Downloads/Uploads – How data comes and goes from the Internet

Downloads (down = down, loads = loading) and uploads (up = up) are an essential, if not the essential, process on the Internet. Anyone who has ever visited an Internet site has “downloaded” the website onto their own computer in order to be able to view it.

But just because this process happens so simply in the background does not mean that it is directly understood. That is why I will try to explain the whole thing here and then also show how to deliberately download a certain file from the Internet.

Networking on the Internet:

In order to explain the whole thing, you have to explain a little bit about how the individual computers are networked on the Internet. All PCs are connected to each other on the Internet. Many do this via detours, but ultimately it is possible to “reach”, i.e. communicate with, every other computer in the world connected to the Internet with every computer connected to the Internet.

These computers can be roughly divided into two groups: On the one hand there are the servers (server=”servant”/”bidder”) and on the other hand there are the clients (client=”user”/”customer”). . You can tell from the terms of the two groups: the servers offer something and the clients use something.

Server vs. client

For example, the computer you are sitting at is most likely a client. You use it to visit websites and use content from the Internet. But where does this content come from?

And that's where the servers come into play. In simple terms, a server is a computer that waits all day to receive a request from a client somewhere on the Internet. For example, if you type an internet address into your browser and then press “Enter”, this is a request to the server behind this internet address.

Translated into German, this request could sound something like this: “Hey dear server, I would like to visit the website that is stored on your server.”.
In most cases the server will then reply: “Hey dear client, no problem. Get ready then here comes the website…”.


And here a download begins! The server will now start copying the website to your computer. You copy the files from the server. That’s why this process is called “Download”.

Only after you have downloaded this website it will be displayed in your browser. Therefore, after entering the Internet address and pressing the Enter key, you usually have a short delay until the website is displayed.

Especially the users of slow internet connections will know this. This delay is the time it takes to copy the web page to your computer.

However, the difference to a “conscious” download of a specific file when visiting websites is that these websites are (usually) not permanently stored on your computer. These files from the corresponding website are usually only temporarily stored in a cache until the browser either empties this cache on its own or you empty it again.

Start “conscious” downloads

But to download a certain file "consciously" you would have to proceed a bit differently. Again, this is most easily explained with an example:
Let’s assume you are interested in downloading the “Firefox” browser. After a quick Google search you will come across the following link:

There you can already see the big "Download Firefox" button in the upper (red marked) area.
So you click on the link and you will be redirected to the actual download page.

This window looks a little different depending on which browser you use. That's why I added an example of each of the most popular browsers "Firefox", "Opera", "Chrome" and "Microsoft Edge".

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The dialog windows differ in appearance, but in principle they all have the same purpose.
You as the user should now decide whether you want to download the file, and if so, where you want to download it. The only exception: The browser "Chrome" downloads the files without a dialog box and then only informs you in the lower area that a new file has been downloaded.
Since you will want to find the files after the download is complete, you will need to remember where you saved the file on your computer.
Windows now also provides a standard folder for this purpose. If the settings have not been changed, all downloads are therefore automatically saved in the "Downloads" folder.

To save the file you want to download in the default folder Downloads you have to proceed differently but similarly in the respective browsers. The following photos show (by a red marked area) what you have to click on.

Depending on the size of the file and the speed of your Internet connection or the connection between your computer and the server, the download will take a while. With small files, however, it is usually over so quickly that you don't actually see much of the download process.

When the download is complete, you can then access the downloaded file from the browser.

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Safety warning

In many cases, before the file is executed, there is a security warning. This is not a cause for alarm. It is a reminder that the file to be executed is a file from the Internet and that you should only execute it if you know "where it comes from". In addition, in the dialog window of the security warning, you are also shown once again where the file is stored exactly and from which "manufacturer" (in this case the "Mozilla Corporation") it comes. However, since you have just knowingly downloaded this file from a trusted source, you can execute it without remorse. Click "Run" once again and your file or, in this case, program should start.

And that was it. You have just successfully downloaded and executed a file 🙂 .

Okay, but what are uploads? Uploads are basically the same as downloads but the other way around. Instead of downloading files from the server to the client (your computer), you copy data from your computer to the server.

You can find such an upload option for example in your web email client when it comes to uploading a Send email with attachment
In order to send an e-mail with an attachment, the attachment is first uploaded from your computer to the server. As soon as you send the e-mail, the e-mail is sent from the server with the attachment already loaded on the server.
Basically, you control the server via the web email client and tell it “Here is an email with this text and the attachment. Please send it to this email address.”
Again, this is best explained with an example. As mentioned above, you need uploads when sending an email with an attachment. I have explained this here:  Send emails with attachment via

Of course, there are other places on the Internet where you may encounter an upload.
With this basic knowledge about downloads and uploads, you will now notice more and more situations on the Internet where you perform a download or upload.

Have fun with the project

I hope everything worked as described for you. If not or you have questions or suggestions please let me know in the comments. I will then add this to the article if necessary.
Ideas for new projects are always welcome. 🙂

PS Many of these projects - especially the hardware projects - cost a lot of time and money. Of course I do this because I enjoy it, but if you think it's cool that I share the information with you, I would be happy about a small donation to the coffee fund. 🙂

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