Should I keep my GitHub forked repositories around forever?

Deleting forked repositories will erase history from your Pull Requests.

PR with unknown repository

Deleting a forked repository will delete any information associated with your repository. This can retroactively affect any references to your repository, including pull requests that have already been merged. (See Pull request displays "unknown repo" after deletion of fork)

Your comments and commits should be preserved on any pull requests that were associated with your repository, but you will do so at your own risk.

However, deleting old branches after a merge is perfectly safe.

While deleting repositories should be avoided, deleting unused branches is perfectly acceptable. In fact, GitHub encourages you to delete old branches.

Tidying up after Pull RequestsAt GitHub, we love to use Pull Requests all day, every day. The only trouble is that we end up with a lot of defunct branches after Pull Requests have been merged or closed. From time to time, one of us would clear out these branches with a script, but we thought it would be better to take care of this step as part of our regular workflow on GitHub.com.

Starting today, after a Pull Request has been merged, you’ll see a button to delete the lingering branch:

Delete this branch button



If the Pull Request was closed without being merged, the button will look a little different to warn you about deleting unmerged commits:

Delete branch with warning



Of course, you can only delete branches in repositories that you have push access to.

Enjoy your tidy repositories!

Alternatively, if you really don't want to keep them around, you can archive a repository to indicate it is no longer actively maintained.

See also

Subscribe to Farath Shba

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.
jamie@example.com
Subscribe