Downloading From the Internet

Author: Vic Laurie, Ewing SeniorNet Computer Literacy Center, April, 2004
Revised: Joel May, Ewing SeniorNet Computer Literacy Center,

Part I - What's Available for Downloading?
Part II - Downloading Images From the Web
Part III - Downloading Entire Web Pages
Part IV - Downloading Selected Text from the Web
Part V - Downloading Files from the Web
Part VI - Download Times
Part VII - Opening the Downloaded File
Part VIII - Installing the Downloaded File
Part IX - Links to Downloadable Freeware and Shareware Programs

Part I - What's Available for Downloading?

  1. Pictures and Graphics (Examples: National Geographic Photography, Google Images)

    1. Galleries
    2. Exhibits
    3. Current Events
    4. Indeed, any image you see on the Web

  2. Information

    1. Financial (Examples: Managing Your Finances on a Computer)
      1. Stock and investment reports
      2. Bank and credit card transactions and balances
      3. Personal credit reports
      4. Tax forms and booklets

    2. Travel (Examples: Expedia, Travelocity, MapQuest)
      1. Airplane and train schedules and reservations
      2. Lodging and dining information and reservations
      3. Maps and driving directions
      4. Tourist information -- attractions, history, culture

    3. Health and Wellness (Examples: WebMD, The Merck Manual, Hospital Compare)
      1. Information on diseases and symptoms
      2. First aid and emergency treatment
      3. Drugs and pharmeuticals
      4. Availability and performance records of doctors, hospitals and nursing homes

    4. Computer Related (Examples: Ewing SeniorNet, Vic Laurie's Web Site, WiredGuide)
      1. Articles
      2. tutorials
      3. Slide shows

  3. Books and Education (Example: Bartleby.com, Project Gutenberg)

  4. Computer Software (Example: C|Net Download.com, also see Links to Downloads below)

    1. Windows XP Security Updates
    2. Games
    3. Audio & Video
    4. Internet Tools (Net Phones, Pop-Up Blockers, Chat Software, Browsers)
    5. Business Software
    6. Device Drivers
    7. Spyware and Virus Tools
    8. Photo and Image Editing Software
    9. Desktop Enhancements (Screensavers, Wallpaper, Themes)
    10. Home and Garden (Calendars, To-Do List Managers, Garden Design and Planting Schedules)

  5. And much, much more!
Part II - Downloading Images from the Web

It's so easy that it's absurd! (But note that copyrights might apply)

  1. Find the image you want to download
  2. Right-click on it
  3. Choose "Save Image As..." from the pop-up menu
  4. The "Save Image" dialog box opens:

    SaveAsDialogBox

  5. In the "Save As" drop-down list, choose the folder and/or subfolder in which you want to save the image:

    SaveAsDialogBox

  6. In the "File Name" text box either accept the name already there or give the image a new name. NOTE: You must also include a file extension (typically the one already appended to the file)

    SaveAsDialogBox

  7. When everything looks right, click on the "Save" button

    SaveAsDialogBox

  8. The image has been saved to your hard drive. And that's all there is to it.

Part III - Downloading Entire Web Pages

  1. First, we'll talk about downloading an entire web page.

    Web pages are usually an assembly of a number of files, but the entire page (ads, graphics and all) can be downloaded and saved on your computer for future reference. (Note that some complicated pages may not download properly.) Follow these steps to download an entire web page:

    1. Open the web page in which you are interested
    2. Go to the "File" menu of the browser and chose "Save Page As..." In the "Save As" Dialog Box proceed as described for saving Images:
      1. In the "Save As" drop-down list, choose the folder and/or subfolder in which you want to save the image:
      2. n the "File Name" text box either accept the name already there or give the image a new name. NOTE: You must also include a file extension (typically the one already appended to the file)
    3. Then look for the "Save as Type" drop-down box near the bottom and choose "Web Page, Complete

      SaveAsWebPageComplete

    4. A copy of the Web Page with all the associated images and ads will have been saved to your hard drive.

Part IV - Downloading Selected Text from Web Pages

  1. :Let's take a look at how to download ALL OF THE TEXT from a web page without downloading any of the images. This can save space on your hard drive when most or all of the images on a web page are not important for your purposes (advertisements, etc.),
    1. Open the web page in which you are interested
    2. Go to the "File" menu of the browser and chose "Save Page As..." In the "Save As" Dialog box, proceed as described above:
      1. In the "Save As" drop-down list, choose the folder and/or subfolder in which you want to save the image:
      2. n the "File Name" text box either accept the name already there or give the image a new name. NOTE: You must also include a file extension (typically the one already appended to the file)
    3. Then look for the "Save as Type" drop-down box near the bottom and, this time, choose "Web Page, HTML only

