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Let's start first with a few definitions: the word download simply refers to the process of transferring a file from a host computer to your own computer. If you surf the net and get e-mail, you are actually downloading without knowing it! If you use a browser such as Netscape, the web pages and graphics you visit are downloaded and kept temporarily in your cache directory. When you receive e-mail, chances are your e-mail is transferred from your ISP (Internet Service Provider) onto your computer, where you can read it, save it, copy it, print it, or delete it.

Those are two examples of a kind of "unconscious" download--ones that run without intervention from you. When you hear people talking about downloading a file, usually they are referring to the transfer that you initiate.

An upload is the reverse of a download--it's a file you transfer from your computer to another computer (such as the web page you upload to your ISP). Generally you will need to use an FTP (File Transfer Program) to send a file to another computer.

Shareware and freeware are two terms you'll encounter when browsing through file archive sites. Shareware programs are ones that are free to use for a limited time period; after the trial period expires, you are obligated to register the program by sending the program's author the required shareware fee. Freeware programs are free to use for an unlimited time.

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