Bitbucket vs. GitHub code repository hosting comparison

Bitbucket and GitHub are the preferred repository hosting services for development with the version management Git. They are suitable for private open-source projects as well as for teaching institutions or commercial programming. What are the key differences and similarities?

What are Bitbucket and GitHub?

Bitbucket and GitHub are repository hosting services with free and paid offerings that let you host private and public repositories for development projects in a variety of programming languages. Both are suitable for people with extensive programming knowledge as well as for users who are just learning programming.


GitHub is not only considered one of the most important and popular development platforms, but also offers one of the largest coding communities with over 40 million active members and more than 100 million code repositories. Founded in 2004 as an open-source hosting platform for source code, GitHub has been owned by Microsoft since 2018. The platform focuses on public, free and unlimited repositories. GitHub was written in Ruby and Erlang. Over 200 programming languages are supported.


Bitbucket was founded in 2008 by software company Atlassian. Bitbucket provides free private and public repositories as a version management hosting platform. The hosting service can also be extended with various tools and services from Atlassian. These include the Jira tool for bug management and project management and the Trello tool for collaboration and organization. Bitbucket was written in Python and is built on the Django web application framework. Unlike GitHub, Bitbucket offers a smaller community and emphasizes private repositories.


Bitbucket is just one of the recommended GitHub alternatives. The GitLab platform is also quite appealing: Apart from GitLab’s Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD), the similarity to GitHub is enormous, as our article “GitLab vs. GitHub” shows.

Why is good code repository hosting important?

Code repositories serve as a supplement and foundation for development projects that you can realize alone or in a team using programming languages, code editors and version control systems such as Git and SVN. Depending on the requirements, a code repository or repository hosting serves as a central management point and development platform that ensures the best possible workflow.

While version control systems such as Git clearly document and manage code changes and project histories, a hosted repository offers the advantage that tools for organization, administration, communication and history storage are already integrated and centrally accessible.

Offerings and scope of services differ depending on the host. However, good repository hosting should include the following functions in any case:

  • Code review (Code Review)
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Repository creation via website or command line
  • Inline editing
  • Markdown support
  • History/project documentation and issue tracking
  • Third-party tool integration
  • Free private/data protected repositories
  • Code access and permissions for team members and collaborators
  • User-friendly interface
  • Price/performance models to suit your needs

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What are similarities of Bitbucket and GitHub?

The following common services and features are offered by both systems for efficient programming and powerful workflow:

  • Free plans: Bitbucket offers a free plan for teams of up to five people and unlimited public and private repositories with 1 GB of storage. GitHub, in turn, offers unlimited public and private repositories for unlimited people with 500 MB of storage
  • Paid-for plans: Depending on the requirements of the team size, organization, monthly minutes needed, and projects. Services, number of users, and storage volume can be customized through paid usage plans.
  • Collection and management of snippets: Both services offer collections of code snippets that are publicly maintained and enhanced by the respective community or privately created by teams for respective projects
  • 2FA: Secure 2-factor authentication allows team members to access code repositories only by password and after a second security check. While 2FA is included out of the box with GitHub, it can be added to Bitbucket via the Atlassian Marketplace.
  • Wiki: Both Bitbucket and GitHub offer accompanying source code project documentation to facilitate collaboration and clearly document code changes.
  • Code reviews: With built-in code review, both hosting services offer tools for error checking or simplifying and optimizing code sections
  • Access permission: Depending on the size and composition of the development team, access permissions or restrictions can be set as needed at the team or branch level.
  • Community and tutorials: Both hosting services have active communities and numerous Bitbucket, GitHub and Git tutorials. Tutorials that provide appropriate, quick solutions to questions and problems.

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What are differences between Bitbucket and GitHub?

Despite all their similarities, there are important differences between Bitbucket and GitHub. The biggest difference lies in the type of repositories. Although GitHub also allows private repositories in principle, it is considered the first choice when it comes to creating and using public code repositories. Bitbucket focuses on private code repositories.

Other differences between Bitbucket and GitHub:

  • Integration of third-party software: Bitbucket offers more than 2,000 apps and tools for project management, code monitoring, code review and more, thanks to the Atlassian Marketplace. GitHub also offers numerous third-party tools with the GitHub Marketplace, but unlike Bitbucket, they are not from the same manufacturer.
  • User interface: Bitbucket’s user interface is very clear and offers easy navigation and search including a practical sidebar menu. GitHub also has a clear user interface, but it is slightly more difficult for beginners to understand.
  • Functionality of the Wikis: With Bitbucket, separate wikis can be activated for each repository and made available either publicly or privately. GitHub, on the other hand, lets you enable custom wikis for public repositories only
  • Access permission pricing: Although access permissions are offered as needed by both services, unlike GitHub, Bitbucket offers custom branch permissions even in the free plan. Access to individual or selected branches for specific team members can therefore be configured for free. Predefined branch permissions, on the other hand, can only be used for free with GitHub for private repositories.
  • Community Engagement: GitHub has a very large and very active community. This is complemented by an experienced community support team made up of knowledgeable developers who provide reliable answers and solutions to questions and problems. Bitbucket also offers support through its own, but smaller community, as well as various tutorials and documentation
  • Pricing: Bitbucket caters well to small teams with its pricing plans, and also to companies that value self-managed hosting, lots of storage space, unlimited users and maximum security. GitHub also offers plans for large teams and enterprises but is primarily the most popular solution for open source projects used to create public code repositories.
  • Search functions: Bitbucket includes the powerful “omnibar” with multiple navigation options and a semantic search that outputs not only changes and labels of variables, but also definitions. GitHub, in turn, offers diverse search options that include “hot repositories”, search trends, or job listings.
  • Privacy: Bitbucket is the first Git solution to offer reliable privacy and data security for stored source code. In addition, the Bitbucket cloud has an independently validated SOC 2Type II certification.

The most important differences are listed below:

Bitbucket GitHub
Repository focus Focus on private code repositories Focus on public code repositories
User friendliness Intuitive user interface User interface somewhat more complex
Extensibility Integration with Atlassian tools and apps via Atlassian Marketplace and third-party tools Integration of third-party tools via GitHub Marketplace
Wikis Dedicated wikis for private and public repositories Custom code wikis only for public repositories
Access permission Special branch permissions available to members on free plan for all repositories Predefined branch permissions only free for private repositories
Community Smaller community Very large, active community
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