and paid apps that you can use to make your GitHub tasks easy. 

Githubb apps
Image Source: GitHub

It’s up to you to search for the app that you need, set it up and begin to use it on your GitHub projects. 

The “Explore” tab is where you can get GitHub repositories that match your topics of interest.

Github explore
Image Source: GitHub

Working of Github

To export your GitHub account data, follow the steps given below:

Step 1: Log into your GitHub account. 

Step 2: Click the dropdown button located on the right side of your profile picture in the upper right corner of the screen. Choose “Settings”. 

Github account settings
Image Source: GitHub

Step 3: You will be taken to your profile page. Click “Account” from the vertical navigation bar shown on the left. 

Github account
Image Source: GitHub

Step 4: You will see the “Start export” button that can help you to export your account data. Just click the button. 

Github start export
Image Source: GitHub

You will then be notified that your export is being prepared and that they will email you when it’s ready. 

The export data normally includes all your repositories and profile metadata such as issues, comments, reviews, pull requests, releases, projects, attachments, milestones, events, and settings for each repository and the basic information for each user who has interacted with the repositories. 

Note that the export data will be in a machine-readable format (JSON or Git), allowing you to backup your data offline. 

The Git Export will be ready in less than 7 days. Now, you can wait for an email notifying you that the Git Export is ready. The email will come with a link that you can use to download the archive. 

Understanding a Git Export Example

This section explains a simple Git Export command. You need to move into the Git project directory, then use this command to create a new file called “latest.tgz”.

git archive master | gzip > latest.tgz

You can run the same command using bzip2 with the following snippet:

git archive master | bzip2 > latest.tar.bz2

Understanding Git Export Help

To understand more about this command, try this code snippet:

git help archive

This Git Export command provides useful information like:

Format of the resulting archive: tar or zip.

If this option is not given, and the output file is specified, the format is inferred from the filename if possible (e.g. writing to "" makes the output to be in the zip format). Otherwise the output format is tar.

For more complicated Git archive examples, you can refer to the following Git help output:

git archive --format=tar --prefix=junk/ HEAD | (cd /var/tmp/ && tar xf -) Create a tar archive that contains the contents of the latest commit on the current branch, and extract it in the /var/tmp/junk directory. 

git archive --format=tar --prefix=git-1.4.0/ v1.4.0 | gzip >git-1.4.0.tar.gz Create a compressed tarball for v1.4.0 release. 

git archive --format=tar --prefix=git-1.4.0/ v1.4.0^{tree} | gzip >git-1.4.0.tar.gz Create a compressed tarball for v1.4.0 release, but without a global extended pax header. 

git archive --format=zip --prefix=git-docs/ HEAD:Documentation/ > Put everything in the current head's Documentation/ directory into, with the prefix git-docs/. 

git archive -o HEAD Create a Zip archive that contains the contents of the latest commit on the current branch. Note that the output format is inferred by the extension of the output file.

Key Git Export Notes

Before proceeding with the Git Export example, you need to keep in mind the role of the .gitignore file in the export process. If some files are missing from your project directory, it could be because the .gitignore file for them has been set to ‘ignored’.

Limitations While Using Github

Here are the challenges that users face when using Git Export:

  1. GitHub doesn’t provide you with a way to choose the specific data that you need to export. To get this functionality, you may be required to use additional APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). 
  2. It may take up to 7 days for the Git Export data to be ready, especially when the data is huge. 
  3. Using Git Export to export GitHub data is a one-time data dump, you can’t keep streaming all the changes that happen to the repository. 

Git Export Summary

This article discusses the Git Export in detail covering its working, a useful example, additional help, notes, and limitations of it.


In this article, you’ve learned how to use GitHub and also how to use Git Export to export your GitHub account data. However, the manual method has certain drawbacks.

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Hevo Data provides its users with a simpler platform for integrating data for analysis. It efficiently transfers your GitHub data into other data destinations for free. It is a no-code data pipeline that can help you combine data from multiple sources.

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Nicholas Samuel
Technical Content Writer, Hevo Data

Skilled in freelance writing within the data industry, Nicholas is passionate about unraveling the complexities of data integration and data analysis through informative content for those delving deeper into these subjects. He has written more than 150+ blogs on databases, processes, and tutorials that help data practitioners solve their day-to-day problems.

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