Updated: 08/31/2020 by Computer Hope

Sometimes abbreviated as DL, D/L, or DLing, download is a term used to describe copying data from one computer to another, either over a network or modem. For example, each time you visit a web page on the Internet, you download the information on the page, including any pictures, to your computer. The term download is often associated with pictures, songs, videos, and programs.


When you download a file or program, you'll see a down arrow with an underscore that indicates that the download has initiated. You can also view and manage the downloads in most browsers using the Ctrl+J shortcut key.

Copying vs. downloading

Many new computer users inappropriately refer to copying files on their computer as downloading. When copying a file from your computer to another drive or folder on the same computer, you're copying that file and not downloading the file. If you're copying a file from a different computer to your computer, you're downloading the file.

Downloading a hard copy

When wanting to create a hard copy (print out) of a document, web page, recipe, etc. nothing needs to be downloaded. The program you're using to view what you want to print is capable of printing without doing a download.

Examples sites from which you may download

How fast can I download?

A file's download speed depends largely on the speed of your Internet or network connection, and the size of the file. A faster Internet or network connection results in a shorter amount of time to download a file.

Buffer, Computer acronyms, Data transfer, Digital distribution, Downstream, Drive-by download, Internet terms, Modem terms, Network terms, Pull, Receive, Streaming, Upload