      SaveAsWebPageText

    4. A copy of the text on the Web Page without all the associated images and ads will have been saved to your hard drive.

  2. Finally, let's see how to download only PART OF THE TEXT from a web page. This is useful when you want to save just a small part of the web page (for example, just one section of a set of driving directions or just a recipe from a cooking page). This technique differs from that used earlier:
    1. Open the web page in which you are interested
    2. Use your mouse to highlight just the part of the text you want to save.
    3. Go to the "Edit" menu of the browser and choose "Copy" (or right-click on the highlighted area and choose "Copy" from the pop-up menu)
    4. Open a word processor or a text editor and click on the blank document to create an insertion point (a blinking vertical line)
    5. Go to the "Edit" menu of the word processor or text editor and choose "Paste." The portion of the text that you highlighted will be placed in the document and can now be saved on your hard drive,

Part V - Downloading Files from the Web

  1. You will frequently want to download files from the Internet. These files may be software programs you want to try out, updates or enhancements for some of your existing software, or replacements for programs that have become corrupted. Examples were given early in the section titled "What's Available for Downloading? (Computer Software)."
  2. To start the process, you must open the web page in which you are interested, then find the "Download Link" on that page. This is sometimes not as easy as it sounds. Here are some examples, can you find the download link on the web page?
     
  3. When you click on the download link using Internet Explorer, a "File Download - Security Warning" Dialog Box will appear asking whether you want to Run or Save the file. NOTE:Depending on what browser you are using this box may have a slightly different appearance, but the information provided and the decision requested will be the same.

    DownloadSecurity

    This dialog box will also contain infomation on the name of the file you are downloading, its type and size, and the numerical address of the source web site. Depending upon the kind of file you are downloading, it may also contain the following warning:

      "While files from the Internet can be useful, this file type can potentially harm your computer. If you do not trust the source, do not run or save this software" This is followed by a link labeled "What is the Risk"  

    If you are not sure of what is going, click on the "What is the Risk" link for more information.

  4. Now you must decide whether to Run or Save the file. Just what is the difference between these two choices?

    1. If you choose "Run," the file will be downloaded into your computer's memory and executed ("Run"). It will be saved on your hard dirve in a Temporary Folder. Use this option for software updates
    2. If you choose "Save," the file will be downloaded and save on your computer's hard dirve in a location you choose. It will therefore be available to you if you ever want to access it again.
    3. When you choose "Save," a new dialog box will open asking you to specify where and with name the file is to be saved. Start by using the drop-down list box labeled "Save In" to choose the location on your hard drive where the file should be saved. NOTE: It is important that you remember where the file was saved so that you can find it again. You should consider designating a special folder to hold all your downloaded files such as a folder named "Downloads" in "My Documents."

      DownloadSave1

    4. Then, in the drop-down list box labeled "File Name," enter the name you want the file to have (you will usually simply use the name provided by the source of the file).

      DownloadSave2

    5. When your choices have been made, click on the "Save" button.

      DownloadSave3

    6. The file will have been saved to the chosen location on your hard drive.

  5. There are some special file types for which the downloading process differs. These include Microsoft Office files (Word [.DOC], Excel [.XLS], Powerpoint [.PPS or .PPT] and Access {.MDB]) and Acrobat Files [.PDF]

    1. To download such files, first click on the download link and, when their contents are displayed on the screen, go to the File menu and choose "Save As"
    2. Then proceed to choose a "Save In" location on your hard drive and a "File Name" for the saved file as described above.
    3. When your choices have been made (AND REMEMBERED), click on the "Save" button

Part VI - Download Times

Before Downloading a file, it is a good idea to estimate how long the download will take.

