GIT-PACK-REFS(1)                   Git Manual                   GIT-PACK-REFS(1)

       git-pack-refs - Pack heads and tags for efficient repository access

       git pack-refs [--all] [--no-prune]

       Traditionally, tips of branches and tags (collectively known as refs)
       were stored one file per ref in a (sub)directory under $GIT_DIR/refs
       directory. While many branch tips tend to be updated often, most tags and
       some branch tips are never updated. When a repository has hundreds or
       thousands of tags, this one-file-per-ref format both wastes storage and
       hurts performance.

       This command is used to solve the storage and performance problem by
       storing the refs in a single file, $GIT_DIR/packed-refs. When a ref is
       missing from the traditional $GIT_DIR/refs directory hierarchy, it is
       looked up in this file and used if found.

       Subsequent updates to branches always create new files under
       $GIT_DIR/refs directory hierarchy.

       A recommended practice to deal with a repository with too many refs is to
       pack its refs with --all once, and occasionally run git pack-refs. Tags
       are by definition stationary and are not expected to change. Branch heads
       will be packed with the initial pack-refs --all, but only the currently
       active branch heads will become unpacked, and the next pack-refs (without
       --all) will leave them unpacked.

           The command by default packs all tags and refs that are already
           packed, and leaves other refs alone. This is because branches are
           expected to be actively developed and packing their tips does not
           help performance. This option causes branch tips to be packed as
           well. Useful for a repository with many branches of historical

           The command usually removes loose refs under $GIT_DIR/refs hierarchy
           after packing them. This option tells it not to.

       Older documentation written before the packed-refs mechanism was
       introduced may still say things like ".git/refs/heads/<branch> file
       exists" when it means "branch <branch> exists".

       Part of the git(1) suite

Git 2.32.0                         06/06/2021                   GIT-PACK-REFS(1)