Beginners Guide to Downloading from the Net

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This article is designed for Windows users who are new to the Internet and want to download and keep software from the internet.

  Finding the Software you want
  Downloading the Software
  Installing the Software
  Running the Software
  Registering Shareware

Finding the Software you want

Before I start, I want to describe the types of licensing agreements used to distribute software on the Internet. When you install any software, you usually get one of those long winded legal texts describing what you can and cant do with the software - if you dont click 'I agree', you wont be able to run the sofware. This is the licensing agreement between you and the software author.

The following table describes the 4 main 'types' of software you can find on the Internet
Type of License Description Comments
Freeware Totally Free software. This software is free for you to use as long as you want. They are generally not full blown applications, but they are definetely worth trying out. Be careful that they aren't adware disguised as freeware Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch!
Commercial grade software which you can try before you buy. Higher quality overall because people use the software BEFORE they buy it. You can use this software for a limited time, and if you want to keep it you should register it (see Registering Shareware) Popular due to good, quick support from authors. You also know that what you are buying works.
Adware Advert sponsored software. This is generally free software, except that it displays adverts on your screen while you use it. There is also some monitoring of your usage which can be reported to a central site (this type of licencing is also termed Spyware) Free, but has ads and can invade your privacy
Warez This is stolen, or cracked software. Apart from being illegal to use, if you install this software on your machine there is a much higher chance of getting a virus. Not worth the risk. Get a shareware alternative

There is a lot of good software available for you to download from the Internet, the following is a short list of sites which are a good start. Each site has a search facility and the ability to browse by category - if you can't find what you want in any of these, you can also try the general search engines, eg

Some Places to Find Reputable Software
and of course ...

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Downloading the Software

Ok, so you found what you want - dont click download just yet! Have a look at the minimum requirements - make sure it runs on the PC (assuming your using a PC :) , and that your system has enough RAM, HD space, video card.... You should be ok, but it never hurts to check.

Click the link and your browser should start downloading after a few seconds. It will ask where you want to save the file - pick a directory (eg C:\Downloads\new). Click ok and go make yourself a cup of coffee (unless you have a fast Internet link)

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Installing the Software

Before you do anything, scan the file for viruses - it is very unlikely to get a virus from a large shareware site, but you cant be too careful!
If the file you downloaded is an EXE file, simply doubleclick it to start the install process. Most EXE files will install from there, but there are many which are simply an EXE version of a ZIP file - this means that it will extract all the files to the current directory. This is why it is important to place downloaded files in a separate (preferebly blank) directory

If you have downloaded a ZIP file, double click to open it and extract all the files to a new blank directory. (If the ZIP file doesnt open, you will need to get an extraction program such as winzip. You will have to download the EXE (self installing) version to install Winzip - this can be found from most shareware sites, or try

Once you have the files extracted into a blank directory, you can run the file SETUP.EXE , after you read the README.TXT.

The Setup program will then install the software

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Running the Software

There should be a new menu item in your start menu which allows you to start the program. If not, use Explorer to go to the directory where you installed the software and you should see an EXE file . Make a shortcut from this file to your desktop (To make a shortcut: click and drag the EXE file over the desktop and press the CTRL and SHIFT buttons together before letting go of the mouse button)

If you have downloaded Freeware, you will be able to run this software forever. However if it is shareware you may have a limited time (usually 30 days) to try the software and see if you like it. After the trial period you will have to 'register' the software, or uninstall it.

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Registering Shareware

Registering shareware is as simple as visiting the authors website and registering online with a credit card, or filling out a form and posting in a cheque. The help menu on most programs usually have an about box which shows the website and contact details.

Once you register, the author will send you an unlock key which converts the shareware version you have installed into the full registered version.
At Acute Software you get free updates for a year, and any suggestions/improvements you have to the software are taken seriously. As a paying customer, your requests are top priority, and I will try to get them implemented. This is like get custom software for the price of a normal shareware program.

That's the end of this article, I hope it has been of some use to you. If you have any comments about it, email Duncan at

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