Solve download problems

You're downloading software when suddenly your PC loses the connection to your Internet service provider or your download rate slows to a glacial pace. Don't have a conniption. Next time, try these tricks for downloading software smoothly and quickly:

Resume lost downloads. Few PC misadventures are more galling than losing your connection halfway through a five-hour download. But if the file server supports download resume and you're using IE 4.x or later, just log back on and restart the file transfer. IE will pick up where it left off, even if a week has passed since the disconnect. You can give Netscape Navigator (as well as earlier versions of IE) the same capability with the $US18 shareware plug-in GetRight, available from or our cover CD.

Thwart autodisconnects. If your ISP hangs up after a period of inactivity, you can keep it from disconnecting during long file downloads by setting your browser or e-mail program to check for mail at regular intervals. In Communicator 4.x, select Edit-Preferences. Expand the Mail & Groups category and highlight Mail Server. Click the More Options button and place a check beside Check for mail every and enter 10 (for 10 minutes). Click OK. In Outlook Express, select Tools-Options and select the General tab. Click next to Check for new messages every and type 10. Click OK. In situations where mail checks disrupt the file download, disable the feature.

Connect via FTP. File transfer protocol downloads are faster than HTTP (browser-based) downloads. Use FTP software like CuteFTP (shareware, available from or this month's CD) to connect directly to the file collection's FTP server. Log on as anonymous and type your e-mail address as a password. If you're not sure where to go next, look for a Pub directory, where many software vendors put downloadable software.

Avoid rush hours. The Net suffers rush hours just like highways do and when it does, things crawl. If you've ever gotten the message "There is no response. The server could be down or is not responding," the server may be overwhelmed with download requests. Try downloading at different times of day. If you can't burn the midnight oil, use GetRight to schedule downloads.

Ping it back alive. Sometimes a download may appear to freeze. Occasionally it'll halt long enough that your browser will give up waiting. This problem occurs more often with big downloads and busy servers. If you're baby-sitting a download and notice that it has halted, click Start-Run and type ping server. For example, if you want to check out the status of Eudora's server, type ping Ping, which stands for Packet Internet Groper, is a message one computer sends to another over an IP network to make sure the other system's still alive. If you want to send a regular string of wake-up pings to the server, go to the DOS prompt (Start-Command) and type ping -t server.

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