In the past week, I’ve downloaded a lot of very big files for installing some software. The biggest was the DVD image for Windows 8.1. Yes, I downloaded it legally and no, I have not yet installed it. It is part of the preparation I described in Preparing To Move Computer From Windows XP to Windows 8.1. There were some other very large downloads for some software I’ll be reviewing in the near future. As I downloaded each of these files, I followed the instructions I provided in February to Store Downloaded Software and Serial Numbers in a Safe Place.
When I downloaded these huge files, I wanted to make sure I could easily find them at a later date. I certainly didn’t want to download them again. In the case of the software I download for a future review, it limits me to only two download attempts and that is yet another reason to make sure I have the files safely stored. First I have a folder labeled “Downloads” where I store everything I download. Inside of that folder, I often create subfolders if there are groups of files that should be stored together. Of course this whole folder (in fact, the whole data drive) is automatically synched every night with GoodSync to another drive to prevent against loss of data due to drive failure.
Of course having the files is only half of the problem. Serial numbers will also be required to install the software and it is important to keep them in a safe place. While the files are being downloaded, I copy (Ctrl + C) and paste (Ctrl + V) each of the necessary serial numbers into a database where they can easily be found later. This database is also synced nightly for backup reasons. It is also synced with my mobile devices so I can access the serial numbers on more than just my computer.
I’d like to think everyone follows a procedure like this, but I know it isn’t common due to all the questions I get from users about how to find something downloaded in the past. Will you take a few minutes right now to create a place to store your downloads? I hope so! Will you take a few more minutes to make sure files you have already downloaded are moved to that folder so they can easily be found in the future? What about the serial numbers, are you storing them in a place they can be found in the future? Most important of all, are you backing it all up? This may seem like a hassle now, but you’ll be really happy sometime in the future where you can easily access it all.
If you have a procedure you use that improves on what I’ve described, I’m always interested in hearing about it. No matter how well any of us do something, there is always a way to improve on it.