Father’s Day is upon us and there’s no better gift for the person who has it all than the sum of human knowledge. Get your dad a download of Wikipedia! It blows my mind that a) all of Wikipedia’s 6.5 million articles can weigh an ounce and fit in a pocket and 2) English Wikipedia is only about 89GB with pictures included and 46GB without. That’s significantly less than a lot of video games (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is over 230 GB!)
Wikipedia routinely makes a dump of its databases available publicly for free, and it explains a few different ways you can download its contents. Like the rest of Wikipedia, many of the tools for downloading are maintained by volunteers, which is very generous and kind but also can mean that certain tools don’t receive the maintenance they need. In addition, some downloaded files are set up for technical analysis — not pleasure reading. So here are some methods for downloading Wikipedia with as little pain as possible using tools from the nonprofit Kiwix.
How to do it
Download with Kiwix onto computer:
- Download the Kiwix offline browser.
- Clicked the 46GB file that contains all of English Wikipedia. On the site, it’s called “wikipedia_en_all_maxi_2022-05.zim” and it’s 89GB. You can also download a version without pictures (it’s called “wikipedia_en_all_nopic_2022-01.zim”) or smaller files with articles in certain topics, such as medicine, or football, or climate change. Just make sure that the file name has “en” in the title, which indicates that the content is in English.
- When the file downloads, you can open it in your computer’s Kiwix browser and it’ll be a clean Wikipedia interface. Voila!
Download with Kiwix onto mobile devices:
2. Choose the file you’re interested in (there are smaller files like “Best of Wikipedia,” topic files like “Mathematics,” or the entire encyclopedia) and download it. Ta-da!
There are various other ways to access offline Wikipedia. If you want a more involved project, you can use a Raspberry Pi to provide a local Wikipedia hotspot that multiple devices can access. If you want a flash drive with a bunch of XML data and don’t care that it’s not particularly readable, you can go that route.
A few different offline Wikipedias have existed over the years. There was Wikipedia on DVD in 2006, which was similar to Microsoft’s Encarta encyclopedia. And from 2009 until 2014, the WikiReader was for sale, but now you can only find it on eBay or resale shops.
Wikipedia aims to provide knowledge to the world and it allows for offline downloads in order to reach the 4 billion people without internet access. The online encyclopedia has made it to outer space, to tiny villages in South America, and to rural classrooms in West Africa.
It’s unlikely that Wikipedia will disappear any time soon — the Wikimedia Foundation has plenty of funds to support its five servers in Virginia, San Francisco, The Netherlands, Singapore, and Texas. But you might as well be safe rather than sorry because perhaps you’ll want to access the list of mammals displaying homosexual behavior or the article on hotel toilet paper folding or the list of nicknames used by Donald Trump when you’re away from the internet.