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Record changes to DVC-tracked files in the project, by saving them to the cache and updating the dvc.lock or .dvc files.


usage: dvc commit [-h] [-q | -v] [-f] [-d] [-R]
                  [targets [targets ...]]

positional arguments:
  targets        Limit command scope to these stages or .dvc files.
                 Using -R, directories to search for stages or .dvc
                 files can also be given.


The dvc commit command is useful for several scenarios, when data already tracked by DVC changes: when a stage or pipeline is in development/experimentation; when manually editing or generating DVC outputs; or to force update the dvc.lock or .dvc files without reproducing stages or pipelines. These scenarios are further detailed below.

  • Code or data for a stage is under active development, with multiple iterations (experiments) in code, configuration, or data. Use the --no-commit option of DVC commands (dvc add, dvc run, dvc repro) to avoid caching unnecessary data repeatedly. Use dvc commit when the DVC-tracked data is final.

    ๐Ÿ’ก For convenience, a pre-commit Git hook is available to remind you to dvc commit when needed. See dvc install for more details.

  • It's always possible to manually execute the source code used in a stage without DVC (outputs must be unprotected or removed first in certain cases, see dvc unprotect). Once a desirable result is reached, use dvc add or dvc commit as appropriate to update the dvc.lock or .dvc files and store changed data to the cache.
  • Sometimes we want to edit source code, config, or data files in a way that doesn't cause changes in the results of their data pipeline. We might write add code comments, change indentation, remove some debugging printouts, or any other change that doesn't cause changed stage outputs. However, DVC will notice that some dependencies have changed, and expect you to reproduce the whole pipeline. If you're sure no pipeline results would change, use dvc commit to force update the dvc.lock or .dvc files and cache.

Let's take a look at what is happening in the first scenario closely. Normally DVC commands like dvc add, dvc repro or dvc run commit the data to the cache after creating or updating a dvc.lock or .dvc file. What commit means is that DVC:

  • Computes a hash for the file/directory.
  • Enters the hash value and file name in the dvc.lock or .dvc file.
  • Tells Git to ignore the file/directory (adding them to .gitignore). (Note that if the project was initialized with no Git support (dvc init --no-scm), this does not happen.)
  • Adds the file/directory to the cache.

There are many cases where the last step is not desirable (for example rapid iterations on an experiment). The --no-commit option prevents the last step from occurring (on the commands where it's available), saving time and space by not storing unwanted data artifacts. The file hash is still computed and added to the dvc.lock or .dvc file, but the actual data file is not saved in the cache. This is where the dvc commit command comes into play. It performs that last step (saving the data in cache).

Note that it's best to avoid the last two scenarios. They essentially force-update the dvc.lock or .dvc files and save data to cache. They are still useful, but keep in mind that DVC can't guarantee reproducibility in those cases.


  • -d, --with-deps - determines files to commit by tracking dependencies to the target stages or .dvc files. If no targets are provided, this option is ignored. By traversing all stage dependencies, DVC searches backward from the target stages in the corresponding pipelines. This means DVC will not commit files referenced in later stages than the targets.
  • -R, --recursive - determines the files to commit by searching each target directory and its subdirectories for stages or .dvc files to inspect. If there are no directories among the targets, this option is ignored.
  • -f, --force - commit data even if hash values for dependencies or outputs did not change.
  • -h, --help - prints the usage/help message, and exit.
  • -q, --quiet - do not write anything to standard output. Exit with 0 if no problems arise, otherwise 1.
  • -v, --verbose - displays detailed tracing information from executing the dvc add command.


Let's employ a simple workspace with some data, code, ML models, pipeline stages, such as the DVC project created for the Get Started. Then we can see what happens with git commit and dvc commit in different situations.

