View Full Version : A General How to Guide to Downloading

02-23-2009, 01:42 AM
A General How to Guide to Downloading

(Written by SoulFX)


Downloading is the act of retrieving a file from a location. This location can be remote (from a site/computer or host other than your own) or local (your network or your own computer). When a user surfs the internet, you are constantly downloading files regardless. These files are HTML pages, JScript files, images, media and other information that the browser displays to you. While this is not notably called downloading, it is ..that is to say that it is downloading all the files needed to show and display the page.

Downloading has come a long way from it's original stance, which was to allow general transfer of small files across a network. What was once meant to transfer a few kilobytes of data (that's about the common text or word document), evolved into gigabytes of data being transferred internationally from one corner of the globe to the next. This inadvertently mean that speed would definitely be factor, and so faster internet connections came along. Whatever provoked it, you are here today reading this tutorial most likely just interested in the common know how and most likely how to get the downloads from Invision.

Now not only are there many ways to download files (i.e. the various methods: P2P, Http, FTP, etc), there are also many programs that each have their own functionality and advantages. This tutorial will briefly discuss them and help you get an understanding on how to use them. I know that this tutorial most likely won't be frequented, but I've written it as a few of our users now and then will wonder how to download X program, and this way I can just refer them to this tutorial.

So lets begin.

HTTP - The Mother of All Protocols

Well seeing as how you're on this page, you most likely know how to surf the web and use a web browser - so there will be no need for me to teach you how to. HTTP is a protocol designed for the Internet, it uses port 80 (FYI) and is used to transfer webpages, graphics, images from internet sites. HTTP or hyper text transfer protocol is how the majority of files are downloaded all over the net, whether it be an html page or a 3 TeraByte file. Skipping all symantec's I'll cut to chase, http is how many downloads on this site will be downloaded. Using a normal browser, like Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator (or FireFox), you normally just click a link and in seconds to minutes (depending on your internet connection, the servers proximity to your location, and various other factors) the file will begin to download.

There are few utilities that can be used when downloading from http to better manage your files and to increase the speed at which files are downloaded. These of course are called 'Download Managers'. They all have varying features, some useful - some not so useful. It's really up to you whether you use one or not, and the results vary from computer to computer, and region. Here is just a few of the nearly 1000's.


Download Accelerator (DAP) - Download Accelerator (Plus) is one of the most popular download managers on the web. It boasts the ability to speed up your downloads and help you pause/resume them as well. I personally have used this, and found it to be quite good. However that was when I was using dialup. After turning to broadband (high speed) internet I realized that it didn't make any difference. So if you are on dialup use this, as it works quite well, but if your on broadband (cable/dsl/t1/isdn), it just serves as a download manager.

FlashGet - Flashget or formerly known as JetCar, is one of best and most popular download accelerators and download managers on the net, maybe more so than Download Accelerator. Much like DAP, it can speed up downloads but it does so by splitting the file into several parts and download each part of those files separately and than putting them together again in the end. Note, that on certain servers and on certain sites (mainly download sites - if we ever do we'll have a warning telling you), you can get banned or temporarily suspended from downloading because the host thinks your trying to hammer (the act of consistently and repetitively trying to connect and/or download from a host). So read the notes a site gives. Other than that, Flashget is great!

Net Pumper - Net pumper boasts the ability to download from Anti-Leech sites (read below on Antileech to learn more). The free version contains spyware (spyware are bits of code that gather information on what sites your surf, what you download, what you do online and offline and are intrusive to your privacy). The advantage to this is that you don't have to use the Anti-leech plugin that many hate, and that you can pause/resume the downloads and even speed up the uploads. But it does contain spyware (which doesn't affect your pc, but it may track what you download or what sites you are on when you are downloading). Not to say that DAP or flashget may not have spyware. ;)

Go-Zilla - This is probably the last one I'll list, Go-Zilla is much like DAP. During the early years of the Internet go-zilla was extremely popular. At the end of every download, you'd be informed it was completed with a loud Jurassic Park T-Rexish roar. It can do all the regular download manager things, but it was one of the originals.

Anyways, that's just a few download managers. It's beyond my knowledge, of why the creators allow users to choose skins for their download manager (it's only a download manager - not your desktop), but whatever sells I guess.

Now the next type of download method is the Antileech plugin.

Anti-Leech - Protecting the Source from the User

Many wonder why we use Anti-Leech, and the answer is simple. To stop you from leeching it. Now before you get insulted, what I mean here is that the Internet is place of much mystery, anyone can be anything or anywhere. Your greatest ally could be your greatest foe. As a webmaster we can never tell who is loyal and who is going to stab you. In the same way, we can't tell who will just download our files, and who will post the links on their own site or another forum. Leeching hurts everyone, not just the site. By a file being leeched, it prevents you the user from getting the files because the more people who download the file, the slower it downloads and the faster it gets deleted. In addition, the site that really uploaded it loses the interest to upload because its files are being stolen and thus slows down its uploads or stop uploading overall. Most sites that steal links and post it on their site, often require you to sign up for some sort of service (generally adult in nature) and lie to you stating that they uploaded the file.

Anti-Leech is a small plugin that will allow you to download the files, but will not let you find the real source of the files. This is the best alternative to restricting access to files and only allowing trusted users download the files. The Antileech system works quite well, and we have a full tutorial on how to use it under the Invision tutorials section. Antileech is some what in limbo between http and ftp, since it can download from both these sources.

