How to Download, Store & Print Online Information

Instructor: Michelle DeSalvo

Michelle has been an academic librarian for over twenty years. She has a Master’s Degree in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Have you ever heard the excuse, 'The dog ate my homework'? With technology, it is easier than ever to misplace a file or a message. In this lesson, you will learn some pointers about downloading, storing, and printing information.

Most of us start and end our days using a variety of devices. Knowing how and when to download, store, and print items can save you a lot of time.

Definition of downloading


Downloading is the process of transferring information between computers or devices. Usually, the data is shared over a computer network. Almost any file can be downloaded, including Microsoft Word documents and PowerPoint presentations. Media such as music and videos can be downloaded as well.

To help you understand downloading, here is a little background. Have you ever wondered about the difference between downloading and streaming? In downloading, the information is broken into packets. Packets are small pieces of information. The packets are separated and then reassembled. When you download, you keep a copy of the information.

Streaming is when you download and play files at the same time. The files are temporary. Have you ever noticed how when you watch a streaming video, the item disappears when you are finished?

One advantage of streaming is copyright. Since the item is only temporary, there are less ownership issues. Also, downloading applications (apps) from a store can be very limiting.

Streaming information does have some drawbacks. The first one is connectivity. Also, you may need to install a separate plug-in. A plug-in is a software that helps the browser display the information.


Storage is a way of saving an item so that you can access it later. For instance, every time you save a file to a hard drive, you are storing it.

Computer storage can either be primary or secondary. The two complement each other. Primary storage always includes the Central Processing Unit (CPU). The storage is within the computer. Also, the information is permanent unless you delete it. Random access memory (RAM) is an example.

Have you ever used a flash drive or external hard drive? These are both types of secondary storage. Secondary storage can be either internal or external. Often, it is removable.

Cloud Computing and Devices
Cloud Computing and Devices

Another option is Cloud storage. Cloud storage lets you save items online. The beauty of this option is that you can access your information from different devices. Although this is convenient, privacy and security are two concerns. Amazon and Microsoft are well-known Cloud companies.

Downloading and Storing Tips

Using the Download icon makes it very easy to save files. You can also select File and Save/Save As. Every program might have slightly different instructions.

Before you begin downloading, here are some factors to consider:

1. Who - Is the computer shared, or just certain files and folders? Who can access them?

2. What - Are the files text, music, or pictures?

3. Where - Where is the best location and type of storage for downloads? Do you want to use the hard drive, a flash drive, or the Cloud? Do you want to e-mail the file to yourself as well?

4. When - Adding a date to the file name can make it a snap to find later. Also, is the information for temporary use or long term?

Find a system that works for you. Keeping a small notebook with file locations also works. The same is true for sticky notes.

Novelty Flash Drive
Novelty Flash Drive

If you are a fan of flash drives, here are a few tips. You can organize your flash drives by color. Novelty flash drives are a fun way to keep track of your information.


Even if you download or store information, there are times when you will want to print. To print means to reproduce words on any material. The term print is a Latin word that means 'to press'.

Johannes Gutenberg
Johannes Gutenberg

Unlike downloading or storing, the invention of printing goes back several centuries. In the 15th century, movable type was invented by Johannes Gutenberg.

The art of printing keeps evolving. Applications such as Apple's AirPrint now lets you print from hand-held devices.

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