In the simplest terms,
git pull does a
git fetch followed by a
You can do a
git fetch at any time to update your remote-tracking branches under
This operation never changes any of your own local branches under
refs/heads, and is safe to do without changing your working copy. I have even heard of people running
git fetch periodically in a cron job in the background (although I wouldn't recommend doing this).
git pull is what you would do to bring a local branch up-to-date with its remote version, while also updating your other remote-tracking branches.