Last Updated on 10. July 2023 by Victor Karp
This SVN tutorial for Windows and Linux explains how to delete the history of an SVN repository to save space. This is useful if you use SVN to manage binary data, like in game development with the Unreal Engine.
Table of Contents
The TL;DR for experienced users (or to recap)
If you already know what you are doing, here’s everything you need. If none of this makes sense, read on.
svnadmin dump path_to_repo -r first_revision:last_revision > path_to_dump_file svnadmin create path_to_new_repo svnadmin load path_to_new_repo < path_to_dump_file
The concept of deleting old SVN revisions explained
- You decide for a range of revisions that you want to keep.
- You export this range of revisions as a single file, called a dump.
- You create a new, empty repository and import this dump into it.
When you commit something in SVN, SVN doesn’t save a full copy of the changed file. Instead, only changes to the previous version of this file are stored. However, the first revision in this dump doesn’t have a history, because you deliberately cut this history off to save disk space. When SVN creates the dump, it merges the entire history that came before the commit you want to start with into the new first commit.
Step 1/4: Installing svnadmin
To be able to modify the history of your SVN repository, you need to have svnadmin installed first.
If you are on Windows, you are probably using VisualSVN Server to manage your SVN repositories. During the installation, there’s a checkbox called Add Subversion command-line tools to the PATH environment variable. The checkbox is enabled by default. Unless you have deliberately disabled it, you are good to go.
svnadmin package via your package manager.
On Debian/Ubuntu, do so by writing
sudo apt install svnadmin into the Terminal.
Step 2/4: Creating the SVN dump file
First, we are going to save the revisions we want to keep to a single file.
Open the Windows PowerShell from the start menu or the Terminal on Linux. Then use the following syntax:
svnadmin dump path_to_repo -r oldest_revision:newest_revision > path_to_dumpfile
svnadmin dump C:\huge_repo -r 150:160 > C:\dumpfile
This saves revision 150 to 160 from the repository located at
C:\huge_repo into a file called
dumpfile and stores it on
If the newest revision you want to keep is the latest commit in this repo, you can also write
HEAD instead of the latest revision number (e.g.
Step 3/4: Creating an empty SVN repo
You need a new empty repo to load the dump file. Create the new repo like this:
svnadmin create path_to_new_repo
svnadmin create C:\new_repo
Step 4/4: Importing the SVN dump
Lastly, you need to import the dump file into the new empty repo. It works like this:
svnadmin load path_to_empty_repo < path_to_dumpfile
svnadmin load C:\my_new_svn_repo < C:\dumpfile
You can delete the dump file once is has been successfully imported into the new empty repo.
Visit the Version Control Tutorials main page for more Version Control tutorials.