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GitLab supports and automates housekeeping tasks in Git repositories to ensure that they can be served as efficiently as possible. Housekeeping tasks include:

  • Compressing Git objects and revisions.
  • Removing unreachable objects.
  • Removing stale data like lock files.
  • Maintaining data structures that improve performance.
  • Updating object pools to improve object deduplication across forks.

WARNING: Do not manually execute Git commands to perform housekeeping in Git repositories that are controlled by GitLab. Doing so may lead to corrupt repositories and data loss.

Housekeeping strategy

Gitaly can perform housekeeping tasks in a Git repository in two ways:

  • Eager housekeeping executes specific housekeeping tasks independent of the state a repository is in.
  • Heuristical housekeeping executes housekeeping tasks based on a set of heuristics that determine what housekeeping tasks need to be executed based on the repository state.

Eager housekeeping

The "eager" housekeeping strategy executes housekeeping tasks in a repository independent of the repository state. This is the default strategy as used by the manual trigger and the push-based trigger.

The eager housekeeping strategy is controlled by the GitLab application. Depending on the trigger that caused the housekeeping job to run, GitLab asks Gitaly to perform specific housekeeping tasks. Gitaly performs these tasks even if the repository is in an optimized state. As a result, this strategy can be inefficient in large repositories where performing the housekeeping tasks may be slow.

Heuristical housekeeping

The heuristical (or "opportunistic") housekeeping strategy analyzes the repository's state and executes housekeeping tasks only when it finds one or more data structures are insufficiently optimized. This is the strategy used by scheduled housekeeping.

Heuristical housekeeping uses the following information to decide on the tasks it needs to run:

  • The number of loose and stale objects.
  • The number of packfiles that contain already-compressed objects.
  • The number of loose references.
  • The presence of a commit-graph.

The decision whether any of the analyzed data structures need to be optimized is based on the size of the repository:

  • Objects are repacked frequently the bigger the total size of all objects.
  • References are repacked less frequently the more references there are in total.

Gitaly does this to offset the fact that optimizing those data structures takes more time the bigger they get. It is especially important in large monorepos (which receive a lot of traffic) to avoid optimizing them too frequently.

You can change how often Gitaly is asked to optimize a repository.

  1. On the left sidebar, at the bottom, select Admin Area.
  2. Select Settings > Repository.
  3. Expand Repository maintenance.
  4. In the Housekeeping section, configure the housekeeping options.
  5. Select Save changes.
  • Enable automatic repository housekeeping: Regularly ask Gitaly to run repository optimization. If you keep this setting disabled for a long time, Git repository access on your GitLab server becomes slower and your repositories use more disk space.
  • Optimize repository period: Number of Git pushes after which Gitaly is asked to optimize a repository.

Running housekeeping tasks

There are different ways in which GitLab runs housekeeping tasks:

  • A project's administrator can manually trigger repository housekeeping tasks.
  • GitLab can automatically schedule housekeeping tasks after a number of Git pushes.
  • GitLab can schedule a job that runs housekeeping tasks for all repositories in a configurable time frame.

Manual trigger

Administrators of repositories can manually trigger housekeeping tasks in a repository. In general this is not required as GitLab knows to automatically run housekeeping tasks. The manual trigger can be useful when either:

  • A repository is known to require housekeeping.
  • Automated push-based scheduling of housekeeping tasks has been disabled.

To trigger housekeeping tasks manually:

  1. On the left sidebar, select Search or go to and find your project.
  2. Select Settings > General.
  3. Expand Advanced.
  4. Select Run housekeeping.

This starts an asynchronous background worker for the project's repository. The background worker asks Gitaly to perform a number of optimizations.

Housekeeping also removes unreferenced LFS files from your project every 200 push, freeing up storage space for your project.

Prune unreachable objects

Unreachable objects are pruned as part of scheduled housekeeping. However, you can trigger manual pruning as well. An example: removing commits that contain sensitive information. Triggering housekeeping prunes unreachable objects with a grace period of two weeks. When you manually trigger the pruning of unreachable objects, the grace period is reduced to 30 minutes.

WARNING: If a concurrent process (like git push) has created an object but hasn't created a reference to the object yet, your repository can become corrupted if a reference to the object is added after the object is deleted. The grace period exists to reduce the likelihood of such race conditions.