  1. The length of time it takes to download a file is a function of many things, including:

    1. The size of the file (displayed in the "File Download" Dialog Box) is normally given in kilobytes (1000 bytes abbreviated as K or KB) or megabytes (1 million bytes appbrviated as M or MB).
    2. The speed of your connection to the Internet (a direct phone connection is the slowest; cable and DSL are much faster)
    3. Traffic conditions on the Internet (number of users active at any one time)

  2. You can make a rough estimate of how long a download should take from your connection (assuming Internet conditions are good)

    1. First, you must know the speed of your connection to the Internet

      1. A dial-up telephone connection usually has a speed of about 40 to 50 thousands bits per second. (Note that connection speeds are given in bits, not bytes. There are 8 bits in one byte.).
      2. So, under good Internet conditions, the best download rate for a dial-up connection is about 6 or 7 kilobytes per second (56 kilobits / 8 = 7 kilobytes). or about 360 to 400 kilobytes per minute.
      3. A typical cable or DSL connection will be 30 or 40 times faster (about 7 or 8 megabytes per minute).

    2. The length of time for a download is determined by dividing the size of the file by the speed of the connection. Thus, under good Internet conditions on a standard dial-up conncection, a 1 megabyte file should take at least 143 seconds or 2 1/3 minutes to download (1,000,000 bytes to download at 7,000 bytes per second),
    3. Of course, these ideal conditions are seldom met. As a rule of thumb, you should expect a download speed of about 3 1/2 or 4 minutes per 1 megabyte.
    4. A typical cable, DSL or broadband satellite connection will be 20 or 30 times faster (about 8 to 10 seconds per megabyte).

  3. During a download, Windows will display the transfer rate (or download speed) in kilobytes per second, and also the estimated time left to complete the download (these numbers will both jump around based on the download speed at that instant).
  4. Very busy sites may be much slower than the estimate given by your connection speed.
  5. Also, Internet conditions may be a bottleneck

    1. During hours of heavy Internet usage (e.g. early evening) downloading may be impractical because of the amount of Internet traffic
    2. Not only do low rates of transfer cause the download to take a very long time, it might also cause the connection to be dropped before the download is completed.
      1. There are programs called "Download Managers" that handle these dropped connections by reconnecting and resuming the download where it was broken off.
      2. Some also break the program to be downloaded into several segments and download the segments simultaneously, thus decreasing download time.
      3. A few such programs are:

    3. Sometimes more than one download site is offered (these are often called "Mirror Sites") and sometimes one is much faster than another.
Part VII - Opening the Downloaded File

The actual downloading of a file from its home on the Internet is only part of the process. Downloading a file and saving it to your hard drive as described in Part V above is the equivalent of:

  1. Going to a store (finding the web site with the file you want to download)
  2. Buying a gift (clicking on the download link)
  3. Wrapping it (specifying where to save it and with what name), and
  4. Handing it to the person we want to give it to (saving it to the hard drive)

Now we have to unwrap it to see what it is, and begin to use it. In this section we will discuss the "opening" of the package and in Part VIII we'll discuss how to prepare to use the file you've downloaded (Installing the Downloaded File).

Downloaded files can be of many different types, but the most common are executable files (these typically have a file extension of .EXE) or compressed files (these typically have a file extension of .ZIP). They require different "unwrapping" techniques. In either case, the process begins by opening the folder on the hard drive in which you saved the downloaded file.

  1. Executable files (those with a file extension of .EXE) can be activated by simply double-clicking on the file name (or single-clicking and then clicking on the "Open" button)
  2. However, there are two different kinds of executable files: Ordinary executable files containing just one file and Self-Extracting executable files containing a number of files.

    1. If your executable file is of the first kind (containing just one file) it will open and begin to execute. You can proceed to the discussion of Installing the Downloaded File in Part VIII below.
    2. If your executable file is a Self-Extracting file, when you activate it (by double-clicking or single-clicking and then clickin on the "Open" button, you will be presented with the now familiar "Save As" Dialog Box
    3. Choose a location on your hard drive to save the files and click the "Save" button to have the action take place.
    4. The program represented by the extracted files is now ready to be installed on your computer.

  3. If, on the other hand, the file you've downloaded is compressed (with the extension .ZIP) it will require some special treatment. You'll have to "unzip" it before you can use it.
  4. Windows XP has a built-in tool for unzipping files.

    1. As always, start by opening the folder on the hard drive in which you saved the downloaded file.
    2. Double-click the zipped file.
    3. In the window that opens, click Extract all files.

      The Extraction Wizard opens.

