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Download Mysteries Solved

Downloading is a skill

Downloading is a simple process. 

When you download, you copy a file from another computer to your computer by way of a wire or even a wireless connection. Compare downloading with the delivery of the morning newspaper. Your paper is delivered with a toss, and it lands on your front step. (If the paper delivery person's aim is good.) When you download a program from the Internet, it's delivered to your computer. The toss is performed when you click a link that starts the download process. 

Visualize the newspaper flying through the air. Now visualize a stream of ones and zeros speeding over the wires from the server computer to your home or office PC. 

The newspaper is a bundle of stories. The program you download is a bundle of files. Each file makes up the entire program you download. A program can be anything - software, an electronic book, or a game.

Compression saves time and space

Files are usually compressed to make them smaller, and to decrease the time it takes to download them. There are different types of compression programs that create compressed files. One of the most popular is the zipped file, or "zip" for short. You'll see a dot and three letters (".zip") after the name of the file; for example, "".

Learn more about zip files by using our video tutorials. They're on the main tutorials page. 

Downloading links are easy to find

Download prompts come in all shapes and sizes. A download prompt can be a button such as this: If this were a real linked image, you could click and start a download. Or, it could be a text link that appears like this: Download Now

In any case, when you click a download prompt, the first thing your computer asks is, "What you want to do with the file?" 

What do I do with the download?

Should it be opened from where it lies? Or should it be saved on your computer's hard drive? Let's use a few pictures to help explain.

If you use the Internet Explorer browser, and click a download link, a dialog box appears with questions about what you want done with the file: 

All skills are perfected through practice

Your options: Run the program, or Save the program to your hard disk. Always choose the Save option. You want the file located on your hard drive, right? The Netscape browser skips the preliminary questions and goes straight to the Save As dialog box as shown below. 

Making sense of the Save As  window

Regardless of which browser you're using, the Save As dialog box or window is ultimately where you'll do your business. This is the key screen you need to be aware of. Here's a screen capture of the Save As window, with basic instructions added in blue font.

Understanding the Save As dialog box is the key to success

This example assumes you're downloading a program with the name "tutorials.exe" and that you're saving it to your computer's desktop.

Never lose another downloaded file!

Take the following steps to assure you do not misplace the file on your hard drive. You can always move files off of your desktop later during organizational activities. I always suggest downloading to your desktop because the new download is so easy to find there. You simply cannot lose the file if you follow this tried and true method. Here's the step by step:

Step 1. Be sure the Save in location says Desktop

Step 2. Click the drop down button This is a drop down box selector and select Desktop if anything other than Desktop appears in the Save in field. A field is simply an area in which you can enter text by typing from your keyboard.

Step 3. Remember the name of the file. Write it down on paper if you need to.

Step 4. Click the Save button to begin the download procedure. Remember the newspaper delivery illustration above? Well, this is where the paperboy tosses the news! When you click Save, you'll see the dialog box below. It will look similar -- (you'll see the beginning of the process instead of a 50% completed one like this):

You're making progress with the Newbie Club

Step 5. When the process finishes, you'll see a new window that confirms the success of your download and displays some particulars for your viewing pleasure. It looks like this:

Practice downloading right now! Get the FREE ebook I created that gives you a slide show on how to set up a download system. Click here to download the e-book. It works with Windows 98 and higher, and Windows 95 if you have Internet Explorer version 4.0 or higher installed. Continue reading this page while you wait for the download to finish.  -Tom Glander

Attention to details is pretty important

Notice the information provided in the dialog box above:

Saved: tutorials.exe from This tells you the name of the program you downloaded and the web site you got it from.

Downloaded: 2.26 megabytes in 1 minute, 8 seconds. That's slow for my cable modem. (Must have been heavy traffic at the server, since download speeds can easily hit 200 kilobytes, or 200 thousand bytes on a good day.)

Download to: C:\Windows\Desktop\tutorials.exe (this is also known as the path to the file). You can write this down if you want to.

Transfer rate: 34.0 kilobytes per second (KB/Sec). That's the speed of the download at the time it finished. You'll see the rate vary as the download progresses, depending on traffic and other factors.

If you want to open the program and have it installed immediately, click the Open button. The program you've downloaded will be opened and installed. If it's an e-book, the e-book will be opened. 

If you click the Open Folder button, then the folder into which you've sent the downloaded file will open.

Click the Close button to send the dialog box to bed. That is, to close it. You can then open the program you just downloaded by locating it on your desktop (if you indeed gave Windows instructions to save it there) and double clicking to start its unzipping, unpacking, or opening routine. 

Create easy-to-remember folder names using 
the Save As dialog box

Organize your downloads by creating specific folders for them. Click the create new folder icon--it looks like this: . In the resulting window, create a new folder. Follow these steps:

  • Type the name of the folder you want to save your download into. Use a descriptive name.

  • Press Enter to save the folder name

  • Click Open to open the newly created folder

  • Click Save to save your download into the newly created folder!

Here's an example of numerous folders being created in a primary folder named "Downloads." Everything is organized for easy retrieval. If you ever need to reinstall a program, just go to your Downloads folder!

Download to your heart's content

That's really all there is to know about downloading files from the Internet. You simply save the file to a folder location on your computer's hard drive. Then you double click the file to start it.

Big Secret: Nearly every program you download will contain an installation vehicle. That is, the program you are interested in using is packed with another utility that installs the program for you. 

That utility program simply loads all the files that make up the program into their proper folders. It also creates entries in the Windows Registry. And that's the reason you should always use the Add/Remove Programs function found in the Windows Control Panel. 

If programs didn't come compressed, and include installation utilities, you would have huge programs with hundreds or even thousands of individual files. The result would be total chaos. So software developers have adopted a means whereby programs can be distributed with an installer program. Double clicking the file you download starts the installation or unpacking process.

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