To trigger a manual prune of unreachable objects:

  1. On the left sidebar, select Search or go to and find your project.
  2. Select Settings > General.
  3. Expand Advanced.
  4. Select Run housekeeping.
  5. Wait 30 minutes for the operation to complete.
  6. Return to the page where you selected Run housekeeping, and select Prune unreachable objects.

Scheduled housekeeping

While GitLab automatically performs housekeeping tasks based on the number of pushes, it does not maintain repositories that don't receive any pushes at all. As a result, inactive repositories or repositories that are only getting read requests may not benefit from improvements in the repository housekeeping strategy.

Administrators can enable a background job that performs housekeeping in all repositories at a customizable interval to remedy this situation. This background job processes all repositories hosted by a Gitaly node in a random order and eagerly performs housekeeping tasks on them. The Gitaly node stops processing repositories if it takes longer than the configured interval.

Configure scheduled housekeeping

Background maintenance of Git repositories is configured in Gitaly. By default, Gitaly performs background repository maintenance every day at 12:00 noon for a duration of 10 minutes.

You can change this default in Gitaly configuration.

For environments with Gitaly Cluster, the scheduled housekeeping start time can be staggered across Gitaly nodes so the scheduled housekeeping is not running simultaneously on multiple nodes.

If a scheduled housekeeping run reaches the duration specified, the running tasks are gracefully cancelled. On subsequent scheduled housekeeping runs, Gitaly randomly shuffles the repository list to process.

The following snippet enables daily background repository maintenance starting at 23:00 for 1 hour for the default storage:


:::TabTitle Self-compiled (source)

start_hour = 23
start_minute = 00
duration = 1h
storages = ["default"]

Use the following snippet to completely disable background repository maintenance:

disabled = true

:::TabTitle Linux package (Omnibus)

gitaly['configuration'] = {
  daily_maintenance: {
    disabled: false,
    start_hour: 23,
    start_minute: 00,
    duration: '1h',
    storages: ['default'],

Use the following snippet to completely disable background repository maintenance:

gitaly['configuration'] = {
  daily_maintenance: {
    disabled: true,


When the scheduled housekeeping is executed, you can see the following entries in your Gitaly log:

# When the scheduled housekeeping starts
{"level":"info","msg":"maintenance: daily scheduled","pid":197260,"scheduled":"2023-09-27T13:10:00+13:00","time":"2023-09-27T00:08:31.624Z"}

# When the scheduled housekeeping completes
{"actual_duration":321181874818,"error":null,"level":"info","max_duration":"1h0m0s","msg":"maintenance: daily completed","pid":197260,"time":"2023-09-27T00:15:21.182Z"}

The actual_duration (in nanoseconds) indicates how long the scheduled maintenance took to execute. In the example above, the scheduled housekeeping completed in just over 5 minutes.

Object pool repositories

Object pool repositories are used by GitLab to deduplicate objects across forks of a repository. When creating the first fork, we:

  1. Create an object pool repository that contains all objects of the repository that is about to be forked.
  2. Link the repository to this new object pool via the alternates mechanism of Git.
  3. Repack the repository so that it uses objects from the object pool. It thus can drop its own copy of the objects.

Any forks of this repository can now link against the object pool and thus only have to keep objects that diverge from the primary repository.

GitLab needs to perform special housekeeping operations in object pools:

  • Gitaly cannot ever delete unreachable objects from object pools because they might be used by any of the forks that are connected to it.
  • Gitaly must keep all objects reachable due to the same reason. Object pools thus maintain references to unreachable "dangling" objects so that they don't ever get deleted.
  • GitLab must update object pools regularly to pull in new objects that have been added in the primary repository. Otherwise, an object pool becomes increasingly inefficient at deduplicating objects.

These housekeeping operations are performed by the specialized FetchIntoObjectPool RPC that handles all of these special tasks while also executing the regular housekeeping tasks we execute for standard Git repositories.

Object pools are getting optimized automatically whenever the primary member is getting garbage collected. Therefore, the cadence can be configured using the same Git GC period in that project.

If you need to manually invoke the RPC from a Rails console, you can call project.pool_repository.object_pool.fetch. This is a potentially long-running task, though Gitaly times out after about 8 hours.