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Guidelines for file names which are provided for download

May 22, 2007

Many files posted for download have badly chosen file names:

An example, Vista "Problem Reports and Solutions" just pointed me towards a new network driver from Intel to improve stability.  When I follow a link or two and begin downloading the file, the filename is:  When I save that file locally, the file name makes it very tough to understand what the file is.

Shouldn’t driver downloads be named with the idea that they will be stored in a directory with other drivers and need to be distinguishable?

Perhaps something more like:

(This isn’t saying that Windows shouldn’t do a better job of automating this procedure…)


Similarly, application setup programs shouldn’t be named "Setup.exe".  Perhaps MyCoolAppName-1.5-Setup.exe.


Imagine the lifecycle of the files you provide for download.

  • What will your users want to do with it? Where will they store it?
  • If they want to download more than one version (over time), consider putting a version number or date in the filename.
  • Can you design a file naming scheme that most users will find pretty-good?

From → Urls

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