GNU Wget is a free utility for non-interactive download of files from
the Web. It supports HTTP, HTTPS, and FTP protocols, as
well as retrieval through HTTP proxies.
This chapter is a partial overview of Wget’s features.
- Wget is non-interactive, meaning that it can work in the background,
while the user is not logged on. This allows you to start a retrieval
and disconnect from the system, letting Wget finish the work. By
contrast, most of the Web browsers require constant user’s presence,
which can be a great hindrance when transferring a lot of data.
- Wget can follow links in HTML, XHTML, and CSS pages, to
create local versions of remote web sites, fully recreating the
directory structure of the original site. This is sometimes referred to
as “recursive downloading.” While doing that, Wget respects the Robot
Exclusion Standard (/robots.txt). Wget can be instructed to
convert the links in downloaded files to point at the local files, for
- File name wildcard matching and recursive mirroring of directories are
available when retrieving via FTP. Wget can read the time-stamp
information given by both HTTP and FTP servers, and store it
locally. Thus Wget can see if the remote file has changed since last
retrieval, and automatically retrieve the new version if it has. This
makes Wget suitable for mirroring of FTP sites, as well as home
- Wget has been designed for robustness over slow or unstable network
connections; if a download fails due to a network problem, it will
keep retrying until the whole file has been retrieved. If the server
supports regetting, it will instruct the server to continue the
download from where it left off.
- Wget supports proxy servers, which can lighten the network load, speed
up retrieval and provide access behind firewalls. Wget uses the passive
FTP downloading by default, active FTP being an option.
- Wget supports IP version 6, the next generation of IP. IPv6 is
autodetected at compile-time, and can be disabled at either build or
run time. Binaries built with IPv6 support work well in both
IPv4-only and dual family environments.
- Built-in features offer mechanisms to tune which links you wish to follow
(see Following Links).
- The progress of individual downloads is traced using a progress gauge.
Interactive downloads are tracked using a “thermometer”-style gauge,
whereas non-interactive ones are traced with dots, each dot
representing a fixed amount of data received (1KB by default). Either
gauge can be customized to your preferences.
- Most of the features are fully configurable, either through command line
options, or via the initialization file .wgetrc (see Startup File). Wget allows you to define global startup files
(/usr/local/etc/wgetrc by default) for site settings. You can also
specify the location of a startup file with the –config option.
- Finally, GNU Wget is free software. This means that everyone may use
it, redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General
Public License, as published by the Free Software Foundation (see the
file COPYING that came with GNU Wget, for details).