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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"Corrupted Downloads": What Is to Be Done?

A couple of months ago I wrote here about truncated downloads with Internet Explorer. First of all, thanks to everybody who responded with their own experiences and information; the response was so overwhelming that I'm afraid that I failed to get back to all of you individually, so let me belatedly express my appreciation now. The reports were enlightening and confirmed, again and again, that Microsoft Internet Explorer is not only prone to truncating long downloads, but, once having done so, stores the incomplete download in its cache and serves subsequent download requests from it, vitiating attempts by persistent users to retry the download.

Since I have gotten really, really tired of responding to E-mails from people who report “corrupted” files on my site (often in remarkably abusive language, considering that it's directed at somebody who is providing something for nothing to a global audience), I've now put together a document describing the problem and recommending alternatives to downloading files with Microsoft Internet Explorer. I had originally seized upon FTP, using the command-line FTP client supplied with every copy of Windows since Windows 95, as the last-ditch solution to this problem for users unwilling or unable to migrate to a better browser or install a reliable download utility. This is, of course, torpedoed because Microsoft's FTP client, more than a quarter century after RFC 765, still doesn't support passive mode FTP, and consequently doesn't work for users behind FTP-unaware NAT boxes and firewalls. For those whose network connections allow them to use Microsoft's FTP client, or who install a competently implemented modern replacement, a tutorial on downloading files with FTP walks beginners through the rather gnarly process.

Yes, I am aware that the subtitle of this document is a deliberate allusion to Lenin's classic pamphlet, which I cited before, a couple of decades ago, in my assorted scribblings.

Posted at October 11, 2006 00:32