Tips on how to safely download files from the internet

Tips on how to safely download files from the internet

The internet is a wonderful place where you can get different kinds of information by just doing a few clicks and typing. Aside from that, it allows you to download various forms of media for the sake of your entertainment or personal use. However, downloading also has its risks, which include virus infiltration and potential hacking.

Fortunately, these problems can be avoided if you practise safe downloading. Here are some helpful tips on what you can do to protect yourself from online harm:

  1. Downloading from trusted sites 

The best place to get your files is to only visit trusted websites. Here is how you can verify whether a site is safe and trustworthy:

  • The web address contains ‘https’ because it indicates that the site uses secure communications.
  • Checking the website URL will make you notice some typographical errors or elements that should not be there in the first place.
  • Seeing too many spam advertisements and windows on the website is a dead giveaway that a website is not safe.
  • A website should contain contact information and other details about the owner.
  • Using browser tools and plugins can help you detect if a website is safe or not.
  1. Checking a website’s reviews

Downloading can be related to shopping because you need to know if the site you are visiting is legit or not. So, you would look up online reviews to see people’s experiences from the downloading site they went to. For this, you can go to online community discussion websites such as Reddit or Quora.

You can search for the site reviews on these places and the results will show you thousands of feedback from different people. However, if you haven’t found anything, you can post a question that encourages other users to provide their opinion on the downloading website you found. If their responses are mainly positive, then take it as a good sign for you to use that website.

  1. Running your antivirus software

Your computer should always have anti-virus software installed because this serves as your main protection against viruses. Aside from that, this can scan whether or not the website you are visiting is safe. It also has a feature that checks if the file you are downloading has a virus.

Using your anti-virus software is easy because it runs automatically in the background. When downloading, a prompt will always appear to indicate that the software is checking for viruses. You will see an ‘all clear’ message, which shows that the file is safe to download. 

  1. Never click random download buttons from a website

Whenever you are downloading, the website you are currently viewing would sometimes have random buttons sprawled across the web page. These can mislead you because they make you think that clicking such a button will lead you directly to the file. So, the trick here is to not click anything in an instant. Additionally, you should look for the download button that resembles the layout of the website. 

  1. Peer-to-peer is great but always be on your guard

Sharing downloading websites or software is great because everyone is helping one another to get the files they need. However, this can pose a potential problem for your computer, especially if you keep accepting recommendations from strangers. As a solution to this, you should always verify whatever people share with you.

  1. Using a VPN

Safety is breached because of your exposed IP address, which identifies the device you are using as well as your current location. This makes you prone to hacking, phishing and other risks that can happen from the internet. Fortunately, you can hide your IP address by using a virtual private network or VPN. This has an encryption feature that hides your details, making you invulnerable to online attacks. 

When you are downloading files, it is best to always use a VPN. This can prevent hackers from seeing your location and other private information. 

  1. Staying vigilant

In reality, the internet does not have absolute privacy and safety. There will always be threats and risks that are out of your control, so the next best thing is to stay vigilant. Accepting this fact will make you attentive to everything you do online. With this said, safe downloading will motivate you to create a long routine that can prevent viruses or hackers from corrupting your computer files.

  1. Backing up files is a must

It is a rule of thumb for computer owners to back up their files in different locations now and then. This is because you would never when your security will be breached, so it is best to be prepared at all times. 

In case you experience such a situation, you need to be ready to format and wipe every file inside your computer. Doing this can eliminate the possibility of data stealing and you can easily spot if any viruses are remaining. 

To back up your files, here is a step-by-step guide you can follow:

  1. Collect all the important files on your computer and put them into one folder
  2. Open the folder then start sorting your files into different categories, such as:
    1. Pictures
    2. Videos
    3. Documents (sort them per file type: word, PowerPoint, excel sheet, pdf)
    4. Recordings
    5. Applications
    6. Installers
    7. Miscellaneous.
  3. Once done, use a hard drive with a large capacity (usually 2 to 3 terabytes) and plug it inside your computer.
  4. Let your computer recognize the hard drive first so that you can open its page. 
  5. Drag the main holding folder into the hard drive’s folder. This will initiate a file transfer, and the length of time will depend on how many files you are copying.
  6. You will know when the copying is complete because a notification will pop out of the screen.
  7. Now that all your files are copied into your hard drive, you should transfer them into other computers that you own. If you do not want to do that, just make sure that all your files on the hard drive will not be corrupted.
  8. Your intuition will always be your first mate

In life, your intuition or gut feeling is the one that tells you if there is something wrong or weird going on. This usually turns out correct and when followed, you will be safe from any kind of harm. With this in mind, you should keep using your intuition as a first mate whenever you download files from the internet.

When you go to a website, ask yourself if there is anything sketchy about it. If your intuition is sensing something, take that as a sign to leave the site and look for a trustworthy one. Aside from that, your intuition can prevent you from doing anything abrupt while you are browsing the web. This, in turn, will lessen the chances of you getting hacked or receiving a virus from the internet activities you do.

  1. Download only from trusted sources

One of the main rules in internet etiquette is double-checking if your source is trusted or not. You can do this by checking if it has a high number of downloads and is supported by a decent amount of positive reviews from the people who have used it. While this is good, you should be aware that there could be bots that pretend as humans. This trick is used to fool you into thinking that something is trustworthy.

When you see that a certain torrent file does not have enough downloads, take that as a sign to avoid it. If you happen to proceed, you could be downloading a virus that will slow down your computer’s performance.

  1. Never provide any kind of personal information

There is one thing that you should always remember: downloading a file from the internet does not require you to provide any kind of personal information. If you ever come across this kind of experience, that is already a dead giveaway that the website is a potential phishing or hacking attack. In this case, you might encounter questions that ask for your birthday, your favourite colour or your mom’s maiden name. Whatever your answers for these will be used to hack your passwords.

  1. It is best to download files using a computer

When downloading files from the internet, it is best to do it with a computer. This device can translate better than phones or tablets because of its multiple unique features. Aside from that, visiting a downloading site via mobile limits the actions you can take. This means that you are more likely to click anything you see on screen, which can be dangerous for you.

On the other hand, computers let you see the whole picture, making it easy for you to check which buttons are fake or whatnot. With this device, your downloads will be safer because of the antivirus software, and there will not be a breach of information happening to your phones.

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