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      Some of you may have trouble downloading files from the internet. If you have never done this before it can indeed be quite tricky. You are confronted with a lot of information. You might not know what to do with that, if you're a bit new to computing. So I made you a step-by-step guide showing you the best way to download your files safely from the web.

1. Use a download folder
    Always use a separate download folder. This makes it a lot easier to find the file after you downloaded it. Make a "filebase" folder also. To save copies of all your setup files in, just in case something goes wrong after you installed your software. You could also copy these to floppies or a zip disk. Always make sure you have a backup copy of all your software.

2. How to make a folder
    Double click the 'This Computer' icon on your screen. Select the C: drive by clicking it once. If you only see 'Desktop', double click it, click 'This Computer', and then the C: drive. Then click the drop down menu 'File', 'New', 'Folder', to make a new folder. The new folder will be made and its name 'New Folder' selected. Change its name to 'Downloads' and pres the 'Enter' key. Repeat this sequence for your 'Filebase' folder.

3. Download links
    You start the downloading process by clicking a link, like this one: file.zip. Links are commonly displayed with a different color and are underlined. These normally link you to another web page, another HTML file. A download link however links you to a ZIP file or an EXE file. Clicking such a link will cause your browser to present you with an alert box, much like the one below. Unless you have some special download software installed like Getright or Download Butler. But I don't like these very much anyway, I would advise you not to use them.

download

4. Forcing a Save
    In some cases your browser may be confused about the file type and try to open it anyway. As if it were a web page, an HTML file. All you get is a bunch of weird characters on your screen. This may also happen is the server is not properly configured. Click the 'Stop' button of your browser or press the 'Escape' key. Go back to the previous page by clicking the 'Back' button of your browser. Press the 'Shift' key and keep it down, while clicking the download link again. This way you will force your browser to save the file to disk.

5. Always save, never open
   In any case you should save the file. An HTTP link gives you the opportunity to choose an application, or even directly open the file. Both can by very dangerous to the health of your computer. A virus can easily enter your system. If something goes wrong while opening the file, the file itself will often be lost. You'll end up downloading the entire file again. Some viruses may force you to reinstall all your software. Opening a setup file may crash your system. Or corrupt your browser so you won't have access to the internet anymore. So always save the file, never open it. Don't you even think about it.

6. Saving the file
    Click the 'Save' button in the first alert box. You will be presented a 'Save As' file selector box like the one below.

download

7. Choosing a file name
    In the upmost box you see the name of the 'current' folder. This should be your download folder. If that is not the case, press the downward arrow next to it and select the download folder. Below that box is a larger area representing all the files in the current folder. And below that the name of the file you are about to download. Press 'Save' to save the file.

download

8. Download status
    The alert box will make place for a new one, 'Saving location' which represents the download status. It shows several data concerning the download process. Top to bottom you see the following. 'Location' or URL from where the file is being downloaded. 'Saving', the location on your harddisk where the file will be saved. 'Status', how much of the file has already been downloaded, the file size, and the downloading speed. The bar is visual representation of the downloading progress, with a percentage next to it. Finally a 'Cancel' button to cut off the process and stop downloading. Sometimes the file size cannot be determined, you will then only see the amount downloaded and the download speed.

9. Download speed
    Watch the download speed. If it is smaller than 0.5 K/sec, chances are your download will be corrupted, or halted halfway through. Especially if the download time will last several hours. Sometimes the internet is very busy. Cancel the download and try it again at a different time. Trying a different download location may help too. Late at night (after twelve) or early in the morning (like before seven) are best. Late afternoon (three to five) and early evening (seven to nine) are worst. Rising early in the weekend may help also. Your download speed should be preferably above 2.0 K/sec. A properly installed 33k6 modem will easily do 3.5 K/sec max.

10. Be (very) patient
    Depending on the file size it may last a very long time before your file is downloaded. Software downloads may be very large, many megabytes in size. Patience overcomes all things, even downloading. You could just go and surf the web in the meantime. Wait until the file is completely downloaded, the download status window will disappear.

11. Scan for viruses
    Before you do anything else with the file, make sure you check it with a virus scanner. This may seem tedious, but otherwise you will one day learn the hard way. By the way: do you regularly backup your harddisk? You may end up with just a blank disk if you don't.

12. Finish
    Disconnect your dial up connection, close all unneeded programs, and install the downloaded software. If you like the software, put a copy of it in your filebase folder. If you don't, you'd better just uninstall the software and delete the downloaded file. Happy downloading.

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