Linux wget: Your Ultimate Command Line Downloader

Posted on in Categories CentOS, Debian Linux, FreeBSD, Gentoo Linux, Howto, Linux, Linux desktop, Networking, RedHat/Fedora Linux, Shell scripting, Solaris, Suse Linux, Sys admin, Tips, Tuning, Ubuntu Linux, UNIX last updated September 12, 2010

It is a common practice to manage UNIX/Linux/BSD servers remotely over the ssh session. You may need to download download the software or other files for installation. There are a few powerful graphical download manager exits for Linux and UNIX like operating systems:

  • d4x: Downloader for X is a Linux/Unix userfriendly program with nice X interface to download files from the Internet. It suppotrs both FTP and HTTP protocols, supports resuming
  • kget: KGet is a versatile and user-friendly download manager for KDE desktop system.
  • gwget / gwget2: Gwget is a download manager for the Gnome Desktop

However, when it comes to command line (shell prompt) wget the non-interactive downloader rules. It supports http, ftp, https protocols along with authentication facility, and tons of other options. Here are some tips to get most out of it:

Download a Single File Using wget

Type the following command:
$ wget
$ wget
$ wget -O output.file
$ wget

Sample outputs:

Fig.01: wget example
Fig.01: wget example

How Do I Download Multiple Files Using wget?

Use the following syntax:
$ wget
You can create a shell variable that holds all urls and use the ‘BASH for loop‘ to download all files:

URLS=” \ \ \"
for u in $URLS
 wget $u 

How Do I Read URLs From a File?

You can put all urls in a text file and use the -i option to wget to download all files. First, create a text file:
$ vi /tmp/download.txt
Append a list of urls:

Type the wget command as follows:
$ wget -i /tmp/download.txt

Resume Downloads

You can also force wget to get 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:
$ wget -c
$ wget -c -i /tmp/download.txt

Please note that the -c option only works with FTP / HTTP servers that support the “range” header.

Force wget To Download All Files In Background

The -o option used to force wget to go into background immediately after startup. If no output file is specified via the -o option, output is redirected to wget-log file:
$ wget -cb -o /tmp/download.log -i /tmp/download.txt
$ nohup wget -c -o /tmp/download.log -i /tmp/download.txt &
nohup runs the given COMMAND (in this example wget) with hangup signals ignored, so that the command can continue running in the background after you log out.

How Do I Limit the Download Speed?

You can limit the download speed to amount bytes per second. Amount may be expressed in bytes, kilobytes with the k suffix, or megabytes with the m suffix. For example, –limit-rate=100k will limit the retrieval rate to 100KB/s. This is useful when, for whatever reason, you don’t want Wget to consume the entire available bandwidth. This is useful when you want to download a large file file, such as an ISO image:
$ wget -c -o /tmp/susedvd.log --limit-rate=50k
Use m suffix for megabytes (–limit-rate=1m). The above command will limit the retrieval rate to 50KB/s. It is also possible to specify disk quota for automatic retrievals to avoid disk DoS attack. The following command will be aborted when the quota is (100MB+) exceeded.
$ wget -cb -o /tmp/download.log -i /tmp/download.txt --quota=100m
From the wget man page:

Please note that Wget implements the limiting by sleeping the appropriate amount of time after a network read that took less time than specified by the rate. Eventually this strategy causes the TCP transfer to slow down to approximately the specified rate. However, it may take some time for this balance to be achieved, so don’t be surprised if limiting the rate doesn’t work well with very small files.

