Updated: 05/13/2019 by Computer Hope

Sometimes abbreviated as DL, D/L, or DLing, download is a term used to describe the process of 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.

A good example of this is downloading a video from YouTube so that you can save it to your hard drive.


When you download a file or program, you'll see a down arrow with an underscore which indicates that the download has initiated.

Copying vs. downloading

Many new computer users inappropriately refer to copying files as downloading. When you are 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 are copying a file from a different computer to your computer, you are 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 download. The program of where you're viewing 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?

The speed at which your computer downloads a file depends largely on the speed of your Internet or network connection as well as 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, Downstream, Drive-by download, Internet terms, Modem terms, Network terms, Pull, Receive, Streaming, Upload