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Definition Distinction: Download

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 by | Filed Under: Quick Tips

A few times lately I’ve run into some definition confusion about the word “download.”  People have said that they’re having difficulty downloading something and when I’ve tried to troubleshoot, I later discovered that they weren’t attempting to download, but doing something else. Mixing up the common usage of a term like “download” can cause some issues when you’re trying to get tech support.

Generally when we say “download” we’re talking about transferring a file from a larger system to a smaller system, usually over the Internet. For example, you might download a song from iTunes, an eBook from Worldstart, an app to your phone from the Google Play Store, or perhaps Norton Security from their site.


When you put a DVD in a slot on your PC to put a program in, you’re installing.  You also might install a program you downloaded from a file on your PC.  If you’re watching a movie on Netflix or listening to a song on Spotify, you’re actually streaming instead of downloading, because no file is transferred from the Internet to your device. If you’re moving data from or to an external drive, that’s usually called a transfer.

Using the right term is important for getting the help you need fast.

~ Cynthia

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One Response to “Definition Distinction: Download”

  1. Markj says:

    Keeping terms straight is so important but some people really struggle with it, I fight this issue all the time. Some folks just don’t seem to care or don’t think it matters in computers, but they would never tell the appliance salesman they need a new washer when what they really need is a new dryer aND tgen blame him. They just don’t/won’t take the time to learn the terms.

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