Choose the Best: Wget Vs Curl in 7 Direct Aspects

Wget Vs Curl

Wget vs curl has been a classic debate among many users for a long period now. Both of the utility programs are widely used throughout the world. Both of them can be used for common or intersecting tasks. This is why users often get confused on which one to use for a particular job. There are a lot of similarities between the given two programs, but there are notable differences also. Today, we show you the perfect use case for both of the programs and try to differentiate between them so you can choose which one to use as per your requirements.

What is curl?

The official name of curl is cURL which is short for client Uniform Resource Locator. It is a command-line utility program used to exchange data between a client and a remote host server over multiple protocols. Technically, cURL is a whole software project that provides two main products. A command-line tool called curl and an expandable library called curllib. The project is entirely free and open-source and is also cross-platform. Curl comes pre-installed on Linux and windows. The default output of the curl command is the standard output, and the content is not saved in a file until specified in the command.

wget vs curl 
curl --help
curl –help command.
Curl Manual.
Curl Manual.

What is wget?

Wget is also another utility program that retrieves data from the web. Instead of outputting the data on the standard output by default, it saves the data in a file for permanent usage. Wget is more intended towards downloading the data from the web rather than just retrieving or interacting with the remote host. wget is also easier to use compared to curl if downloading is the primary user concern. wget also has a recursive downloading feature, which is essential when downloading directories of data from the web.

wget --help command.
wget –help command.

Wget manual.
Wget manual.

Wget vs Curl

The following table would help should provide a descriptive one-to-one comparison of wget vs curl.

TypeIt is a utility program mainly intended to download data in the form of files from the web.It is a much powerful and expandable utility program that can be used for many purposes.
ProtocolsIt supports HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, and FTPS. Which are mainly concerned with downloading.It supports a large number of protocols. for example- HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, FTPS, STFP, SMTP, POP, and many more.
UploadingLimited uploading support only over HTTP POST.It provides extensible uploading and downloading support with additional features.
LibraryIt doesn’t have any accessible Library, only available as a command-line tool.Curllib is an extensible, cross-platform library provided under the cURL project.
Recursive Downloadingwget provides the recursive downloading feature by using the -r or –recursive option to download the content recursively.There’s no inherent way to download directories recursively.
Default OutputThe output is saved in a file by default.The output is displayed on the standard output. i.e., console.
LicenseIt is distributed under GNU General Purpose License.Open-source license.

Wget vs Curl: syntax

Both wget and curl share somewhat similar syntax. You provide the program command then options(if any), and then you provide the URL of the data or server you wish to download from. One important thing to note here is that in wget, you don’t need to provide the protocol with the URL, while in curl, the protocol should be prefixed with the URL. The following boxes show the syntax for both utilities for downloading an exe file and saving it on the drive over FTP.

Wget syntax

There is no need to specify the output file in the wget command. It does it automatically; however, it can be done manually if needed.

$ wget

curl syntax

In curl, you must mention the output file specified with the -o (output) with the same extension to save and use later. Also, remember to use the protocol prefixed with the URL.

$ curl -o fileno1.exe FTP://

Wget vs Curl for downloading tar file

Tar files are compressed archived files primarily used in the Linux environment. Both of the commands can be used to download a tar file. But if downloading through curl, you would need to specify the protocol and the name and extension of the output saved file, which, if not done correctly, could cause unwanted errors. Therefore to download the tar file, it is better to use the wget command as it doesn’t require any special option to download and save the file. Provide the URL of the tar file with the wget command, and it should be downloaded easily.

Wget vs Curl: When to use what?

In this debate of wget vs curl, common users can easily get lost sometimes. The following points could help the user identify his use case and employ a suitable utility program to match the required needs.

  • If you are downloading a file it is better to use wget.
  • If you want to use other protocols than common ones for client-server interaction then use curl.
  • If the uploading data is large and complex then use curl.
  • If you wish to create a local clone of a website then use wget.
  • If extra seurity authenticaton is required then curl is the right option.
  • If there are recursive directories to download then use wget.
  • If you are usiing an API to interact or retrieve data from the a server then curl should be used.

FAQs on wget vs curl

How to specify an output file for downloaded data using curl?

Use the -O <output_filename> option and the curl command to create and save the output file.

Which is faster, wget vs curl?

Operation speed can not be a measure of comparison between wget and curl as both operate similarly and depend on the network bandwidth.

What is HTTPS?

It is short for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. It is used to transfer web content over a secure encrypted connection.


The wget vs curl debate concludes that “it depends,” it depends on your purpose. What do you want to get done? Based on that you should choose the right one. Wget and curl both are popular utility programs and are helpful in their respective use case. Wget is more oriented towards downloading the data, while the curl is a powerful tool with many protocol support and API call options. In this article, we took a deep dive into the comparison of wget vs curl and suggested some of the use cases for both programs.

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