What To Do With Downloaded Files
So you found this new program that all your friends are talking about
while you were surfing the 'net, and finally figured out how to download it onto
your computer. Now how do you use it?
When you download free software or shareware, you're really at the mercy
of whoever packaged the program. Fortunately, most authors follow one of
a few common methods of distributing their wares, which involves bundling
all the files related to their application into one big file and compressing
it down to a smaller size.
The first type of file that results is usually a ZIP
file (one whose name is anything.ZIP). To get anything
back out of such a file, you need a program called PKZIP
or PKUNZIP. Then, from a DOS Prompt, type
If you have Windows 3.1, you may also want to check out WinZip;
for Windows 95 users, get WinZip95.
Please note that all of these programs are shareware: if you use them on
a regular basis, you are expected to purchase a license to use the software.
Another kind of file you may find is a self-extracting EXE file. When
you download it, you can run the program right away, but all you're going
to see is a list of files being inflated, melted, extracted, or whatever,
and then the program ends. These files are really exactly the same as ZIP
files, but PKUNZIP is built into them, so you don't have to have a separate
PKUNZIP to get the files out. PKZ204G.EXE
is such a file.
Whichever type you have, once you extract all of the constituent files
you have reached the end of the common instructions. The rest of the installation
depends on who wrote the program. Look for a file called README,
which is where the author will usually put detailed instructions on where
to go next.
A new kind of EXE file for Windows programs is
one which is not only self-extracting, but it also automatically starts
its own setup program. If you have downloaded such a file you may have already discovered that you only need to double-click
on it from the File Manager or Windows Explorer and just follow the on-screen
instructions from there. Both WinZip
and WinZip95 are
examples of self-installing files.