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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Problems downloading trial program

My website is done with asp.net and when the user clicks the download button  I use the following statement to display the download dialog to users:
Response.Redirect("~/Downloads/Myprogram Setup.exe", false);

I also write the user's IP address to a downloads.log file and I have noticed that about one-fourth of the entries in this log file appear to be the same person clicking the download button two to four times within a few seconds. I figured they did not have their browser configured to allow downloads so I added some download tips next to the button: 1. enable cookies; 2. enable file download.

Today a guy sent me a contact form message that his corporate IT department blocks downloads and asked me to email the setup program, which I did.  The log file shows he attempted four downloads. Now I wonder how many others this happened to and said screw it and never got the trial. Or maybe there are others that did not know what to do when they got the message that the security settings blocked the download.

One idea I have is to not use Response.Redirect and write code that directly downloads the file -I think .net has a class for doing  that. I think that gets around the browser security issues. Another option would be to offer an ftp site where they can download directly.

What do you folks do, or suggest I do?
Bill Anonomist Send private email
Thursday, September 15, 2011
I feel for you. We've had similar problems with dynamic download content where Firefox security plugins will thwart downloads with a scary message.
Scott Send private email
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Add this to your download page, near the button:

"Questions or problems? Please email ****@****.***"

Possibly also a phone number as well.

A link to a page of step-by-step instructions might also help, if you have non-techie customers.

Are you sure your 'download tips' are written in a way that most of your customers can understand them?

It is easy to forget how low a level of IT skills the average member of the public has compared to an average developer.
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, September 15, 2011
@Andy: good ideas. I have a toll-free number on most pages but not this one and there is a contact form link on the menu, but I think the download pages needs something at  the bottom like
"Download problems? - call us at ### ###-#### or email us at x@yz.com"  This is b2b software -a specialized editor, but I know some non-technical staff occasionaly download and even buy it.
Bill Anonomist Send private email
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Adding a zipped download option may help with the blocking. I do this and roughly 8% of my downloads are the zipped version.
Nicholas Hebb Send private email
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Some proxies on corporate networks block downloads of executables. Including a ZIPped version may help, though some are 'clever' enough to know that the ZIP file contains an executable.

An alternative is to create an MSI installer - AFAIK, MSI files are rarely blocked
Cocowalla Send private email
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Do you need to do a button + postback for that page? Could you just provide a link directly to the file location? From your sample code it looks like a simple static address.
Jarrett Lee Send private email
Friday, September 16, 2011
You can probably write a custom handler for .exe extension (I haven't tried for .exe. but when it works for others should probably work for .exe also) and implement whatever you write as stats before outputting the file back to the client. This way to the client it'll look as a direct link to a file.
Goran Burcevski Send private email
Friday, September 16, 2011
@Jarrett: the script for the button event logs user name and email from a form on the same page.
Bill Anonomist Send private email
Friday, September 16, 2011
As Cocowalla noted, .exe files may be getting blocked.  The company that I work for off-site has this.  I ran afoul of it recently.  Normally, I send a .zip.  Oops!


Gene Wirchenko
Gene Wirchenko Send private email
Friday, September 16, 2011
Sometimes .zip files with .exe inside are also blocked.
Video Send private email
Monday, September 19, 2011

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