Downloads? What are downloads and how do I do them?

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This is a little technical, so we will try to keep the jargon to a minimum. Here goes … Digital Scrapbooking relies upon the use of graphics in order to create layouts and in today’s digiscrapVERSE there are an extraordinary number of kits to choose from, good, bad, and indifferent. These kits, though, are on the Internet not on your computer. So how do you get them onto your computer for use? Simple: You Digital Scrapbooking them. This FAQ post in our Learn Digital Scrapbooking series explores what downloads are, how to make downloads happen and what to do if you have problems, plus simple suggestions about file storage, backup and organisation, and tips for newbies.

 

A Brief Walk Through About What Downloads Are

First things first, let’s walk through the process.

Imagine that you have been window shopping for a while and finally made your purchases or decided to download a free kit.

A download is simply the process of transferring a copy of a file from a website on the Internet onto your computer’s hard drive.

Most digital scrapbook designers package their kits into a compressed data package, called an archive file. Usually, but not always, in archive file is saved in the format of a .ZIP file.

An archive file format makes it easy to transfer large files or groups of files in one piece, as a single file, containing one or more compressed files inside it. The archive file format is kind of like the shell or wrapper around the large file or group of files within. This offers an ideal way of making large files smaller and keeping related files together ~ the perfect way of packaging a digiscrapping kit together.

 

How to Start Downloading Kits

Often digital scrapbook kit downloads are triggered simply by clicking a text link or an icon or an image as indicated.

This direct method is the same for both kits that you may have bought as well as for FREEbies. Paid kits, however, usually have some sort of security process involved in order to be able to download them. Most of the time purchased kits are downloaded via an account dashboard and usually with a unique download link code generated by the shopping cart software.

This is the method used by us here at Anita Richards Designs for how all our Shop downloads are handled:

choose kit > checkout > download via account dashboard

 

Sample Layout

Picking Olives - A Digital Scrapbook Layout recalling a single moment as my younger son reached to pick olives from the tree at the end of the path at the house where we were boarding.
Digital Scrapbook Layout: Picking Olives

Picking Olives

This photograph of my younger son picking olives in the backyard was kind of an awkward one to scrap. The lines on the fence in the background were in conflict with the angle of the path and the slant on the trunk of the olive tree.

So rather than try correcting the image I decided to create a visual “v” on the page with the angle of the background papers leaning in the opposite direction.

Being an olive tree I was inspired by the label on a bottle of olive oil that I used to buy and teamed that with a simple olive leaf vine patterned set of flair resulting in a beautifully textural page nicely capped off with the shine of the flair.

 

Problems with Downloads

Sometimes, especially with slow internet connections, achieving a complete and uncorrupted download may be problematic. One way around this is to install a download manager.

Solution: Using a Download Manager

A download manager is a software tool that manages the downloading of files from the Internet. The software may be built into a Web browser, although it may be a fairly sophisticated stand-alone software application. Using a download manager streams the download process.

Specifically, download managers are dedicated to the task of downloading files, sometimes unrelated stand-alone files, from the Internet for storage on your computer system. Some download managers can also be used to accelerate download speeds by downloading from multiple sources at once.

Although web browsers may have download managers incorporated as a feature, they are differentiated by the fact that they do not prioritize accurate, complete and unbroken downloads of information.

While some download managers are independent programs that can download any data over one or more protocols, many are integrated into installers or update managers and used to download parts of a specific program, eg. Adobe’s update managers.

A download manager will also ensure that large files like the .ZIP files that digiscrappers rely upon are downloaded intact and free of errors, especially on some slow and unreliable ISP (internet service provider) connections, which render the download unusable.

So if you happen to live in an area that still has an unreliable Internet connection, the download manager that I used for years and highly recommend is Free Download Manager which is available for both Mac OS and Windows PC platforms.

We have more information here about other common things that you can try if you are having problems with downloading .ZIP files.

Extracting and Unpacking .ZIPs aka Unzipping

Once you have retrieved or downloaded a .ZIP file, you need a way of extracting or unpacking it, in other words, a way to pull the files out of the .ZIP file and onto your computer hard drive so that you can easily access and use the files. This is commonly referred to as unzipping.

The unzipping program that I used for over ten years and highly recommend is PKZIP by PKWARE (non-affiliate link) which also comes in an enterprise version called secureZIP for both Mac OS and Windows PC. They also offer a free 30 day trial of their PKZIP product for you to test drive, which I love!

Having said that, Windows and Apple iOS systems are both also able to handle the process of unzipping with their inbuilt file management apps. However, using specialty unzipping software is not explicitly required but can be useful for other reasons (eg. password protecting .ZIP files).

Recommended: Unzip and Discard .ZIP Files

A word of caution: Keeping .ZIP files as a backup file is not usually recommended as an effective means of achieving secure long term backup and storage. This is because, ironically, .ZIP files are notoriously prone to corruption when moved around (hence the download manager solution discussed above). This means that the best practice is to unzip and discard the .ZIP files asap after successful downloads.

 

Backing Up your DigiScrap Files

Backing up all your files is a very important activity, and not just for digiscrappers either; read more about backing up your files and work here.

Photographs, digital scrapbooking kits and completed layouts are all precious parts of the digiscrapping journey, so taking the time to learn how to protect your photos and layouts in particular is very important.

 

File Organisation

Once you have opened your .ZIP file you need to extract, unzip or export the files from the .ZIP onto your hard drive. There are a number of ways of doing this and will depend on which software app or program you are using. This then leads us to the next thing to consider … how to organise your files.

Nowadays to move files out of a .ZIP file archive the easiest way is to click into the file, select the files with your mouse and simply drag them onto the desired folder in your file management software.

As a newbie digiscrapper I did what a number of newbies do, that is I lumped everything into one folder on my hard drive and then just got stuck into scrapping … perfectly fine until you have 10,000 files to wade through to find just the right papers and elements to use on your layout.

Dhoh!

Take away lesson from that experience: best to start organising as soon as possible.

So the process walk through is:

choose kit > download kit > unzip kit > organise kit

 

Promptly follow that simple formula and you’re pretty much good to go!

Ready! Set! Get scrapping!

 

With Our Compliments

~~~ FREEbie Download Coming Soon ~~~

 

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Final Thoughts

Now you are as clear as mud on downloads! and the process of getting kits for Digital Scrapbooking onto your hard drive. If things are still a little murky then let’s clear it up; please post your question in the comments below and we’ll help you out.

 

~~~ Podcast Coming Soon ~~~

 

This post is part of our Learn Digital Scrapbooking FAQ Series, the complete index for which can be found on the Learn Digital Scrapbooking: Start Here with the FAQs page.

Enjoy!

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