Downloading data

Rsync (recommended method)

We recommend that you download data via rsync using the command line, especially for large files using the North American or European download servers.

For example, when downloading files to your present directory (./), use an expression such as:

rsync -a -P rsync:// ./
rsync -a -P rsync:// ./

To download the entire directory (note the trailing slash), use an expression such as:

rsync -a -P rsync:// ./
rsync -a -P rsync:// ./

To obtain a file's location (URL) to use with rsync (rsync:// or rsync://, navigate in your browser to our FTP site at or our downloads page at, and look for your file of interest. To learn more about rsync's options, type "man rsync" on the command line.

Downloading from a web browser

If you are not comfortable using the command line, you can download your file via FTP in your browser at, or from our downloads page at

However, downloading via your browser will be very slow or may even time out for large files (i.e., bigBed, bigWig, BAM, VCF, etc.). Also, Safari does not support FTP inside the browser. When you enter a FTP URL in Safari, you may have to select "Guest" and click submit to log in before a FTP file system will open in a window on your desktop.

FTP from the command line

We do not encourage the use of FTP for downloading large data files. Rsync is a more efficient and convenient transport mechanism, and is therefore quicker and easier to use for downloading our data files. However, here are the command line steps for FTP, should you choose to use it:

$ ftp
Name: anonymous
Password: <your email address>
ftp> cd goldenPath
ftp> cd <assembly name> (e.g., hg19)
ftp> cd <data directory> (e.g., liftOver)

The same ftp connection can also be made to our European server:

$ ftp

To download multiple files from the UNIX ftp command line, use the "mget" command. You may want to use the prompt command to toggle the interactive mode if you do not want to be prompted for each file that you download.

ftp> mget [filename1] [filename2] ...

Or to download all the files in the directory:

ftp> mget -a