How to transfer files using command-line from Terminal

Transferring exploits, python scripts, and loading modules are often needed during penetration testing activities. Since the terminal is the tool used mostly, its essential to understand the basics of the file transfer.

A pen tester should be well equipped with different tricks to transfer files from a remote server as well from one directory to another. In this tutorial, we shall discuss different ways to transfer files using the command-line.

1. Python Server

Python is the basic package that comes preinstalled in almost all the Debian based systems. To transfer a file from one machine to another, do the following;


Switch to the directory where your file that you want to transfer exists. Start a simple python server. Enter the following command;

$ python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8080

Now go to the machine where you want to transfer the file. Use the following command to download the file;

$ wget

Remember to replace the IP, Port number & name of the file.


Anything written in python2 will almost always break in python3. So we also look at how to transfer a file using python3.

In the case of python3, enter the following command to start a simple python server.

$ python3 -m http.server 8080

To download the file on the target, enter the following command;

$ wget

Python3 File Transfer
Python3 File Transfer

2. Netcat

Netcat is a powerful utility to transfer files from any remote machine to a local machine. It may not always be installed. You can check whether it exists or not by entering;

$ which netcat
Alternatively, by entering;
$ which nc

Make a netcat server with the following command;

$ nc -nlvp 8080 < evil.php

Now go to the target machine and enter the following to download the file;

$ nc -nv 8080 > evil.php

Netcat file transfer
Netcat file transfer

Replace nc with netcat in the above commands if nc doesn’t work or is not installed correctly.

3. SCP

Secure Copy Protocol is a powerful tool for transferring files. It comes in handy especially when you want to transfer directories. Its also mostly used for file transfers over ssh.

For transfer file via ssh, enter the following command on sending machine;

$ scp -i new.pem ubuntu@
Where -i represents the public key for ssh login, is the file to be transferred and /home/ubuntu is the target directory where we want to save the file.

SCP Remote File Transfer
SCP Remote File Transfer

To download a file from the remote machine, enter the following command;

$ scp root@ /local/directory

SCP Local File Download
SCP Local File Download


You can use this third-party tool to transfer files. It can be useful when you don’t have a machine with public IP, and you still have to transfer the files. The following command uploads the file to the servers;

$ curl --upload-file ./file.txt

To download the file, enter the following command;

$ curl -o file.txt is still under development and may not work always.


Command-line tools give us the ability to transfer files in various ways. They may seem a bit complicated but getting hands-on them gives the capability to easily manage files, especially when a GUI option is not available.

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