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GitHub Follows GitLab and Bitbucket and now offers private repositories for free

github free gitlab

Starting from today, GitHub is offering free repositories – at no charge  – on their public cloud (github dot com).

They limit it to 3 free collaborator users (who write code), and you have to pay if you have more than 3 (as it was before).

It’s good for those who have a side-project and they want to keep it private; those who want to keep files private and those who want to hide a project before they make it public. On the other hand, it’s quite common to think that the only advantage of GitHub is the high exposure to public projects (and in private projects there are great alternatives as you will see below).

 In my opinion, this move is a reaction to stop the drift of user abandonment (many left in the last few months to GitLab since the company was acquired by Microsoft), and possibly towards a future change in which Microsoft will require GitHub users to work on Azure

In the new mode, the difference between the common tools, in the cloud version, is as of today:

  • At GitHub, as mentioned, there are up to 3 free users
  • Bitbucket has up to 5 free users
  • GitLab has no limit on the number of free users


All the tools offer private repositories with no quantitative limitation of repos, and GitLab offers the most generous repo volume (up to 10GB of free storage per repo.) GitHub has a maximum limit of 1GB and Bitbucket up to 2GB.

Here’s a summary of differences in offering on public cloud and free tier:

Free users Max repo size (GB) Max file size (MB) Max API calls per hour (per client)
GitHub 3 2 100 5000
BitBucket 5 1 Unlimited (up to repo size) 5000
GitLab Unlimited 10 Unlimited (up to repo size) 36000

GitLab also offers (at no charge) a built-in CI/CD tool (so your SCM and CI work together tightly), private wiki and an entire DevOps lifecycle

This morning I read some reviews from around the world for the move, and many expressed concern that “if you get something for free, you become the product” and the old fear that public repositories are being hacked from time to time (such as DDOS attacks). Many answered that if the fear is solid,  then it is always possible to build such a private server, and even for free (with GitLab).

Referring to private server / On-premises / self-hosted versions, it seems that the competition has been decided and all the surveys over the last two years show that at least 70% of new projects – especially by companies and organizations that develop software – choose GitLab (slides and links to surveys can be found on our blog).

Need help choosing the right tool for your needs? Contact us via devops@almtoolbox.com  or
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Tamir Gefen is the founder and CEO of ALM-Toolbox.

ALM-Toolbox provides professional services, support, private /public cloud hosting, training and licenses for all the tools mentioned above, besides many other tools like git, Kubernetes, Rancher, Docker, Jenkins, Jira, Spotinst, Terraform, Vault, Grafana, Mattermost, Snyk, White Source, ClearCase, ClearQuest and more.