FTP - The File Specialist Protocol

Designed and fortified with the intent of transferring files, FTP or File Transfer Protocol (port 21) is used for file transfer only. In order to access ftp you'll need an ftp client, and while certain browsers such as Internet Explorer offer you the ability to navigate ftps with their browsers, it is usually slow at doing so. A good ftp client is what you'll need if your serious about it, it should have the ability to download files - optionally resuming/pausing, and the ability to queue files so they can be subsequently downloaded. A few FTP clients are listed below:


Smart FTP - SmartFTP is possibly a good freeware ftp client, with the ability to upload/download, pause/resume and all other ftp client doodads - including a bandwidth monitor. I strongly recommend this as it's good for your average FTPing.

WSFTP - This is a popular - yet painfully bland ftp program. I really find this program unattractive as it's versatility is limited by its design.

Flash FXP - yet another freeware and very popular ftp program with all the functionality an ftp program should have, but allows FXPing (the art (well its not really an art) of transferring files form one ftp to another).

Well those are just a few ftp programs and they should be a good start to using FTPs. An FTP address usually looks like this:

[url=][/url] or [url=ftp://user:pass@]ftp://user:pass@[/url]

* The first ftp address is a regular ftp that doesn't ask for a username or password, while the second ftp requires a username and password. The "user" part is the username it can be anything and is usually assigned to you by the owner of the ftp so that you have access or special access to it. The "pass" is the password unencrypted, this is the special part that ensures that you are who you say you are (it checks to make that your password matches your username - so if you have the right username, but not the right password you don't get in!). The is the real address of the host. It is an IP (internet protocol), which all users have - only they've used a special program to allow them to run the ftp. That is just about all you need to know on ftps, the rest you can learn from your FTP program and the general interface of the program.

We move on to P2P programs.

P2P - I'll share with you, If you'll share with me

P2P or peer 2 peer programs are based on the concept of "I'll share what I have, you share what you have". The concept is a bit idealistic as human nature is to take without giving back - a survival of the fittest type approach. These programs usually connect to a network or other users on a remote port and attempt to search the database of other users to see if the file you want is available with other users who are currently connected to the network. If it finds the file with another user(s) it begins downloading the file, however if it finds the download and it's being downloaded by other users it adds you to the queue. However if it doesn't find the file you're looking for, it may display an error page, or give you an error message that it can't find what you're looking for. These programs work overall by users sharing what they have on their computer (limited to whatever you wish to share, it could be anything from your entire hard drive to the contents of a folder or file. But by sharing something, each user makes the database of files a bit stronger. The following is a list of P2P programs that are currently available today, I'm sure you've heard of a few of the deceased or revamped ones like Napster:


Kazaa - One of the biggest P2P programs after the closure of Napster by the RIAA, Kazaa was one of the most popular P2P programs, however past RIAA sweeps have made its fanbase nearly decimated by 70%. A few stragglers still use it, and it is still quite good for music files, but virtually dead for anything other than audio files.

WinMX - a somewhat popular P2P program that boasts endless sharing of files, with no spyware. However nearly ever search for a file on it's network will result in pornography and other disgusting and illegal movies. In my opinion, one of the worst clients. It's GUI (interface) is really primitive and lacking.

Bitorrent - Probably one of the quickest P2P programs to launch, it's main focus is the equal distribution of files and the art of sharing while downloading. It works by a user downloading a special file, known as a 'torrent'. You download the 2kb or less torrent file and open it in your torrent client. This will start the process of downloading, where you are connected to other users and must upload 3 kb to download 3 kb. In doing this, you will have uploaded the file (at least the file size) to have downloaded it. We have a full tutorial in our tutorials section, visit it to learn more. I really like BT, because it encourages sharing and only leechers dislike this program.

E-Mule - This is a popular p2p program, mostly in Europe (Germany). It works much like many of the other P2P programs, but is quite slow. It has one of the best range of downloads, you can find close to everything here. But downloading it is a real problem, as finding what you're looking for and actually getting it are two different things. Downloads are slow, unresponsive and usually are queued (meaning that one user has a file, and there are several users all waiting to download that one file - you could end up having to wait days-to-weeks just to start downloading the file to realize that the source has disappeared). Good but not very effective.

Those are just a few P2P programs, there are hundreds more. And probably even more waiting to take the place of one of these P2P programs. If you're not willing to share (upload to others) than there aren't many options available to you, as most new P2P programs require you to do a bit of uploading and sharing before you can get files yourself.

Invision Downloader - the Brain Child of Invision

It just wouldn't be complete, without listing my own little creation, The Invision Downloader. The Invision Downloader stems from the need for a way to quickly transfer files without much input and struggle from the end user. And with the security leaks in the Antileech plugin, it's just a lot easier to create a tool that I and users can use to get the files. So along came the Invision Downloader. Using encrypted databases, the Invision Downloader lets you preview a file before you even download it. On our downloads page is a 5-8 lettered keyword. It can be random letters and numbers like 'S94f49'. Using the Invision Downloader, and entering this keyword into the invision downloader, the downloader will retrieve information on this download and show you how many files there are, what the game looks like (screenshot), a description of the game, what you need to install it and other important information. With a click of a button you can easily download the files and install it, a feat that compared to the other downloaders is absolutely amazing (if I should say so myself). You can read a full tutorial and guide in our tutorial page, that will tell you how to use the Invision Downloader and get just about anything with it.

Lets conclude this tutorial, with the conclusion!


Well that's about all you really need to know, the rest you can just pick up or read about in help/faq files. In the history of file transferring there have been may forms and methods to send and recieve files, and you can bet there will be tons of new and practical innovations in this field.

Credit: SoulFX