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Run wget In Background For an Unattended Download of Files on a Linux and Unix

Here is a quick tip, if you wish to perform an unattended download of large files such as a Linux DVD ISO image file use the wget command.


The syntax is as follows for a non-interactive download:

wget -bqc http://path-to-url/linux.iso

You will see a PID on screen:

Continuing in background, pid 12345.


  • -b : Go to background immediately after startup. If no output file is specified via the -o, output is redirected to wget-log.
  • -q : Turn off Wget’s output aka save disk space.
  • -c : Resume broken download i.e. continue getting a partially-downloaded file. This is useful when you want to finish up a download started by a previous instance of Wget, or by another program.


This tip will save your time while downloading large ISO file or any other files from the Internets:

## download a large file in background ##
wget -bqc  http://bay.uchicago.edu/centos/7.0.1406/isos/x86_64/CentOS-7.0-1406-x86_64-DVD.iso
## Verify it ##
ps aux | grep wget
ls -lh CentOS-7.0-1406-x86_64-DVD.iso
## [Optional] Stop download by killing by PID number
ps aux | grep wget

Sample session from above commands:

Fig.01: Force wget go to background immediately after download startup

Fig.01: Force wget go to background immediately after download startup

The nohup command

You can also use the nohup command to execute commands after you exit from a shell prompt. The syntax is:

$ nohup wget -qc http://path-to-url/linux.iso &
## exit from shell or close the terminal ##
$ exit

The disown bash command

Another option is to use the disown command as follows:

$ wget -qc http://path-to-url/linux.iso &
[1] 10685
$ disown wget
$ ps
  PID TTY          TIME CMD
10685 pts/0    00:00:00 wget
10687 pts/0    00:00:00 bash
10708 pts/0    00:00:00 ps
$ logout

See disown command examples for more info.

The screen command

You can also use the screen command which is a full-screen window manager that multiplexes a physical terminal between several processes (typically interactive shells).

See also
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{ 7 comments… add one }

  • downforce September 14, 2007, 12:21 am

    Nice tip thanks.

    Personally though screen is still more useful.

  • skip September 14, 2007, 5:34 am

    How to download a file, In ‘save target as’ mode. Sometimes files are hidden under some urls. How to download such files.

  • Dave February 2, 2010, 9:36 am

    nice tip! if you give the -q option does -b not output to a log file?

  • mccbala April 15, 2011, 11:26 am

    Wow! I’ve really needed this… Thanks a ton!

  • majed July 19, 2011, 1:25 pm

    Thanks, the b option is great, I can use this option to download large files, initiating the download from an SSH terminal, and the download will continue after I close the SSH terminal.

  • amplatfus September 12, 2012, 7:51 am

    Can option b used in dd-wrt router? I want the download to continue after closing the terminal in Ubuntu. I want the download to continue in router with dd-wrt firmware and HDD attashed.
    Thank you for post and all comments!

  • person August 4, 2014, 3:19 pm

    perfect for using in win-scp or other tools that can issue single ssh commands but cant handle interactive output.

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