How to Make a GitHub Repository Private

Up until now, the ability to make a private repository was the best reason to pay for GitHub Pro. Developers could use GitHub for free, which came with a full set of tools like branch protection rules, pull requests, and project metrics. However, every line of code that was committed was visible to everyone. All of that is about to change.

A developer can now create a private GitHub repository in the free tier as of January 7, 2019. The ability to find code written by other developers who have already solved your problem is one of GitHub’s most important contributions to the programming world.

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Things You Should Know About GitHub Private Repository

Any software developers who want to try something new, experiment with a new language or begin a project that they don’t want their current employer to know about will no longer have access to the associated source code.

GitLab and Bitbucket by Atlassian, two of GitHub’s main competitors, both offer this freemium feature to their free-tier users. In some ways, GitHub is simply catching up to its competitors.

What is a private GitHub repository?

A small but welcome change is that you can now create a private GitHub repository for free. As with any change, there is always the risk of unintended consequences. The public and open nature of the repositories on GitHub made it a household name.  Let’s hope that the ability to create private repositories does not limit the amount of code that developers share openly and publicly with one another.

Restrictions on GitHub Private Repository

Some restrictions apply to free private GitHub repositories. Here are the limitations:

  • One limitation is that a private GitHub repository can only have three contributors. That’s fine for personal development or someone working on a small project requiring input from a few peers.
  • Private GitHub repositories with more than three contributors, on the other hand, will require you to pay the GitHub Pro monthly fee.
  • Other features that have been taken away from free public GitHub repositories are the ability to set branch protection rules, integrate GitHub Pages, and make a project wiki.
  • To use these features, either a project must be made public or a user must upgrade to a GitHub Pro account.
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How to Get GitHub Pro

Individually, GitHub Pro currently costs $7 per month. This option supports more than three contributors and includes built-in code review tools that notify other contributors when a pull request is made.

There are also two paid GitHub options: GitHub Team and GitHub Enterprise. These subscriptions include additional features and cost $9 and $21 per month, respectively.

In the competitive world of source code hosting services, GitHub has taken away one of the main reasons why developers used to choose Bitbucket or GitLab as their first choice. A small but welcome change is that you can now create a private GitHub repository for free.


The full features of GitHub and its repositories can be accessed if you subscribe with the pricing available here. You can learn more about the basic things in working on GitHub here.

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