Git vs SVN – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons)

Git vs SVN – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons). If you are new to Git and SVN, there is a chance that you are finding it hard to distinguish between the two. First of all, Git and SVN are version control systems that keep track of codes. While they both share similar qualities, they are each different and unique in their way. So, how do you tell the difference between Git and SVN? 

Before understanding the core difference between Git and SVN, we need to understand their basic concepts and how they work. These basic concepts assist you to better understand the difference between these two control systems. Hence, in this article, we guide you through all you need to know. 

Let’s start with the article Git vs SVN – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons).

What is Git?

Basically, Git is a distributed version control system many developers use. It helps you keep track of certain files or codes by recording changes made to a source file or code. Additionally, Git also allows people to make changes and work together on code.

Most version control systems require you to connect to the central repository before you gain access and make changes to a source code, but it doesn’t work that way on Git. Developers also run Git locally on their devices, which means you can store your files and codes on your local computer. Besides, you run and edit these files offline instead of logging into a central network whenever you need to change.

Features of Git

  • An open source and free software. It gives you access to different source codes which you easily modify and enhance. Moreover, you also modify a code with a team of contributors simultaneously.
  • Git enables its users to carry out non linear development of projects. Follow a different path than a straight path to modify a source code or file. Start from wherever you want to modify first and move on to the rest later.
  • With Git, you track the changes you or anyone else made on a source file. This tracking of history makes it easy to work in tune with these changes as they are being made.
  • Git’s software compresses excess data stored on the central repository, so they occupy minimal space. This feature helps to tackle the excess information being processed by a lot of contributors at the same time.

Next part of our article Git vs SVN – What’s the Difference ? is to find our pros and cons. 

Pros of Git

  • With Git, you don’t need to always log into the source code online before you can work on it. Certainly, you save a copy of the source code on your computer and work on it offline without a network connection anytime you want to. After working and making changes to the local file, you push these changes to the source code by connecting again. 
  • Git enables people to save a copy of a source code on their local computer. They also change this local copy, reflecting on the source code. Git manages every change made to the source code and merges them so you keep track of all the new lines of code that have been added or removed.
  • In most version control systems, if the source code on the main repository is lost, it may not be possible to recover the lost code since all the data is gone. Consequently, Git allows users to save a copy of the source code on their local computer. It makes it possible to recover the source code from this saved copy even when the source code has been lost from the main repository.
  • Git software is compatible with several operating systems. The repository of Git is also compatible with a few version control systems. It means you  access the repository of other version control systems through Git.

Cons of Git

  • If you are new to Git, it is potentially difficult to use. Especially while trying to push the changes you made offline. You need to understand how the version control system works and how they respond to different tweaks. Without this knowledge, it will not be easy to use Git from the get go.
  • One of the main disadvantages of using Git is that it isn’t possible to save large binary files in the main repository. The disk space on Git works just fine at helping to store a lot of files and information. But it doesn’t have any feature that enables you to fully compress these large binary files and store them on the main repository.
  • Anyone with access to the central repository on Git have an access to everything. This easy access makes Git more susceptible to attacks because there is no limit placed on contributors concerning what files they can access on the central repository.

Up next with the article Git vs SVN – What’s the Difference ? we will introduce SVN.

What is SVN?

SVN is short for subversion and is among the most popular version control systems. Like Git, it helps keep track of changes made to a source code across several projects. SVN is a centralized version control system. A centralized version control system means that a code and its different changes are stored on a central server and can only be accessed by connecting to the central repository/server.

When different developers connect to the central server, they can manage the previous and current versions of a code. This connection makes it easy for many developers to work together and build a project by working on the source code. SVN was introduced in 2000 under the Apache license, and it has been very useful to developers since then.

Features of SVN

  • The commits on SVN are a single unit of work. These single units of work mean that every commit you create will only be committed to one thing. The Atomic commits feature helps a code to succeed as a whole.
  • SVN has a feature that enables users to lock files that cannot be merged. This file locking helps deny a contributor access to a file, so they won’t be able to make changes to it. The reason is that a contributor’s new change to a file can erase all of your previous changes if you decide to merge. 
  • SVN has a standalone server for users that want to avoid running an apache HTTPD server. Instead, they can use the SVN standalone server, which works just as well as Apache HTTPD. Nothing changes in the services of SVN if you decide to use the standalone server.
  • SVN allows its contributors to add metadata (properties) to a file or directory. Just like file contents, properties can be versioned anytime you intend. Even without setting properties to a file, each has unique but invisible properties.

Following part of Git vs SVN – What’s the Difference ? is SVN pros and cons.

