How to make a mirror of website on GNU / Linux with wget / Few tips on wget site mirroring


Everyone who used Linux is probably familiar with wget or has used this handy download console tools at least thousand of times. Not so many Desktop GNU / Linux users like Ubuntu and Fedora Linux users had tried using wget to do something more than single files download.
Actually wget is not so popular as it used to be in earlier linux days. I've noticed the tendency for newer Linux users to prefer using curl (I don't know why).

With all said I'm sure there is plenty of Linux users curious on how a website mirror can be made through wget.
This article will briefly suggest few ways to do website mirroring on linux / bsd as wget is both available on those two free operating systems.

1. Most Simple exact mirror copy of website

The most basic use of wget's mirror capabilities is by using wget's -mirror argument:

# wget -m

Creating a mirror like this is not a very good practice, as the links of the mirrored pages will still link to external URLs. In other words link URL will not pointing to your local copy and therefore if you're not connected to the internet and try to browse random links of the webpage you will end up with many links which are not opening because you don't have internet connection.

2. Mirroring with rewritting links to point to localhost and in between download page delay

Making mirror with wget can put an heavy load on the remote server as it fetches the files as quick as the bandwidth allows it. On heavy servers rapid downloads with wget can significantly reduce the download server responce time. Even on a some high-loaded servers it can cause the server to hang completely.
Hence mirroring pages with wget without explicity setting delay in between each page download, could be considered by remote server as a kind of DoS – (denial of service) attack. Even some site administrators have already set firewall rules or web server modules configured like Apache mod_security which filter requests to IPs which are doing too frequent HTTP GET /POST requests to the web server.
To make wget delay with a 10 seconds download between mirrored pages use:

# wget -mk -w 10 -np --random-wait

The -mk stands for -m/-mirror and -k / shortcut argument for –convert-links (make links point locally), –random-wait tells wget to make random waits between o and 10 seconds between each page download request.

3. Mirror / retrieve website sub directory ignoring robots.txt "mirror restrictions"

Some websites has a robots.txt which restricts content download with clients like wget, curl or even prohibits, crawlers to download their website pages completely.

/robots.txt restrictions are not a problem as wget has an option to disable robots.txt checking when downloading.
Getting around the robots.txt restrictions with wget is possible through -e robots=off option.
For instance if you want to make a local mirror copy of the whole sub-directory with all links and do it with a delay of 10 seconds between each consequential page request without reading at all the robots.txt allow/forbid rules:

# wget -mk -w 10 -np -e robots=off --random-wait

4. Mirror website which is prohibiting Download managers like flashget, getright, go!zilla etc.

Sometimes when try to use wget to make a mirror copy of an entire site domain subdirectory or the root site domain, you get an error similar to:

Sorry, but the download manager you are using to view this site is not supported.
We do not support use of such download managers as flashget, go!zilla, or getright

This message is produced by the site dynamic generation language PHP / ASP / JSP etc. used, as the website code is written to check on the browser UserAgent sent.
wget's default sent UserAgent to the remote webserver is:

As this is not a common desktop browser useragent many webmasters configure their websites to only accept well known established desktop browser useragents sent by client browsers.
Here are few typical user agents which identify a desktop browser:

  • Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; rv:6.0) Gecko/20110814 Firefox/6.0
  • Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux i686; rv:6.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/6.0
  • Mozilla/6.0 (Macintosh; I; Intel Mac OS X 11_7_9; de-LI; rv:1.9b4) Gecko/2012010317 Firefox/10.0a4
  • Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; Win64; x64; rv:2.2a1pre) Gecko/20110324 Firefox/4.2a1pre

etc. etc.

If you're trying to mirror a website which has implied some kind of useragent restriction based on some "valid" useragent, wget has the -U option enabling you to fake the useragent.

If you get the Sorry but the download manager you are using to view this site is not supported , fake / change wget's UserAgent with cmd:

# wget -mk -w 10 -np -e robots=off
--referer="" --user-agent="Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20070725 Firefox/" --header="Accept:text/xml,application/xml,application/xhtml+xml,text/html;q=0.9,text/plain;q=0.8,image/png,*/*;q=0.5" --header="Accept-Language: en-us,en;q=0.5" --header="Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate" --header="Accept-Charset: ISO-8859-1,utf-8;q=0.7,*;q=0.7" --header="Keep-Alive: 300"

For the sake of some wget anonimity – to make wget permanently hide its user agent and pretend like a Mozilla Firefox running on MS Windows XP use .wgetrc like this in home directory.

5. Make a complete mirror of a website under a domain name

To retrieve complete working copy of a site with wget a good way is like so:

# wget -rkpNl5 -w 10 --random-wait

Where the arguments meaning is:
-r – Retrieve recursively
-k – Convert the links in documents to make them suitable for local viewing
-p – Download everything (inline images, sounds and referenced stylesheets etc.)
-N – Turn on time-stamping
-l5 – Specify recursion maximum depth level of 5

6. Make a dynamic pages static site mirror, by converting CGI, ASP, PHP etc. to HTML for offline browsing

It is often websites pages are ending in a .php / .asp / .cgi … extensions. An example of what I mean is for instance the URL You see the url page is tutorial.php once mirrored with wget the local copy will also end up in .php and therefore will not be suitable for local browsing as .php extension is not understood how to interpret by the local browser.
Therefore to copy website with a non-html extension and make it offline browsable in HTML there is the –html-extension option e.g.:

# wget -mk -w 10 -np -e robots=off

A good practice in mirror making is to set a download limit rate. Setting such rate is both good for UP and DOWN side (the local host where downloading and remote server). download-limit is also useful when mirroring websites consisting of many enormous files (documental movies, some music etc.).
To set a download limit to add –limit-rate= option. Passing by to wget –limit-rate=200K would limit download speed to 200KB.

Other useful thing to assure wget has made an accurate mirror is wget logging. To use it pass -o ./my_mirror.log to wget.

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2 Responses to “How to make a mirror of website on GNU / Linux with wget / Few tips on wget site mirroring”

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    A very good option in case of mirroring websites which had some anti-mirroring rules in robots.txt (e.g. are trying to prevent you to download their content, prevent themselves against data theft) is:


    Just add it to the mirroring wget line, like so:

    wget -e robots=off -mk -w 10 -np --random-wait

    Also a very helpful option in mirroring if you have some anti content stealing integrated rules, that check the incoming user-agent and are filtering user agents such as Teleport or Wget is to use:

    –user-agent option, below is how to mirror a website that has integrated some basic security against content stealing – please don’t use this for evil deeds, but keep the mirrored data for your personal use:

    wget -e robots=off -mk -w 10 -np --user-agent="Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.8; rv:21.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/21.0" --random-wait

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