I'm using the wget program, but I want it not to save the html file I'm downloading. I want it to be discarded after it is received. How do I do that?

  • I'm new to Linux - Would the /dev/null thing work?
    – Ram Rachum
    Oct 10, 2009 at 2:23
  • 3
    So what's the point to download it then?
    – Anonymous
    Dec 7, 2009 at 14:59
  • 1
    @Anonymous I assume to stress the remote server.. If you don't care about the content.. I'd probably use apachebench (ab) though. Dec 6, 2010 at 12:52
  • The point is likely to trigger a webhook (commonly used in IoT / smart home). Jan 4 at 7:45

9 Answers 9


You can redirect the output of wget to /dev/null (or NUL on Windows):

wget http://www.example.com -O /dev/null

The file won't be written to disk, but it will be downloaded.

  • This doesn't save the page, but it send email to me. Also is it possible to disable emailing ?
    – trante
    Sep 7, 2013 at 6:03

If you don't want to save the file, and you have accepted the solution of downloading the page in /dev/null, I suppose you are using wget not to get and parse the page contents.

If your real need is to trigger some remote action, check that the page exists and so on I think it would be better to avoid downloading the html body page at all.

Play with wget options in order to retrieve only what you really need, i.e. http headers, request status, etc.

  • assuming you need to check the page is ok (ie, the status returned is 200) you can do the following:

    wget --no-cache --spider http://your.server.tld/your/page.html
  • if you want to parse server returned headers do the following:

    wget --no-cache -S http://your.server.tld/your/page.html

See the wget man page for further options to play with.
See lynx too, as an alternative to wget.

  • I'm confused. --no-cache in the man page says it causes wget to "send the remote server an appropriate directive (‘Pragma: no-cache’) to get the file from the remote service"
    – Gaia
    Jan 20, 2013 at 19:05
  • It says to the server your client don't want a cached version of the file .. we want to get the very last release of the resource we are requesting for
    – drAlberT
    Jan 21, 2013 at 15:55

In case you also want to print in the console the result you can do:

wget -qO- http://www.example.com
  • 2
    I like this option best. It let's me see what it gets but doesn't save it. The switches are specifically q quiet mode, (it doesn't output progress and other info), and O- (write the retrieved document to console).
    – Octopus
    Sep 30, 2016 at 21:16

$ wget http://www.somewebsite.com -O foo.html --delete-after

  • 1
    Thanks a lot. The --delete-after option is the choice when you have to download recursively but you want to discard the actual content.
    – egelev
    Apr 23, 2015 at 10:57
  • +1 for me, the command is intuitive -- at a glance, I can more quickly comprehend what's going to happen than -O /dev/null
    – fusion27
    Oct 17, 2019 at 11:28

Another alternative is to use a tool like curl, which by default outputs the remote content to stdout instead of saving it to a file.


Check out the "-spider" option. I use it to make sure my web sites are up and send me an email if they're not. This is a typical entry from my crontab:

46 */2 * * * if ! wget -q --spider http://www.rochesterflyingclub.com/ >/dev/null 2>&1; then echo "Rochester Flying Club site is down" ; fi

If you need to crawl a website using wget and want to minimize disk churn...

For a *NIX box and using wget, I suggest skipping writing to a file . I noticed on my Ubuntu 10.04 box that wget -O /dev/null caused wget to abort downloads after the first download.
I also noticed that wget -O real-file causes wget to forget the actual links on the page. It insists on an index.html to be present on each page. Such pages may not always be present and wget will not remember links it has seen previously.

For crawling without writing to disk, the best I came up with is the following

 mkdir /dev/shm/1   
 cd /dev/shm/1
 wget --recursive --relative --no-parent ...

Notice there is no -O file option. wget will write to the $PWD directory. In this case that is a RAM-only tmpfs file system. Writing here should bypass disk churn (depending upon swap space) AND keep track of all links. This should crawl the entire website successfully.

Afterward, of course,

 rm --recursive --force /dev/shm/1/*

Use the --delete-after option, which deletes the file after it is downloaded.

Edit: Oops, I just noticed that has already been answered.


According to the help doc(wget -h), you can use --spider option to skip download(version 1.14).

  -S,  --server-response         print server response.
       --spider                  don't download anything.

  • How does this add to the other answer that mentions --spider ? May 9, 2019 at 4:37
  • It explains what --spider means. Thanks.
    – LonnieBest
    Aug 31, 2020 at 14:32

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