Pros of SVN

  • The process of editing and pushing changes to a source code on a central server is easy to do while using SVN. Most version control systems need a crash course to learn how they work. In SVN, the steps to follow are self explanatory.
  • The access to the central repository can be divided into different sections. You can limit contributors’ access to only certain sections of the central repository. This limited access also helps in the security of certain files and to help contributors focus on only one project at a time.
  • Every version control system has storage capacities for many files, but SVN stands out because it allows contributors to save large binary files even on the central server. This storage capacity of the central repository is highly beneficial to a team of developers dealing with these kinds of files. 

Cons of SVN

  • SVN has no offline features; therefore, to work with SVN, you must be connected to the central repository before working on a code or file. If you are offline, it will not be possible to carry out any activity on SVN. Every work being carried out on SVN will always have to be online and connected to the central repository. 
  • SVN is a centralized version control system, and it has no backup. Developers will see only a copy of a source code on SVN, which they can only access on the central repository. If the source code on this central repository is lost, It won’t be easy to back it up since contributors do not have an offline copy of the source code on their local computers. 
  • While using SVN, merging to a central repository is a bit harder if other contributors are working and trying to do the same thing. The excess workload on the central repository causes conflicts between the changes being made by the contributors.

Differences Between Git and SVN



Git is a distributed version control system. A distributed version control system means you connect to the source code on the main repository and save this code on your local computer. This way, you can work on the source code locally without connecting to the main repository. After you work on the source code locally, you push the changes to the main repository by connecting again.


SVN is a centralized version control system. The only way you gain access and make changes to a source code is to connect to the central/main repository. Unlike Git, saving the source code on your local computer is impossible, so you will have to do all the work on SVN online.

Learning Curve


Git is generally harder to learn. It is harder to learn because many processes involve offline working on a source code and pushing it to the main repository. The commands and concepts on Git also require you to be tech savvy. Newbies often find it difficult to use Git for the first time.


Unlike Git, SVN is easier to learn and understand. It is easy to understand because all the work done on SVN is usually on the central repository, making the whole process very straightforward. Additionally, the command lines on SVN are easy to follow, irrespective of how experienced you are with technology.



Git’s storage capacity is the same as that of other version control systems. But this similarity only ends with disk space. It isn’t possible to store large binary files on the main repository of Git. This storage capacity can be disadvantageous to many contributors on Git.


Compared to Git, the main repository of SVN can save binary files of any size. SVN automatically compresses these files and stores them on the main repository, and these large binary files take less space than they should.

Access control


In Git, limiting access to certain parts of the main repository is impossible. This inability to limit access means that anyone who accesses the repository will also have access to every piece of information available on the repository. The lack of access control can be a disadvantage regarding the security of the code or files on the repository.


SVN allows limiting contributors’ access to certain files on the main repository. This limited access to files helps with security and breaks down a team into hierarchies. In SVN, you can split certain directories and files for the different teams working on a project through the main repository of SVN.



Creating branches in Git is easy to do and fast to implement. You can use a branch in Git as a reference to a commit. You can make use of this branch in place of a commit or as a pointer to a commit The branch doesn’t need additional information, such as the creator’s name, creation date, and the rest. 


In Git, the branches serve as a commit, but in SVN, the branches are directories in a central repository. After creating a branch in SVN, you connect it back to the main repository by merging it. Merging a branch to the main repository can be time consuming, and there can be conflicts when many contributors merge branches simultaneously.



If you plan on checking out the subtrees (also known as branches) on Git, it will not be entirely possible. You have to view the entire repository as a whole. All branches do not have direct files you can use to access them.


Checking out subtrees or branches in SVN is pretty straightforward. It is easy to access the branches on SVN because you create a “.svn” directory in each folder. These folders act as access points to a branch.

Thank you for reading Git vs SVN – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons). We will conclude.

Git vs SVN – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons) Conclusion

At the beginning of this article, we explained that Git and SVN are similar in many ways as they are both version control systems that you can use to keep track of certain files and codes. While they might seem similar, they are also very different. We have also explained how they work to understand the differences between Git and SVN better. 

The basic concepts learned about Git and SVN make it easy to point out their differences, such as the difference in architecture. Git is a distributed version control system; meanwhile, SVN is centralized. There are also differences in branches, storage, access control, and many more. All of which we have explained in this article.

To check out more about Git navigate to our blog over here

Avatar for Kamso Oguejiofor
Kamso Oguejiofor

Kamso is a mechanical engineer and writer with a strong interest in anything related to technology. He has over 2 years of experience writing on topics like cyber security, network security, and information security. When he’s not studying or writing, he likes to play basketball, work out, and binge watch anime and drama series.

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