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How to replace a git branch with a new codebase

September 14, 2018

If you’re in a situation where you need to completely replace an entire branch’s codebase (as well as commits, history, etc.) on GitHub, this is how you can go about doing it.

I needed to do this when replacing my github.io branch to launch this blog…not sure if there are many other use cases…? Anyways, here are the steps:

  1. Backup the old branch on a new branch called “archive” and push to the remote for safe keeping

    cd old/codebase/path
    git checkout branch-being-replaced
    git checkout -b archive && git push origin -u archive
  2. Go into the new project/codebase and set up git (if not done already)

    cd new/codebase/path
    git init
  3. Set the origin of the new codebase to point to the repo containing the branch being replaced

    git remote add origin https://github.com/your-git-username/your-git-repo
    (OR w/ SSH) git remote add origin [email protected]:your-git-username/your-git-repo
  4. Force push the new codebase to the branch being replaced (NOT the “archive” branch)

    git push --force origin branch-being-replaced

That’s it! Now the new site will have replaced the old, while the old still exists on the “archive” branch.


Bryce Dooley

A blog by Bryce Dooley — a Software Engineer, Dad, Husband, and Productivity Nerd — based out of Boston, MA.