Use wget With the Password Protected Sites

You can supply the http username/password on server as follows:
$ wget --http-user=vivek --http-password=Secrete
Another way to specify username and password is in the URL itself.
$ wget 'http://username:[email protected]/file.tar.gz
Either method reveals your password to anyone who bothers to run ps command:
$ ps aux
Sample outputs:

vivek     27370  2.3  0.4 216156 51100 ?        S    05:34   0:06 /usr/bin/php-cgi
vivek     27744  0.1  0.0  97444  1588 pts/2    T    05:38   0:00 wget http://test:[email protected]/pub/linux/kernel/v2.6/testing/linux-2.6.36-rc3.tar.bz2
vivek    27746  0.5  0.0  97420  1240 ?        Ss   05:38   0:00 wget -b http://test:[email protected]/pub/linux/kernel/v2.6/testing/linux-2.6.36-rc3.tar.bz2

To prevent the passwords from being seen, store them in .wgetrc or .netrc, and make sure to protect those files from other users with “chmod”.

If the passwords are really important, do not leave them lying in those files either—edit the files and delete them after Wget has started the download.
G) Download all mp3 or pdf file from remote FTP server:
Generally you can use shell special character aka wildcards such as *, ?, [] to specify selection criteria for files. Same can be use with FTP servers while downloading files.
$ wget*.pdf
$ wget*.pdf
OR$ wget -g on*.pdfH) Use aget when you need multithreaded http download:
aget fetches HTTP URLs in a manner similar to wget, but segments the retrieval into multiple parts to increase download speed. It can be many times as fast as wget in some circumstances( it is just like Flashget under MS Windows but with CLI):
$ aget -n=5 command will download soft1.tar.gz in 5 segments.

Please note that wget command is available on Linux and UNIX/BSD like oses.

See man page of wget(1) for more advanced options.

42 comment

  1. I remember there was a way to download all .txt file from a URL however I haven’t been able to find it. You mention that wget http://../../*.txt will do it however it generate an error saying:
    HTTP request sent, awaiting response… 404 Not Found

  2. Yes. It can be done provided that remote ftp/web server support this feature. Due to abuse/security or to avoid server load most remote system disables this feature.

    Try to use -i option as described above to fetch list of files from text file.
    wget -i list.txt

  3. if some site not giving ( showing its full URL )and also talking http passwd and user login than
    how to get the data directory and how can i use these with wget command
    plz mail me on my id i cant remember this site name .

    1. It will work . if it shows certificate error , then use –no-check-certificate .
      for example . wget –no-check-certificate
      some https server or even http server will allow download only if you are logged in , in that case you need to log in in your browser , have to get the cookies and use that cookies in wget..

  4. Very interesting thanks for the information on Wget my favorite way of uploading to my dedicated servers. Be it an over complicated and complex way but my favorite none the less

  5. Is there a way to specify the filename wget writes to?
    Would the following do the trick?
    “wget $options $url > customfilenameiwant.otherextension”,

  6. Nice hints!

    What I am missing (and still searching for) is –> how to limit file size of a file to download? One of my current bash scripts is ‘spidering’ certain sites for certain archive files. IF encountered a 5GB *.zip file, It would happily download it, which I don’t want. So: what would be a good practise to limit downloads to, say, 2 MB?


  7. Hi, i need to retrieve a file from an http site, which asks for username and password to access the site. How can i retrieve the file using wget? please guide me.

  8. Hello, i am not able to use wget in my ubuntu system.. whenever i try to download anything for example,
    sudo wget
    what i get is
    –2009-09-18 10:15:15–
    Connecting to||:80… ^C
    The above is same for any website.
    i am able to do sudo apt-get install and this is the evidence that i am connecting to the internet. But for wget case i am not able to. Is there any config settings that i need to do?

  9. multi mirror download of a single file trick
    wget -c “url1” -O image.iso
    then use dd to fill zeros to the other chunks
    dd if=/dev/zero of=image2.iso bs=1024 count=100000
    dd if=/dev/zero of=image3.iso bs=1024 count=200000
    dd if=/dev/zero of=image4.iso bs=1024 count=300000

    then on multiple terminals do
    wget -c “url2” -O image2.iso
    wget -c “url3” -O image3.iso

    now merge
    dd if=image2.iso of=image.iso bs=1024 count=100000 skip=100000
    dd if=image3.iso of=image.iso bs=1024 count=100000 skip=200000


  10. I am trying to download data from my server using wget.

    I send the login details and store the cookie. I then rotate through n numbers to copy the data into a new file. The saved file is always blank i.e 0kb file size.

