Downloading Software From The Web

Certainly when you download software programs and run them on your own computer you should use caution. Anything you download over the Internet or an electronic bulletin board system could have a virus… Therefore there are two precautions you should take. First, install virus protection software on all your computers. Second, use only trusted sources from which to download software and files.

– J. Sellers, J. Robichaux; Frequently Asked Questions for Schools; RFC 1941; May 1996.

You can download a wide range of useful software over the Internet. The following summaries provide information on download management, tips, web sites, and other resources.

Management. Some software installs over the web using a custom install application, in which case you should simply follow the directions, and there is very little management required on your part. However, many applications require you to download the software and then install it locally. The following four steps will help you efficiently manage the download process:

  • Download folder. If you don’t already have one, create a folder called Download Files (or something similar) and store it on your desktop.
  • Download software. Download the software into your Download Files folder (see tips below).
  • Decompress. Open up Download Files and double-click the downloaded file. One of two things will happen:
    • It starts up an install program, in which case follow the directions to install the software.
    • It decompress a folder of files, in which case look for a file called “Readme”, and if there is one then double-click it and read it. Then look for the startup file, usually called “setup”, or “install”, double-click it, and follow the directions to install the software. If your system needs help decompressing the file, try using the WinZip or Stuffit applications.
  • Delete. When the installation is finished, unless you want to save the original downloaded file to perform additional installations later, delete the file to save disk space.

Tips. When you click on a link to download a file, some browsers try to load the file into the browser window instead of downloading the file onto your computer. These techniques can help:

  • Internet Explorer. Right-click on the link and select “Save Target As…”, and then save the file to your download folder.
  • Mozilla Firefox. Right-click on the link and select “Save Link As…”, and then save the file to your download folder.

Sites. The following sites are good sources for free software downloads:

Resources. Additional downloading resources are listed below: