Many visitors to this site are Genealogists first and foremost,
and not computer buffs. As such they are not always conversant with the ways and means
of downloading and using files and applications from the Internet. It is with those
people in mind that I have included this page, to give them help as quickly as possible.
If you are still having problems, please do not hesitate to email me and I will do what
I can to assist - that inevitably takes a bit longer!
Downloadable files on the internet are frequently compressed (also known as archived) in
some way to reduce the download time. The most common type is ZIP,
which you will find on this site. To use them, once downloaded, you must extract them.
One of the best applications for this is WinZip. The latest version of this is available
for download on the Genealogy Apps page. (I do not have any
interest in WinZip!)
RAR is another compression type commonly encountered,
usually in association with larger downloads, which are split into smaller chunks
for transmission and then combined again on download. This method is commonly
found on Usenet, where file sizes for download are kept small so that if a file
becomes corrupted, only that file and not the whole shooting match needs to be
downloaded again. These files have the *.rar extension. If you download a sequence
of RAR files, they will include a file with a *.rar extension, with others being
*.r00, *.r01, *.r02 etc. In this case, to open the full file, once WinRAR is
installed, just double click the *.rar file and the program does the rest,
stitching them all together. WinRAR is available on the
Genealogy Apps page, for those who want it. (I do not have any interest in WinRAR!)
From my statistics, I know that nearly all visitors to this site are using Windows
98/2000/XP and Internet Explorer, therefore I will address that platform. Firstly, it is
best not to download direct to floppy disk, as some have tried. For the purposes of this
article, I assume your hard drive is C:\. Probably the best plan is to create a folder
called C:\Download. Anything you get from the internet can go there in the first instance.
You can always move the files later.
When (left) clicking on files for download, Netscape does not always offer the choice of downloading all file types, but defaults to viewing them on-screen, whereas Internet Explorer gives a choice by default. Therefore, to download such files, Netscape users need to right click and select "Save Link As.." and take care to type in the correct file name before Saving to their hard disk.
Once WinZip is downloaded, as it is a self-extracting zipped file, just double click on it and it will install on your hard disk. Follow its prompts, then reboot your computer. Now, when you go into Explorer, you can right click on a ZIP file in C:\Download and choose a WinZip option that appears on the pop-up menu. Either "Extract to....", when you can tell it where to go....( !! ), or "Extract to folder C:\Download\(filename)\", which will create a subfolder in C:\Download with the name of the file you are extracting and places the extracted file(s) in it.
This is the most useful, as it puts everything together in a folder with the right name. You can always drag and drop that folder wherever you want later, using your right mouse button - or delete it, if you want. Of course, you can also use WinZip to zip your own file, or group of files, to send as an email attachment or whatever, or just to archive them to save disk space. All ZIP files will now be "associated" and have their own icon, which makes them easy to spot when browsing in Explorer.
I hope this short missive will help someone, and if you think it could do with clarifying anywhere, I would appreciate you emailing me about it.