    My website stores data on individual pages e.g.: (i have changed my actual site name to “mywebsite”)


    I am trying to rotate through the numbers 50 to 1 and extract the data from each page.

    The code I am using is below:


    system (“wget –post-data ‘username=Test&password=Test&autologin=1’ –cookies=on –keep-session-cookies –save-cookies=cookie.txt“);

    $x = 50;
    while ($x <= 1) {
    system ("wget –wait=400 –post-data 'html=true&order_id=50' –referer= –cookies=on –load-cookies=cookie.txt –keep-session-cookies –save-cookies=cookie.txt;);

    system ("wget –post-data 'html=true&order_id=50' –referer= –cookies=on –load-cookies=cookie.txt –keep-session-cookies –save-cookies=cookie.txt;);

    How do I modify the code above so data is pulled correctly and the saved files are not blank? Thank you

  11. wget --http-user=***** --http-passwd=********** -O test.txt -o LogFile.txt 

    Please help me. I want to download data from this website – using above wget command. The problem is how to download the whole one day data with minutes and hour is changing such as starting from 0000UTC-8am(Malaysia local time) 1/1/2010 until 1/1/2010-2350UTC. The data is available for every 10 minutes and time is in UTC format(hhmm).

    yyyy=year, mm=month, dd=day, hh=hour, nn=minute

    so for this example, yyyy=2010, mm=01, dd=01, hh=hour, nn=minute, user=mmd, passwd=bmlofeb2011

    I hope anyone can help me how to download the data.

  12. I want to change the owner of the file with the wget command, what ever the filles wiil be downloaded needed to change the owner.

  13. The easiest way to avoid changing owner/group of download files via wget is to use sudo (run process as other user) or set the download path to a mount point with specific uid/gid (e.g. uid=henry,gid=henry)

  14. Hello,

    how can i use the wget command if the following situation arises

    1) when connected to a particular server the wget command will download the file. for this if we set a crontab then at the mentioned time the download will happen. but at time if there is a problem with the server and is not getting connected the wget command will overwrite the existing file with a dummy file there by loosing the contents
    Is there any way to prevent this?? i.e. when not connected to the server the wget command should not create or overwrite.

  15. When I use wget to download 5 files from server using a script it sends 1 GET request and waits for server to respond then sends the 2nd and so on. I want the GET to be sent simultaneously irrespective of the response from the server at the same moment. How to do this? Any insights? Thanks

  16. You can write a small shell script such that for 5 different files u write 5 wget command inside the shell script and finally run the shell script.

  17. how can extract file are in the format of and , so is this possible to bzip2 and unzip a these files in at time command,

  18. And what when it comes to get the list of links contained in a web page ?
    $ lynx -dump -listonly file > html-list


  19. hi
    and how can i (most easyli) get files from sourceforge?
    this “automatic closiest proxy” selection is awful!

  20. hi,
    I have to download a .txt file on daily basis through our one of server, these all exercise i have done manualy. and save the file in to unix system. i want to create a automate script who can download and save file into unix directory.

    Thanks in advance

  21. I am using the wget command to pull the files from external website. It executes successfully but, I see a file which has html code rather file that I am expecting.

    Logs from the command execution…

    $ wget --ftp-user=xxxxxxx --ftp-password=yyyyy ""
    --2016-04-20 11:31:25--
    Resolving, 2607:f220:41e:1016::113
    Connecting to||:80... connected.
    HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 302 Found
    Location: [following]
    --2016-04-20 11:31:26--
    Resolving, 2607:f220:41e:1016::164
    Connecting to||:443... connected.
    HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
    Length: unspecified [text/html]
    Saving to: “”
        [                                                                                                                             ] 9,947       --.-K/s   in 0.1s
    2016-04-20 11:31:26 (98.5 KB/s) - “” saved [9947]

    Can you please help me understand what I am missing using wget?

    Thank you

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