CeePrompt! Computer Connection

Originally published Sunday March 16, 2001

Finding Missing Downloads

It's an age-old question for America Online users that's worth revisiting: "I just downloaded a file, but where did it go? Why can't I view it? I checked the Download Manager and My Personal Filing Cabinet and still can't retrieve the file I just downloaded. Help!"

All downloaded files, regardless if you subscribe to America Online or another ISP, always go to a location on your hard disk, by default. The hard disk on your computer, whose proper name is C: , is one gigantic filing cabinet that utilizes a system of folders and subfolders to keep you organized. Understanding and navigating this filing system can be challenging for beginners, but there is a logic to file management that's consistent.

C: is the hard disk and also the root of the filing system. The terms "disk" and "drive" are often used interchangeably, but in reality the disk stores files and the drive reads the files from disk. Folders and filenames are separated from the root by backslashes (\).

Therefore, your files for America Online are located at C:\AOL or something similar such as C:\AOL5.0 All files that are downloaded from AOL go to the Download folder nested beneath the America Online folder, or C:\AOL\Download. A downloaded picture file, for example, would be represented as C:\AOL\Download\picture.jpg This location is also referred to as the file path.

You can easily navigate to the AOL Download folder from your Desktop to view your downloaded files: 1) Open My Computer. 2) Double-click the C: icon. 3) Double-click America Online folder. 4) Double-click Download folder. 5) Double-click the desired file to open. Remember that you must have the correct software installed to open the file. If someone sends you a Word file and you only have Works, for example, you won't be able to open the file.

Quick View Plus by JASC is a good work-around program to solve this problem because it allows you to view files from programs you don't have installed on your computer. This utility by can recognize over 200 file types and also has a built-in program for decompressing zipped files. I find Quick View handy for simple file management as it lets me view and delete files that are no longer useful from one screen. You can try Quick View for free by downloading the trial version from www.jasc.com. The full program sells for $49.

As always, be very cautious about opening file attachments from My Computer or from Quick View. Virus danger remains high with new varieties, such as the latest "Naked Wife", springing up daily. During a recent consult I found two serious executable virus files, PrettyPark.exe and Joke.exe, in the client's C:\AOL\Download folder. The virus files were dormant because he couldn't find them to execute after they were unwittingly downloaded. Lucky thing, because they also slipped past the McAfee virus scan that presumably was up to date.

The three-character extension following a filename designates the file type. As a rule, never double-click file attachments ending with .exe or .vbs Delete them right away. I'd toss out .zip files as well if you're unsure of their origin and intent. If the three-character extensions are not visible as part of the filename, follow these steps to unhide them: 1) Open My Computer. 2) Choose View, Folder Options. 3) Click the View tab. 4) Disable the option "Hide file extensions for known file types".

For non-AOL users, the same rules apply. When you download a file from your e-mail program or the Internet, you're prompted as follows: "You have chosen to download a file from this location. What would you like to do with this file?" "Save this program to disk" will save the file to your computer. Be sure to make note of the file location or else specify an alternate location of your choice to insure you can find the file later. Be vigilant about potential virus-laden files and be sure your virus definitions are current.

Cathi Schuler owns a computer literacy training/consulting company, Cee Prompt! She is a co-author of computer textbooks and can be reached by e-mail at cschuler@uop.edu or cschuler@ceeprompt.com or by mail c/o The Record, P.O. Box 900, Stockton, CA 95201. She is on the Internet at: http://www.ceeprompt.com. Click here for past archived columns.

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