Download WordPress Backup Fast from (S)FTP via Linux Command Line

From time to time on Codeable I need to clone a site to a VPS with root access in order to diagnose WordPress/WooCommerce performance issues. My internet connection is fast but it’s not as fast as most VPS providers’ network pipes!

When SSH isn’t available so you can use rsync to copy over large files, SFTP can be a handy workaround if the backup archives are on the source server in an (S)FTP directory. This is very similar to speeds using wget to download backup archives but that usually implies that the download backup is publicly available which we don’t always want with GDPR and all!

This tutorial will show you how to download these WordPress backup archives on to your VPS from the live server using the sftp utility on Linux for very fast transfers. I also cover how to use an SSH key for authentication and how to change the port that sftp connects to in case the SFTP server uses a port besides the default 22.

Download WordPress Backup from SFTP via Linux Command Line

Linux has an sftp command that you can use to browse SFTP servers storing your backups.

The basic syntax for sftp is using username as the SFTP user and @ as the IP address or DNS name of the SFTP server


If you are using a different port on the SFTp server you can specify this with the -oPort flag.

Here is an example on WPEngine.

sftp -oPort=2222

You can also specify an SSH private key to use with the -oIdentityFile flag.

Here is an example for accessing a site on Kinsta on port 25556

sftp -oIdentifyFile=/home/wpbullet/id_rsa.key -oPort=25556 [email protected]

Once you have successfully logged in, you will get to this prompt sftp> indicating you are in an active sftp session


Using the cd (change directory) command we can enter the _wpeprivate folder

sftp> cd _wpeprivate

We can now download the backup archive using the get command followed by the filename of the backup archive.

sftp> get filename

It is a very beautiful thing to see a database backup downloading so quickly!

Fetching /_wpeprivate/wp_mytestsite.sql to wp_mytestsite.sql    100%  378MB  34.4MB/s   00:11


Tecmint SFTP Tips
Using a Different SFTP Port
Specifying Keyfile for SFTP