When I open up a file remotely using scp (and possibly other protocols), running the undo command (right away, or repeatedly if I've made edits) clears the file. Why does this happen - is it a bug?

My guess is that it is a quirk of how remote editing is implemented - like Vim is actually opening a new local file, and then the first change is to copy all the text of the remote file into the new file.

  • There's a manual not-perfect workaround - to exec :set undoreload=0 | edit once file is open. This cut the undo history. I however could not make it exec automatically with autocmd. Tried autocmd EVENT scp://* :set undoreload=0 | edit with EVENT either of BufRead BufEnter BufFilePost.
    – Tag Wint
    Jul 26, 2018 at 17:36

1 Answer 1


Vim is using netrw to enable transparent remote file editing, see :h scp.

Try running :set modified? before and after :undo, you will see that a temporary buffer (probably stored locally) is created, then the content is fetched and written by the plugin.

It is not a perfect user experience but I guess it's how it works !

  • Is it to be understood as "there's nothing you can do about it" ?
    – Tag Wint
    Jul 26, 2018 at 17:31
  • @TagWint as far as I know, yes. I think you can restore the last version of the file using :e!.
    – LEI
    Jul 26, 2018 at 19:06

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