Tips & Tweaks: Stop Downloading the Old-Fashioned Way
I dropped by to see my parents the other day and suffered through the agony of using my mother's dial-up account. I couldn't live without a fast connection, but she's convinced me it'd be a waste for her to shell out the bucks for a broadband account. (I'm not dumb; I know where my inheritance is coming from.)
Despite having dial-up, my mother (and some of you) still download videos and files with your slow connection. So this week I'm showing you how to download with less pain--whether you're on dial-up or broadband.
Quick Aside: Dial-Up vs. Broadband
I wondered how many people are still using dial-up. With a newsletter deadline and a strong urge to kill some time, I decided to find some dial-up vs. broadband stats.
PC World's latest survey shows that 79 percent of people landing on our site have broadband access and 19 percent are on dial-up; the rest, oddly enough, answered "I don't know."
According to PC Pitstop, a site that does a dozen or so online diagnostic tests, about 90 percent of all users logging onto its site in 2000 had dial-up connections. Five years later, the numbers are almost exactly the opposite, with 90 percent of all users on broadband.
Also interesting: PC Pitstop says that compared to their users with broadband connections, their dial-up users had slower CPUs, smaller hard drives (and used less capacity), had less RAM, kept their video display set at lower resolution (800 by 600 vs. 1024 by 748), and were somewhat less intelligent. [Note: He made up the part about intelligence. --Editor]
Dig This: This funny and deliciously deceptive commercial drives home a point that you'll enjoy, especially if you're no longer in that coveted 18-34-year-old demographic. [4MB WMV video]
Download the Downloads
If you download lots of videos, or even freeware or shareware files, and you're not using a download manager, that's a shame. You'll see these tools referred to in message boards as DMs. Using a DM can make your computing life easier. That's because, as the name implies, it handles downloading chores for you, such as saving downloaded video files in one folder and, say, shareware programs in another. Instead of having the downloads use up bandwidth and slow down your Web browsing while you're trying to work, you can use a DM to schedule your downloads to occur late at night.
I talked about download managers, and specifically WellGet, the one I use, in my Hassle-Free PC column for PC World's May issue. "Add Zip to Your Internet Connection" will get you up to speed on what else DMs can do, so you'll want to check it out.
I've experimented with many DMs. I recommend WellGet because it's free, easy to use, and--as far as I can tell--free of spyware and adware. I've been using the beta version of the program for more than five months, and it's working perfectly.
You could also try Speedbit's Download Accelerator Plus, also known as DAP, and also available from us. It's funded through advertising, which means the product's free but you have to put up with banner ads within the interface.
If you're using Mozilla Firefox, you already know about its built-in DM. What you may want to do, however, is grab DMExtension. This extension adds nifty functions to Firefox's DM, such as a way to open it in a separate tab and a shortcut to quickly open and close it.
Dig This: Have you ever wondered if you can put a stamp on a football, or a feather duster, and get the post office to deliver it? Stranger things happen at the post office, and you can read about them in the Annals of Improbable Research.
How to Download With WellGet
WellGet's a powerful program, with lots of features. But if you just want to quickly download the videos I link to, follow these instructions. You can use this extra "Dig This" I threw in.
Dig This: What do you get when a monkey swinging from vines teases two tiger cubs? About three minutes of ooohs, ahhhs, and laughs. [8MB WMV video]
- Highlight the link above, then copy it with Ctrl-C.
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- Open WellGet and click the New File icon on the toolbar (it's third from the left). The file name is in the Clipboard and will automatically appear in the New File dialog box.
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- WellGet automatically creates a new folder named Download on your C: drive. If you don't like that location, you can change it in the dialog box that appears when you click New Download.
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- Click OK and the file will begin downloading.
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Quick tip: If you're reading this newsletter online, you can drag and drop each of the file and video links onto WellGet (or any DM, for that matter).