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Using bbcp At NERSC


bbcp is a point-to-point network file copy application with excellent network transfer rates.  The application was originally written for transferring large files of the data-intensive High-Energy Physics community.


bbcp is available on all NERSC systems.


To transfer files into/out of NERSC using bbcp, you need:

1. An SSH client. For most Unix-like systems (Linux//MacOS/Cygwin), the command ssh is sufficient;

2. Download the bbcp executable to your local computer, rename it to "bbcp", and add it to execution search PATH.


All example commands below are executed on your local machine, not the NERSC machine:

The syntax of bbcp is similar to the syntax of scp, with some special options specifying how to run ssh/bbcp.

Get a file from Data Transfer Node:

bbcp -S "ssh -x -a -oFallBackToRsh=no %I -l %U %H /usr/common/usg/bin/bbcp" "" /local/path

Send a file to Data Transfer Node:

bbcp -T "ssh -x -a -oFallBackToRsh=no %I -l %U %H /usr/common/usg/bin/bbcp" /local/path/file ""

Get a file from an outside host to NERSC:

bbcp -S "ssh -x -a -oFallBackToRsh=no %I -l %U %H /path/to/bbcp/on/remote/host" "" /local/path

Send a file from NERSC to an outside host:

bbcp -T "ssh -x -a -oFallBackToRsh=no %I -l %U %H /path/to/bbcp/on/remote/host" /local/path/file ""

Note the difference between "-S" and "-T" option, "-S" means the source (where the data come from), "-T" means the target (where the data goes to).

In case you get the following error or similar, add the "-z" option to your command line (right after bbcp).

bbcp: Accept timed out on port 5031
bbcp: Unable to allocate more than 0 of 8 data streams.
Killed by signal 15.

Pros and Cons


  • Parallel transfer
  • No extra credential needed.  Just need access to the two systems you are trying to transfer files between.
  • Provides some performance tuning options


  • Need to download a client
  • Complicated command line arguments