What is the difference between ‘git pull’ and ‘git fetch’?

Out of many different Git commands ‘Git Pull‘ and ‘Git Fetch‘ allow users to update their local repository with changes made in a remote repository. Although they are relative, however, work differently.

git fetch is a command that when run will allow users to download the latest changes from the remote repository and stores them in a separate branch in our local repository called “origin/branch-name“. However, the changes fetched from the remote repository will not be merged with the local branch. To merge the changes into your local branch, we need to run the git merge command.

git pull, on the other hand, is a combination of git fetch and git merge. When we run ‘git pull‘ it also downloads the latest changes made to the remote repository just like ‘git fetch‘ but it automatically merges them with our local branch.

Here are a few more differences between git fetch and git pull:

  1. On one side git pull command modifies your local branch by merging the changes from the remote repository, git fetch doesn’t do that and is relatively a safe operation that does not modify our local branch. Instead of automatically merging, it only updates the remote-tracking branches in our local repository.
  2. git fetch can be used to update multiple remote branches at once. For example, you can run git fetch origin to update all remote-tracking branches for the “origin” remote. Whereas, ‘git pull‘ only updates the current branch by default.
  3. If you want to preview the changes made in the remote repository before merging the with the local branch then git fetch is a useful command. You can review the changes using tools like git diff or a visual Git client However, it is not the case with ‘git pull’ because it will merge all the changes automatically, which can sometimes lead to conflicts that need to be resolved.
  4. When it comes to performance ‘git fetch‘ command process is faster as compared to ‘git pull‘ because it only needs to download the changes and does not perform a merge. However, this also depends on your network speed and the size of the changes as well.

So, it is a good practice to use git fetch as it allows updating the local repository with changes from a remote repository but without modifying your local branch. However, git pull is a convenient GIT command for those who want immediate and automatic merging of changes from the remote repository but may cause some conflicts sometimes that later need to be resolved.

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