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Is going from one Web site to another a download?

Recently I was told by my Internet provider that going from one Web site to another Web site is considered a download. Is this true? My understanding of "download" is that an exchange has to happen, i.e. I download software from a Web site and store it to my computer. Could you please help clarify this issue?

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According to, downloading is the transmission of a file from one computer system to another, usually smaller, computer system. From the Internet user's point-of-view, to download a file is to request it from another computer (or from a Web page on another computer) and to receive it.

To further clarify, I asked editor Alex Howard to answer your question. He said, "You download an HTML file when you request a URL using HTTP and a Web browser, which usually has images or other files associated with it. That all certainly counts as "downloading," as it involves memory moving over the ISP's network. It's true that this isn't an express download, as would be the case if you downloaded a networking application, for instance, from or, but every time you query a new page, you use bandwidth from the ISP."

This was first published in April 2007

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