Is it ok to just use git only locally? I don't want to have to pay for a service that provides private repositories (such as Github) but I think git is a great way to organize my closed-source project.

  • 3
    Yea... why wouldn't it be? Linus even has a local only copy of git on one machine.
    – user40980
    Jan 15, 2014 at 1:34
  • (the [citation needed] for that local only copy can be read at mikegerwitz.com/papers/git-horror-story.html which links to the you tube video youtube.com/watch?v=4XpnKHJAok8 which is 1h long and I haven't found the specific spot where he mentions it)
    – user40980
    Jan 15, 2014 at 1:50
  • 8
    BitBucket offers free private repositories.
    – Rig
    Jan 15, 2014 at 2:00
  • 4
    Adding the tags, I found the git + solo-development gives As a sole developer (for now), how should I be using Git? as something similar that might be what you're looking for (or will be looking for)
    – user40980
    Jan 15, 2014 at 2:36
  • 1
    Also a crude form of backups: In addition to other ways, I git clone from my laptop to a flash drive.
    – Izkata
    Jan 15, 2014 at 3:46

5 Answers 5


While it's entirely reasonable and possible to use git locally, it's better to have backup.

You can arbitrarily push repos to basically anywhere. Github just happens to be easy hosting and collaboration. There are other options such as using Google Drive or Dropbox if you want remote storage.

  • 13
    Bitbucket.org and Codebreak.com both have free private repositories
    – Kevin
    Jan 15, 2014 at 1:48
  • 4
    Also note that VC is not a backup (though it's better than nothing). Always create regular backup as well.
    – sleske
    Jan 15, 2014 at 10:03
  • @sleske Why wouldn't Git with a central repository be a viable backup solution? Aug 30, 2019 at 23:29
  • @Hashim: This may be a misunderstanding. Of course a central git repository is a good backup solution for your repository. It's just not a general backup ("backup" as in "backup of all the files on your system"). I just wanted to remind everyone that a complete backup is usually necessary, too.
    – sleske
    Aug 31, 2019 at 9:58

Yes, it is entirely reasonable to use git only locally. You may want to push to a local network drive or removable backup for redundancy reasons, but git itself works perfectly well without connecting to someone else's sever.


Another great argument for using git locally (i.e. only one copy in the universe) is git bisect, which can be used to find many a nefarious bug and has saved me many times. It allows one to narrow down exactly which commit an annoying bug was added (and thus lets you focus on a much smaller segment of problem code).

Read more about git bisect

  • thank you a lot about this (why didn't I know about this before trashing 1,000 lines of code...), but this is more of a suggestion than an answer. +1 anyways Jan 16, 2014 at 23:52

The only "drawback" of using Git locally(compared to not using any SCM at all) is the extra work of committing, branching and tagging - and that extra work is not only neglected in the grand scheme but also contributes directly to organizing your code and documenting your progress.

Also keep in mind that Git is a distributed SCM. While the common case is to use it with a central repository, it was designed to be usable without one. You can create patches(or even better - bundles - which are a pack of patches[a single patch can only contain a single commit]) and send them by mail to your colleagues or save them as backups. This is less comfortable than using a central repository(that's why people usually prefer to use one), but it allows you to use Git for collaboration without paying for a private repo or hosting one on your own server.


Think about what you need and what you're going to use it for - your requirements.
If it's code for a spike for a couple of hours, just write it may be ok.

If you get to the point where you start to (or feel the need to) make backups to 'save working versions', then a version control system can help.

Also, if you get code to a working point and want to do your own spike, it can be handy to do a branch which you can then merge back in, as shown below where I am the sole contributor and this repo has never been pushed anywhere ('uncouple methods' was a branch I did for a spike): enter image description here

Of course if you are also maintaining software that has several versions and/or releases, a version control system is very helpful, especially with the ability to merge changes.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.