If you have ever bought any digital goods online or even tried to download a freebie, chances are you received a link to a file saved somewhere in the cloud. It can be a Google Drive storage, Dropbox storage, Amazon S3 storage, or any of the similar that exist on the web.
There are too many to list all, of course; since we’re mostly using Dropbox and Google Drive cloud storage, we’ll try to explain these two in a few easy-to-follow steps.
The basics of downloading
What you need to know first is that any file you’ll try to download is almost certainly saved in a compressed format. With the exception of really small or PDF (Portable Document Format) files that can be saved directly, most of the files ment for download are simply too big to be saved as-is. Plus, by archiving you need to download only a singl file (called an archive), as opossed to downloading hundreds of files that this archive may contain.
The most common archive format is ZIP; these files have an extension .zip and Windows (as well as Mac) OS can expand them without any add-on programs. Of course there are many programs that deal with these files, like Winrar, but you’ll only need it if you’re working with zipped files more often or want to create them yourself. You don’t need any of these for simple downloads.
When you download the file in question, you’ll save it on a local drive somewhere. Let’s assume you saved it in a new folder, called DOWNLOADS (how innovative…). What you see in Windows Explorer is something like this (Mac users please excuse us, we’re not using Macs…):
What you need to do is to expand the file. If you have a program like Winrar installed, you can just double-click on it and it will open in a Winrar view. From there, just follow the links and un-zip them all or one by one, as you wish.
The second option is to simply right-click on the file and choosing Extract here from the menu. This will extract the content of the compressed file directly into the folder you saved it in.
As you can see, I have Winrar installed; I actually suggest you install it too, have you not already, because it’s just more convenient than the Windows system ways.
After that operation, what you get is all the files contained in the archive extracted and ready to use by Windows and any of the installed programs you have (depending on the file type, of course).
In this particular case, we received a number of PDF files that we can directly open now by double-clicking on them.
There could also be programs (.exe files) and any other types of files included in th downloaded file, including folders.
Downloading from Dropbox links
Different cloud stirage systems have different interfaces, so they could pose a little challenge if you’re not familiar with them.
The most important thing you have to know is that you do not have to worry about the patform itself – whoever saved the files and gave you the donwload link did that part already. So basically what you have to do is click on the button (or link) and you should be redirected to a download page of the platform where it is stored.
Note: what I’ve found to be a good practice is always right-clicking on the links provided and then choosing the Open in a new tab option. This way, the original page remains open, you can always just close the new tab and follow another link. Clicking the Back in the browser can get you lost.
Dropbox will show you the separate files that are included in the archive, like this.
From this window, you can directly click on any of the files and if they’re not protected in any way by the issuer they should open in your browser. But usually you want to download them all and use them locally. For this, you have to click the Download button in the upper right corner and then choose the Direct Download option.
Note: the links that are being distributed are usually public links, so you don’t have to sign in to Dropbox to download. That is, unless you have your own Dropbox account and want to save the files to it. You can do it too, by choosing the Save to my Dropbox option from this menu.
This will open the standard Windows dialog, where you have to choose the download folder and click Save. Now you should have the file downloaded and you can proceed as usual.
Downloading from Google Drive links
The process is mainly the same, but as stated the interface a Google Drive link will open is different.
Usually, it look like some kind of popup window (although it is not), and looks something like this (just part of the screen):
If the file you are downloading is bigger, that Google Drive might just inform you that the file is an archive and it cannot be scanned for threats automatically. Don’t panic, Google just makes sure you understand that, you can still download the file by following the link provided; the link reads Download anyway.
Staying with our example, you see there is a folder included in the archived file. That does not matter for now, you have to download it first. You can do so by clicking on the Download icon in the upper right corner of the screen and choosing the Download option.
The little circle on the far right will contain your profile picture, provided that you’re logged in your Google account.
Again, standard Windows dialog will open, and you can proceed by choosing the download folder and clicking Save.
I hope you found this article helpful.
In our business, we use either Dropbox or Google Drive storage, or we link directly to the vendor’s download pages in case of affiliate business. On their pages you’ll almost certainly meet the same kind of links, unless it’s a membership site.