Click and expand to setup the project

Start by cloning our example repo if you don't already have it:

$ git clone https://github.com/iterative/example-get-started
$ cd example-get-started

Now let's install the requirements. But before we do that, we strongly recommend creating a virtual environment:

$ python3 -m venv .env
$ source .env/bin/activate
$ pip install -r src/requirements.txt

Download the precomputed data using:

$ dvc pull --all-branches --all-tags

Example: Rapid iterations

Sometimes we want to iterate through multiple changes to configuration, code, or data, trying different ways to improve the output of a stage. To avoid filling the cache with undesired intermediate results, we can run a single stage with dvc run --no-commit, or reproduce an entire pipeline using dvc repro --no-commit. This prevents data from being pushed to cache. When development of the stage is finished, dvc commit can be used to store data files in the cache.

In the featurize stage, src/featurization.py is executed. A useful change to make is adjusting the parameters for that script. The parameters are defined in the params.yaml file. Updating the value of the max_features param to 6000 changes the resulting model:

  max_features: 6000
  ngrams: 2

This edit introduces a change that would cause the featurize, train and evaluate stages to execute if we ran dvc repro. But if we want to try several values for max_features and save only the best result to the cache, we can run it like this:

$ dvc repro --no-commit

We can run this command as many times as we like, editing params.yaml any way we like, and so long as we use --no-commit, the data does not get saved to the cache. Let's verify that's the case:

First verification:

$ dvc status
	changed outs:
	  not in cache:       data/features
	changed outs:
		not in cache:       model.pkl

Now we can look in the cache directory to see if the new version of model.pkl is not in cache indeed. Let's look at the latest state of train in dvc.lock first:

  cmd: python src/train.py data/features model.pkl
    - path: data/features
      md5: de03a7e34e003e54dde0d40582c6acf4.dir
    - path: src/train.py
      md5: ad8e71b2cca4334a7d3bb6495645068c
      train.n_estimators: 100
      train.seed: 20170428
    - path: model.pkl
      md5: 9aba000ba83b341a423a81eed8ff9238

To verify this instance of model.pkl is not in the cache, we must know the path to the cached file. In the cache directory, the first two characters of the hash value are used as a subdirectory name, and the remaining characters are the file name. Therefore, had the file been committed to the cache, it would appear in the directory .dvc/cache/9a. Let's check:

$ ls .dvc/cache/9a
ls: .dvc/cache/9a: No such file or directory

If we've determined the changes to params.yaml were successful, we can execute this set of commands:

$ dvc commit
$ dvc status
Data and pipelines are up to date.
$ ls .dvc/cache/70

We've verified that dvc commit has saved the changes into the cache, and that the new instance of model.pkl is there.

Example: Running commands without DVC

It is also possible to execute the commands that are executed by dvc repro by hand. You won't have DVC helping you, but you have the freedom to run any command you like, even ones not defined in dvc.yaml stages. For example:

$ python src/featurization.py data/prepared data/features
$ python src/train.py data/features model.pkl
$ python src/evaluate.py model.pkl data/features auc.metric

As before, dvc status will show which files have changed, and when your work is finalized dvc commit will commit everything to the cache.

Example: Updating dependencies

Sometimes we want to clean up a code or configuration file in a way that doesn't cause a change in its results. We might write in-line documentation with comments, change indentation, remove some debugging printouts, or any other change that doesn't produce different output of pipeline stages.

$ git status -s
M src/train.py

$ dvc status
    changed deps:
        modified:           src/train.py

Let's edit one of the source code files. It doesn't matter which one. You'll see that both Git and DVC recognize a change was made.

If we ran dvc repro at this point, this pipeline would be reproduced. But since the change was inconsequential, that would be a waste of time and CPU. That's especially critical if the corresponding stages take lots of resources to execute.

$ git add src/train.py

$ git commit -m "CHANGED"
[master 72327bd] CHANGED
1 file changed, 2 insertions(+)

$ dvc commit
dependencies ['src/train.py'] of 'train.dvc' changed.
Are you sure you commit it? [y/n] y

$ dvc status
Data and pipelines are up to date.

Instead of reproducing the pipeline for changes that do not produce different results, just use commit on both Git and DVC.


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