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3 ways to migrate from Visual Studio Codespaces to GitHub Codespaces

n3wt0n profile image Davide Benvegnù ・5 min read

You may have already heard about this, but Visual Studio Codespaces will be soon retired in favor of GitHub Codespaces. This means we have to migrate to it to continue to use this awesome online development environment.

Today we are going to explore 3 ways to migrate from Visual Studio Codespaces to GitHub Codespaces.

What is happening?

If you have been using Visual Studio Codespaces before, you've probably received this email.

The Email

Soon you won't be able to create new Visual Studio Codespaces environments and in February 2021 we will not be able to access the service anymore, and any Codespaces or plans that you created through it will be deleted.

Why is this?

Currently, Azure customers have two options for cloud-hosted development environments — Visual Studio Codespaces and GitHub Codespaces. To streamline and simplify the user experience, Microsoft and Github are consolidating these services in GitHub Codespaces, and they'll retire Visual Studio Codespaces on 17 February 2021.

It's time to migrate

So, we have to move to GitHub Codespaces. Today I want to walk you through 3 ways to do so, 3 ways to migrate from Visual Studio Codespaces to Github Codespaces.

I will also give you a timeline, and few extra information about the whole move.


If you are a visual learner, or simply prefer to watch and listen instead of reading, here you have the video with the whole explanation and demo, which to be fair is much more complete than this post.

(Link to the video:

If you rather prefer reading, well... let's just continue :)

The timeline

Let's talk about the timeline first.


GitHub Codespaces are already available in beta since September 4, so maybe you already have it enabled or, if not, you can ask for entering the beta.

Starting on November 20, 2020 we will not be able to create new plans and new environments, and new users won't be able to sing up for the service. At this stage, however, existing Codespaces environments will still be working.

Finally, on February 17, 2021 the service will be retired. This means that you will not be able to access the portal anymore and the existing environments will be deleted.

Why migrating now?

Even though we still have few months to migrate from VS Codespaces to GitHub Codespaces, I'd recommend moving as soon as possible, for 2 reasons:

  1. GitHub Codespaces is currently free, since it is in beta, while you are paying for the Visual Studio Codespaces
  2. So you have more time to familiarize with the new service, even tho it is very similar, and you can solve any issue you might encounter

Alright, so how can we migrate from Visual Studio Codespaces to GitHub Codespaces?

Let's start by saying that there isn't a direct way to move Visual Studio Codespaces over to GitHub Codespaces. You will eventually need to re-create your codespaces once you gain access to the GitHub Codespaces beta.

But we have 3 ways to do it, let's go through each one of these.

1 - Everything from scratch


The first way is obviously from scratch. This is probably the simplest way but also the most time-consuming one.

  1. Create your own GitHub repository
  2. Manually push all the code there
  3. Copy over or re-create all the customization you have (like dotfiles, containersettings.json, etc)
  4. and then you create the Codespaces environment.

As you can see, this will be quite time consuming.

2 - Export and Download


The second way we have for moving our Visual Studio Codespaces environment to GitHub is by exporting and downloading the actual environment.

You would need VS Code with the Codespaces extension to do this.

In the Codespaces view:

  • Login to Codespaces
  • Right Click on the Codespaces environment
  • Export Codespaces

Remember that the environment needs to be suspended, if it is not VS Code will ask and suspend it before it can proceed.

This will download your whole Codespaces environment workspace. And this includes all the customizations you've made, and all the changes you have done to your application that you may not have yet pushed to the remote repository.

In fact if we compare the source repo with the content of the exported Codespaces workspace we can see that the latter contains files and especially settings and customizations that are not present in the remote repo.

Now all I have to do is create a new repo, upload (aka push) the files I've just downloaded and my GitHub Codespaces environment will be complete with all the settings and customizations I had before in the Visual Studio Codespaces one.

Cool isn't it?


3 - Git to the rescue


This is somehow similar to the previous one, with the difference that we don't need to download the files and re-upload them to GitHub. Git can do this for us.

First, you need to have an empty GitHub repo. It should be not initialized for this to work.

Then, in your Codespaces environment you can access the Terminal and just add a new origin to your workspace:

git remote add GHorigin

git push -u GHorigin
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And that's it.

Since the workspace contains all the customizations and settings, now we have all the files in here, and we can spin up a new Codespaces environment from here.


Common questions

Check this section of the video for some answer to the most commonly asked questions about this

Those include:

  • Are VS Codespaces and GitHub Codespaces at feature parity?
  • What about the private preview of Codespaces for Visual Studio?
  • Can I use other Git providers?


Alright, that's it for today.

Will you be migrating to GitHub Codespaces anytime soon?

Let me know in the comment section below if you can think of any other way to do the migration.

Discussion (1)

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n3wt0n profile image
Davide Benvegnù Author

How else would you migrate from Visual Studio Codespaces to GitHub Codespaces?