    4. Click Next.
    5. In the Select a Destination panel, select the location where you want the folder to be placed, for example, a special folder you've created to hold your unzipped files named "Unzipped Files.". Click Next.

    6. In the Extraction Complete panel, select Show extracted files. Check Finish. The unzipped files appear in a new window.

    7. The program represented by the unzipped files is now ready to be installed on your computer.
  5. If you are using a version of Windows older than XP (i.e. 95, 98, ME or 2000), you will have to download a file containing a utility designed to unzip files. There are many such on the web, but a very good, easy-to-use, FREEone is Stuffit Expander. Follow the instructions in Part V above to download it and the instructions in Part VIII below to install it.

Part VIII - Installing the Downloaded File

  1. Now we finally arrive at the "Preparing to Use" portion of our lesson. To review:

    1. We've learned how to find the downloadable files on the Internet (going to the store)
    2. We've learned how to click on the download link on the web page (buying the item)
    3. We've learned how to chose where to store it on our hard drive and how to name it (wrapping the gift)
    4. We've learned how to save it to the hard drive (presenting it to the recipient)
    5. We've learned how to extract or unzip the files within the download (unwrapping the present)

  2. We now turn to the really fun part -- installing the new program on our computer (using the item)

  3. Depending on the type of file you downloaded, you will either

    1. If it was a simple executable (.EXE) file, double-click on it (or single-click and then click 'Open")
    2. If it was a self-extracting executable (.EXE) file, browse to the folder in which you placed the extracted contents (in Part VII above) then find a file with the extension (.EXE) and double-click on it (or single-click and then click "Open")
    3. If it was a zipped (.ZIP) file, browse to the folder in which you placed the extracted contents (in Part VII above) then find a file with the extension (.EXE) and double-click on it (or single-click and then click "Open")

  4. A series of dialog boxes will open. Their sequence and contents will vary from case to case, but their purpose is identical: to determine where in your computer to install the program and how to configure it

    1. The first thing you'll see is a dialog box welcoming you to the installation process and warning you to close all other running applications. The reason for this is so that you don't lose any data in the event of a problem during the installation. It's not essential that you close all other programs, but it's not a bad idea either. Click "Next" to continue.

    2. Next comes the EULA (End Users License Agreement). This is where, as a result of paragraphs and paragraphs of legalese, your rights to own, complain about, or sue for damages as the result of the program are taken away from you. Go ahead and click "I Agree." There's nothing you can do about it.>/li>

    3. In some cases you will be asked whether or not you want to install particular components of a program. This is usually phrased as a choice between "Standard" and Custom" installation. Choose the default "Standard" unless you have a very good reason not to. Then click "Next"

    4. You will also be asked where on your hard drive you want the program installed. Once again, the default choice is the best unless there is a good reason to choose otherwise. Click "Next" again.
    5. Sometimes you will be presented with a summary of your choices for your review before you are asked to install the program. Other times, as in the case with this example, you will be presented with a button labeled "Install." Click on it to install the program.
    6. The installation process will be documented in one form or another (for example a moving bar across the screen or a list of activities displayed along with a percentage of completion)
    7. When the installation is complete, you may be asked to restart your computer to complete the process. If so, do it. Otherwise you are ready to run the program.
    8. Click on Start > All Programs and find the program you just installed by name. Click on its name to run it.
    Part IX - Links to Downloadable Freeware and Shareware Programs

    First, some definitions:

    1. Freeware: Software that is available totally free and without charge, usually over the Internet.
    2. Shareware: Copyrighted software that is available free of charge on a trial basis, usually with the condition that users pay a fee for continued use and support.

    The sites listed below are only a few of the many available on the Internet. A search engine will turn up hundreds more. Many of these sites also offer shareware that comes with a time expiration. Some may require a sign-in.

    Sites with programs available for downloading:

      1. Web Attack
    2. Freeware Publishing
    3. Freeware Home
    4. Free Downloads Center
    5. No Nags
    6. TuCows
    7. TuDogs (requires sign-in)
    8. Karen Kenworthy's Powertools
    9. System Utilities
    10. Jumbo Downloads

    Sites with lists of links to Freeware sites:

      1. Freeware Guide
    2. Jim Eshelman's choices of best freeware
    3. Best Freeware as determined by members of the alt.comp.freeware newsgroup

    For additional information on Download sites, see Vic Laurie's list.