Authorising Bulk Downloads

Some datatypes held by UK Biobank are too large to be distributed as part of a standard phenotype dataset. Instead, various client programs are supplied which allow Approved researchers to download files piecemeal to their local systems from secure online repositories outside the main UK Biobank showcase system.

To access the secure repositories it is necessary to prove ones identity to the system. This is done by using an Authentication Keyfile which contains the Application ID (on the first line) followed by a 64-character decryption Password. This keyfile is supplied to researchers as an attachment to the email in which their data is announced as being available.

  1. Example Keyfile
  2. Previous Versions

1. Example Keyfile

For example if the Application ID is 1234 and the decryption key is a1b2c3d4a1b2c3d4a1b2c3d4e5f6a44b343d334eef232ce3d3298ba847d2983c3cc23490 then the file contents would be:


On linux systems authentication keyfile should ideally be named ".ukbkey" and stored in the directory from which client downloader program is to be run. The dot-prefix makes the file invisible to casual browsing.

2. Previous Versions

Early versions of the download system used keyfiles which were different in two ways: For this earlier format, the keyfile above would have been:


If a client program generates an error then please check that it is the latest version of the program and that it is being supplied with the current keyfile containing the full Application ID and 64-character password.