BDFR (Bulk Downloader For Reddit): What You Need To Know

BDFR (Bulk Downloader For Reddit): What You Need To Know

If you’ve ever browsed Reddit, you might have heard about the term “bdfr”. In case you’re wondering what that stands for, bdfr is the abbreviation for ‘Bulk Downloader For Reddit’, and it’s an archival tool that allows you to save Reddit posts and comments, images, and videos locally to your computer. That way, you can browse your favorite Reddit pages without worrying about the content on Reddit being deleted or the internet going offline.

What exactly is Bulk Downloader for Reddit (bdfr)?

BDFR is one of those abbreviations that has become more popular than the actual name itself. BDFR stands for Bulk Downloader For Reddit and is widely considered to be the most popular (and the best) tool to archive certain posts (or even entire subreddits) of Reddit on your computer.

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It is written in the Python programming language and is available for free download as a Python package. Even though using BDFR isn’t as easy as downloading and executing a .exe file, you definitely don’t need to have knowledge of the Python programming language to use BDFR.

What exactly can you do with BDFR?

If we check the official Github page of Bulk Downloader for Reddit, this is what the general description says:

It can be used to archive data or even crawl Reddit to gather research data. The BDFR is flexible and can be used in scripts if needed through an extensive command-line interface.

The term “sources” might need a little bit of clarification, but you have to keep in mind that you can download pretty much anything you want with bdfr. Links, posts, comments, a user list, subreddits, multiple subreddits – you can choose them all and they will all be downloaded to your computer’s storage.

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You can even create your own naming schemes to keep things more organized. Something people over at /r/datahoarders can definitely appreciate.

Something that the developer of BDFR does emphasize, however, is that this software isn’t perfect to create a faithful clone of the Reddit website – although there are some other applications that could help with that. BDFR is simply a tool to download and store all of the raw data that is accessible on Reddit.

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In short, BDFR can be considered a Reddit scraper and archival tool.

What is a Reddit scraper?

With a Reddit scraper, you can retrieve and download (scrape) some or all of the data that is stored on Reddit, a subreddit, or a specific post.

Not only can you download media (such as images, gifs, and videos), but you can also download all kinds of additional information such as posts, comments, upvotes, awards given, time, and date…). You can scrape pretty much all the data that is available and store it on your BDFR.

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Reddit scrapers (and scrapers in general) are often used for archival and academic research purposes. BDFR focuses primarily on the first use case, although you can export data to popular data formats if you’d like.

Who created Bulk Downloader For Reddit?

Bulk Downloader For Reddit is the creation of Reddit-user /u/aliparlakci back in 2018. It has been used by a ton of people, but aliparlacki didn’t have a lot of time to fix all of the bugs and issues.

Luckily, the developer resurfaced about a year ago on the r/datahoarders subreddit and joined forces with Reddit-user Serene-Arc to release an updated and more stable version of BDFR.

BDFR (Bulk Downloader For Reddit): What You Need To Know
Source: GitHub (aliparlakci)

Judging by the activity on GitHub as well as the discussion forum, it appears that the development of BDFR is still very much alive and active.

What are the BDFR commands?

As previously mentioned, BDFR runs through a Python environment and might take a little bit of getting used to. There are a couple of BDFR commands that are most commonly used:

  • Download: With the download command, you’ll be able to grab the resources that are linked in the Reddit source you’ve provided. For example, if you want to save a video from a Reddit page or an entire subreddit, the download command will help you with this
  • Archive: The archival data will store all Reddit-related statistics and data. For example, comments, amount of upvotes, posts, users… You can even choose to store this archival data in JSON, YAML, or XML formats for further analysis or safekeeping.
  • Clone: The clone command is fairly simple: it does all of the above. All data – including media files – and Reddit information will be downloaded to your offline storage.

For more specific and detailed BDFR commands, you can check out the official BDFR GitHub page.

How to install Bulk Downloader For Reddit (BDFR)

First of all, you’re going to need to have Python installed on your Windows, Linux, or macOS computer.

Currently, you’ll need Python 3.9 (or higher) to install BDFR and make it run properly.

BDFR (Bulk Downloader For Reddit): What You Need To Know
A simple Python command prompt. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Once you’ve got Python installed, you’ll want to open a Python terminal or command prompt and run the following command:

python3 -m pip install bdfr --upgrade
Also do keep in mind that BDFR does not update itself automatically as a normal program would. If you’d like to check for updates and install the latest version, simply run the above command again. When you want to start bdfr, you can use the following command:
python -m bdfr

How to view subreddits after archiving them with BDFR

When you download the entire content of a subreddit, for example, it still isn’t exactly easy to retrieve all of that data in an easily accessible method. Luckily, since BDFR is open source and there is quite a large community that surrounds it, there are some ways around that.

For example, Reddit user /u/optimalblip has created a separate GitHub project which makes the viewing process a lot easier, and it’s called BDFR-HTML. You can check out its GitHub page over here.

BDFR (Bulk Downloader For Reddit): What You Need To Know
Source: r/aww (www.reddit.com/r/aww)

How do I download a subreddit?

With BDFR, this is fairly easy to do. Even though it’s best that you familiarize yourself with some of the commands and pathways of BDFR, you can use the following command as a reference:

python3 -m bdfr download ./path/to/output --subreddit Python -L 10

With the above command, adjusted with the subreddit and the output path on your computer, you can download the contents of an entire subreddit via BDFR.

Why would you want to archive subreddits or posts?

You might be wondering what the point is of archiving Reddit subreddits or posts in the first place.

You’re certainly not the first person to ask that question, but it turns out that there are a lot of use cases for this.

For starters – some people just like to hoard data in general. Instead of bookmarking a page or subreddit, what if you could download it entirely instead?

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That way, you’re also sure that the content never gets deleted and is always accessible, even if you have no internet connection.

Additionally, scrapers such as BDFR are also used in academic contexts for research papers and other dissertations.

Reddit also has the tendency to be quite slow to load sometimes and Reddit is even completely offline sometimes, so having an offline backup copy can definitely come in handy once in a while.

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It can also be a very reliable method to view Reddit in one of the countries where Reddit is banned. One of the prime examples is Indonesia’s ban on browsing Reddit, although there are other countries and governments as well who aren’t too keen on Reddit.

Some of these governments try to put the blame on Reddit’s perceived toxic behavior.

If you’re just looking for a quick method to view all of your saved posts, something like BDFR might be a little too overkill for your purposes. We’d recommend using something like Reddit Manager instead.

The added benefit of downloading entire subreddits for offline viewing? You won’t have to deal with annoying Reddit ads.

Summary

Bulk Downloader for Reddit (BDFR) is an easy-to-use and free tool that makes scraping and downloading things off Reddit painless and easy. It’s considered to be the best method if you’d like to download a lot of content from the website for archival purposes.

Paul Alexander

About the author

Paul Alexander has a Master of Science degree in Communication Studies and is a licensed teacher in Flanders, Belgium. He's been passionate about writing and technology ever since he was little and has more than ten years of experience in the vastly interesting world of consumer electronics and social media. He is also the founder of ByteHaps.com.

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