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ERDDAP > files > Documentation

ERDDAP's "files" system lets you browse a virtual file system and download source data files. Hopefully, this is a familiar, easy system that you can use with your favorite web browser or, if you prefer, from a command line program like curl.

ERDDAP was designed around the idea that most datasets are huge, so most users just need or want a subset of the dataset that they are interested in (e.g., a smaller geographic area, a smaller time range, or not all of the data variables). But we understand that some users actually do want an entire dataset, or at least the subset which is found in a subset of the source data files. If that's you, then the "files" system may be for you. One advantage of the "files" system is that you can see each file's Last Modified time (Zulu time zone), so it is easy to see if a file has been changed.


To use the "files" system, just click. On any "files" web page, you can:

WARNING! Different Metadata and Variable Names

For datasets available via ERDDAP's tabledap or griddap, ERDDAP administrators can set up ERDDAP to change a dataset's metadata and variable names on-the-fly so that you, the user, see an improved version of the dataset's metadata. But in "files", you will see the original metadata and variable names, so don't be surprised if they are different! If you aren't comfortable dealing with the different metadata and variable names, you might prefer using the dataset's Data Access Form instead.

Similarly, when you request a subset of data from one of ERDDAP's Data Access Forms, you can specify the file type (e.g., .nc, .csv, .json, .mat) that you want to receive in response. Naturally, the source data files available via "files" are just available in one file type. If you aren't happy with the source file's file type, you might prefer using the dataset's Data Access Forms instead.

Not All Datasets

Some datasets in this ERDDAP aren't available via the "files" system. Common reasons include: If the source files for a dataset that you want aren't available, you can email the administrator of this ERDDAP, info at neracoos dot org, to request that they be made available, but there is usually a reason why they aren't already available.


We understand that some users might prefer that ERDDAP offer files via FTP instead of HTTP as is done by "files". Sorry. Hopefully, you'll be able to do what you need to do with the current "files" system.

Command Line Downloads with curl

If you want to download a series of files from ERDDAP, you don't have to request each file's ERDDAP URL in your browser, sitting and waiting for each file to download. Ways to use curl: ERDDAP+curl is amazingly powerful and allows you to use ERDDAP in many new ways. To install curl: Please be kind to other ERDDAP users: run just one script or curl command at a time.

Instructions for using curl are on the curl man page (external link) and in this curl tutorial (external link). But here is a quick tutorial related to using curl with ERDDAP:

View Media Files

For most common image and video file types, the "files" system will now display a '?' icon to the left of the file name. If you hover over that, you will see a popup window showing the image or an audio or video player.

Similarly, for a few audio file types (notably .mp3, .ogg, and .wav), you will see an audio control which allows you listen to the audio file.

These preview features will only work for certain file types, in certain browsers, in certain operating systems. They rely on browser features, so they are largely out of our control.

Alternatively, if you click on the link for an image, audio, or video file, a viewer or player will open in a separate window. (If your browser asks you what you want to do with the file, tell it to handle the media file itself (not via other software), and tell it to remember this choice so that it will be used automatically in the future.)

Byte Ranges

Unlike requests for most of the other resources in ERDDAP, a request for a file from the "files" system may include a "Range" request in the header which specifies a range of bytes to be returned, instead of the whole file. See Byte_serving (external link). This is used by some client software (for example, audio and video players in web browsers) to request chunks of the file instead of the whole file.

Some software that is normally used to read data from a local data file can also work with a remote file if the server supports Byte Range requests. So, in general, such software can work with remote files served by ERDDAP's "files" system. For example, Ferret (external link) and ncview (external link) can read data from local and remote .nc files. However, Byte Range requests are slow and inefficient compared to local access. So the more you work with a remote file, the more sense it makes to download the file so you can access the local file quickly and efficiently.

ERDDAP, Version 1.82
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