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get ftp directory recursively

Linux: Download all file from ftp server recursively

You can use ncftpget command to download entire ftp directory and sub directories from remote ftp server. Let us say you would like to download /www-data directory and all subdirectories inside this one from ftp.nixcraft.net server. You need to use ncftpget command.

Install ncftp client

ncftp client software can be downloaded from http://www.ncftp.com/ncftp/ and works with FreeBSD, Solaris and all most all UNIX variant. You can also run command as follows to install ncftp:
$ sudo apt-get install ncftp

FTP get directory recursively

ncftpget is Internet file transfer program for scripts and advance usage. You need to use command as follows:
$ ncftpget –R –v –u "ftpuser" ftp.nixcraft.net /home/vivek/backup /www-data

  • -R : Copy all subdirectories and files (recursive)
  • -v : Verbose i.e. display download activity and progess
  • -u "USERNAME" : FTP server username, if skipped ncftpget will try anonymous username
  • ftp.nixcraft.net : Ftp server name
  • /home/vivek/backup : Download everything to this directory
  • /www-data : Remote ftp directory you wish to copy

If you get an error which read as follows:

tar: End of archive volume 1 reached
tar: Sorry, unable to determine archive format.
Could not read directory listing data: Connection reset by peer

Then add –T option to ncftpget command:

$ ncftpget –T –R –v –u "ftpuser" ftp.nixcraft.net /home/vivek/backup /www-data


  • -T : Do not try to use TAR mode with Recursive mode