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Q&A

Is it possible to undo a git reset?

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For some reason, I just wanted to undo a commit on my git repository, which I've done with the following command:

git reset --soft HEAD~1

So far, so good. However, by mistake I issued the command a second time, thus deleting also an earlier commit. It also turned out that I had forgotten to push that change.

Now I do have a backup of the previous state, but that's on an external disk that's at a different place than me currently.

Now the change itself was pretty trivial (and of course is still contained in the collective changes in the working directory; indeed I could just re-apply it by checking in one file), but of course all the metadata is gone (in particular, the change date).

Now I'd like to not wait until I have access to the hard disk with the backup again, but I'd also like not to lose that metadata in the repo.

Does git have the possibility to restore the deleted update somehow? The mistaken reset currently is the last thing done on the repo.

If not, is it possible to just commit new stuff (that includes that change), and then later re-insert that version in the version history from the backup, so that afterwards it looks as if the commit had never been deleted?

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2 answers

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If you've committed, then the commit is in the git repo regardless. All git reset does is change what commit the HEAD references. If you find the hash corresponding to the commit you'd like HEAD to reference, you could just git reset --soft <commit hash>.

git log --reflog should list all the commits to HEAD including the ones that were reset. I believe this is reading the relevant file in .git/logs/refs/heads which you can also look at and may be a bit clearer.

Creating a repository, making two commits, and doing a git reset --soft HEAD^ once leads to the following output:

$ git log
commit 4a96a4d58f0755652e8fe007798f9d72b0541cc8 (HEAD -> master)
Author: Derek Elkins
Date:   Fri Jun 3 14:22:32 2022 -0700

    1
$ git log --reflog
commit e9a9e5b57da67b88bb55a02728e90b0cd91ff158
Author: Derek Elkins
Date:   Fri Jun 3 14:22:47 2022 -0700

    2

commit 4a96a4d58f0755652e8fe007798f9d72b0541cc8 (HEAD -> master)
Author: Derek Elkins
Date:   Fri Jun 3 14:22:32 2022 -0700

    1
$ cat .git/logs/refs/heads/master
0000000000000000000000000000000000000000 4a96a4d58f0755652e8fe007798f9d72b0541cc8 Derek Elkins 1654291352 -0700	commit (initial): 1
4a96a4d58f0755652e8fe007798f9d72b0541cc8 e9a9e5b57da67b88bb55a02728e90b0cd91ff158 Derek Elkins 1654291367 -0700	commit: 2
e9a9e5b57da67b88bb55a02728e90b0cd91ff158 4a96a4d58f0755652e8fe007798f9d72b0541cc8 Derek Elkins 1654291373 -0700	reset: moving to HEAD^
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Thank you for the very helpful and informative explanation. (1 comment)
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From the Git docs

"reset" copies the old head to .git/ORIG_HEAD

To restore that commit, you can run

$ git reset ORIG_HEAD

If you want to restore more than one reset, then you'll have to look for the commit id. If you already know it, you can just do

$ git reset <commit>

If you don't, then you can use git reflog to try to find that earlier commit. (kudos here)


For anyone who wants to take the opportunity to change something before reapplying the commit, the Git documentation has a section specifically titled Undo a commit and redo. You can run

$ git commit -a -c ORIG_HEAD

Note that this only works to restore one commit

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1 comment thread

Than you, that was very helpful. (1 comment)

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