Do you ever find yourself surfing the Internet, looking for software to complete a task you need to do, or to get something accomplished faster than you are now? I'm sure we all have at least once, and if you haven't, well, that's inevitable; eventually we all will do it at least once. If you use your computer regularly to get things done, there are loads of different software packages out there than can simplify even the most complex tasks.

Many times you will come across software companies that are very well-known and their outstanding software has won several awards, and to top it off, the features or benefits of the software seems to fit what you are looking for. However, if you are on a budget like me, then chances are you will want to download the software first to make sure that it is exactly what you need to get the job done. The unfortunate thing about it is that not all companies offer software downloads of their programs. So now you have to make the decision to take the chance and go ahead and purchase the software, or you can look around a bit and see if there is any other software downloads out there that may fit the bill.

Some of the places you can check to download software is the manufacturers' Website; like CoffeeCup Software, or you can look at some of the software library sites on the Internet like Tucows or These are all reputable sources for downloading software.

If you are new to the Web, or have not downloaded anything before, downloading software and testing it out can be fun! There are many programs out there that can suit your needs and perhaps it can also help you to define more of what you maybe looking for; you may download a program that has a particular feature that you didn't think of which could be very useful to you.

When downloading software from the Internet there are some things you should keep in mind. Here is a brief listing of the most important Do's and Don'ts on downloading software from the Internet:

  • Do - Make sure that you read the installation instructions. Some may require that you uninstall the previous versions before installing the new one, or you may need to have another type of software installed.
  • Do - Make sure that you download software that is compatible with your operating system. There may be several different versions available for download; such OS X, Windows or Linux. If you don't download the correct version, you could run into troubles or the software may simply not work; leading to frustration and wasted time for you.
  • Do - Backup your system just in case something doesn't go right. If you are using Windows XP there is a rollback feature that will allow you rollback your system to a previous restore point; make sure that you've created a restore point before downloading.
  • Do - Make sure that you scan the file before opening it even if it is from a trusted source. Typically you can do this by right-clicking the file and selecting scan from the pop up menu.
  • Don't - Download software through a file sharing program, you have no idea what you may or may not be getting.
  • Don't - Install software that you don't own. There are many sites out there that distribute registered software which violates the license agreement, downloading from these sites can lead to trouble.
  • Don't - Download software through e-mails unless it is from a trusted source. Most software companies do not send their software as attachments in email.
  • Don't - Download from unreliable sources. To avoid getting bad software you should download software from a trustworthy site; such as the developers Website or a download software archive library.

How to Download Software

When you have found the right software and you are ready to download, the site you are visiting will more than likely have a download link in which you can click on to start the software download process. After you click on the software download link, a box will pop up and you will be given the option to Run, Save or Cancel the download. It is very important that you choose the Save option so that you can save it to your computer in the place that you want, and so that you can run it at a later time if you wish to. If you choose run, it will download the file to a temporary folder and automatically start the installation.

When you click on Save, you will be prompted to save it in a specific directory on your computers hard drive. You should download it into a directory on your hard drive so that after you download the software it will be easier for you to find. The simplest way I have found to do this is to create a download folder on the desktop and download the software into that folder. Or you can simply download the file directly to your desktop. This way, you know exactly where the file is and it can save you time from trying to hunt down the software on your computer.

Once you've downloaded the software, you can then double-click on the .exe file and it will start the installation process. Do understand though that some of the software you download may also be in a .zip file. A .zip file is a file that has been compressed to make it smaller in size so that it is faster for you to download. In this case you will need to have unzipping software installed on your computer to unzip the file first, and they you can run the installation file.

During the installation process, you will be asked questions as to where you want to install the software, what program group you want to add it to etc. Unless you have a personal preference where it installs, I would suggest sticking with the default settings.

Once you are done installing, and depending on the software, you can choose to have a desktop icon created so that you can simply click on that to start the program. The desktop icon will allow you to quickly start the program and save you the steps from hunting it down on the Start menu.

The best place to start with your newly downloaded software is the help file. The help file will walk you through the steps of using the software, and many help files often have a Quick Start Guide included so that you don't waste all your time reading and can start using the software right away.

Removing Software

Once you've installed the software and decide that it's not quite what you are looking for you can uninstall the software from your computer. There are a few different ways you can do this.

First, and probably the easiest way to remove software from your computer is to use the uninstall feature that is built into the software. Typically, the uninstaller is installed as an option in your program group. You can find this by clicking the Start > Programs > Program group name > Uninstall.

If the software you installed doesn't have an uninstaller, you can use the add/remove programs option in your control panel.

If you have a program that you like and decide to purchase it, you should uninstall the demo version that you have on your computer. Running two different versions can cause your program not to run properly and causes conflicts in your system.

Sometimes, companies will give you access to download the full version, while others may offer to upgrade your trial version that you already have installed. Normally, the upgrade is done with a registration key sent to you by the company.

By following the simple outline above for downloading software from the Internet, you should have loads of fun testing out different software applications without harm to your system.

Final Note

Downloading software from the Internet can be a little scary at first, because you really have no idea what to expect. Once you have downloaded a few programs and start to gain experience, you can really have fun testing out many different software titles that are available to you.