Unable to download files from the internet in Windows 10 [Fix]

Ivan Jenic By: Ivan Jenic
7 minute read

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If you can’t download files from the internet, you’re in a big trouble. But you already know that. Reasons for failing to download files or even folders in Windows 10 are different. We can’t tell you exactly which problem occurs in your case.

What we can do is show you as many workarounds as possible. If you already know what might cause the problem, don’t bother reading the whole article, and just look for familiar culprits. If you don’t know what’s wrong with your browser, or system, or internet connection, go through this article carefully, follow the instructions, and hopefully, you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Okay, this intro was a little rough, but you’re not here to read the intro. You’re here to solve your problem. So, without any further ado, check out what we’ve prepared for you below.

What to do if you can’t download files in Windows 10

Check if external programs are downloading something

The first thing that comes to our mind when dealing with download issues in Windows is the faulty internet connection. But since you’re reading this article, your internet connection should be alright. On the other hand, there may be something that’s blocking your downloads or uses the entire bandwidth.

In most cases, that’s a download from an external program. So, before you move on to another solution, make sure you’re not downloading anything with your torrent or Steam client. Or any other external program or app. For example, if you’re downloading a huge game on Steam, you probably won’t have enough bandwidth for other downloads. Also, if you’re connected to the internet via WiFi, it’ll be even harder. So take that into account, as well.

If you’re not downloading anything at the moment, but still can’t download a single file from Google Drive, for example, feel free to move to another workaround.

Clear internet data and cache

Now, let’s move to browser-related workarounds. And we’re going to start with the simplest one – clearing cache and data. Usually, accumulated cache is not that of a problem, but it might have some effect on your downloads. So, before reinstalling your browser, make sure to clear the internet cache and data.

Here’s how to clear data and cache in Google Chrome (the procedure is similar with other browsers, as well):

  1. Click on the (three-dotted) menu
  2. Open History
  3. Now, choose Clear browsing data
  4. Make sure Browsing history, and cache are selected (you can also select other data, for a deeper cleaning)
  5. Wait for the browser to clear data

Reinstall your browser

Now, if you’re still unable to download files from the internet, even after clearing cache and data, maybe it’s time to reinstall your browser. So, go and delete your browser, and download and install it again. Hopefully, you’ll see some changes.

An alternative solution to this is updating your browser. So, head over to your browser’s settings, and check for the latest version. Or you can try another browser. It’s that simple.

Make sure you have enough space

You can’t download any files if you don’t have where to put them. All jokes aside, you would be surprised to know how many people actually don’t know how much storage space they have left. It happens to me all the time with my phone, to be honest.

So, just check if you have enough storage space for the file you want to download. If you don’t have enough space on your hard disk, consider deleting some apps you don’t use, or clear temporary and old files. Here’s perhaps the most efficient way to get rid of the old files:

  1. Open This PC.
  2. Right-click the system partition and open Properties.
  3. Choose Disk Cleanup.
  4. Check boxes beside Temporary files.
  5. Confirm selection and clean temporary files.

Verify download location

If you don’t want to delete anything from your hard disk, the alternative solution is to simply change the download location, and move your downloads to a ‘place’ with enough storage space. The procedure slightly varies depending on the browser you’re using, but it’s quite simple on all of them.

Just go to Settings, find the download location, and change it.

Don’t use the download manager

There are literally thousands of download managers out there. But the truth is, you don’t need one! Back in the days when browsers weren’t as advanced as they are today, maybe this type of software had some value, but today, not so much. Your browser will provide you with every download tool you need, and that should be more than enough.

Using a download manager can only negatively affect your downloads. So, if you have one installed on your computer, go and delete it, and use your browser for downloading files.

Check for viruses

We don’t have to tell you that viruses and malware can do all sorts of bad things to your computer. The problem with downloading files is just one of them. So, open your antivirus (or Windows Defender, if you don’t have any other antivirus solution), and perform a deep scan.

If your computer is infected with some malicious software, the antivirus will remove it, and hopefully, you’ll be able to download files again.


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Disable antivirus

Now, let’s do a total opposite. There’s a chance your antivirus blocks certain files from downloading. So, the obvious solution in this case is to temporarily disable your antivirus solution.

But be careful, you should do this only if you’re one hundred percent positive that the file you’re trying to download is secure. If you’re not sure, maybe it’s a better idea to keep your antivirus on.

Disable Firewall

Same goes for Windows’ built-in Firewall. This feature is know for blocking certain features, as well as downloads. So, you might consider switching it off. But once again, for a short period of time.

Here’s how to disable Windows Firewall:

  1. Go to Search, type firewall, and open Windows Firewall
  2. Now, click the Turn Windows Firewall off or on option

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  4. Go to Turn off Windows Firewall

Run SFC scan

Maybe something’s wrong with your system files, and that’s what blocks you from downloading. The simplest solution in this case is to run the SFC scan. If you’re not familliar with this tool, it’s Windows’ built-in problem solver that may be useful when

  1. Go to Search, type cmd, and open Command Prompt as Administrator (Right-click > Open as Administrator).
  2. In the command line type the following command and press Enter:
    • sfc/scannow
  3. Wait for the procedure to finish, restart your PC.

As we already mentioned, SFC scan is the first troubleshooting step when you want to check the system files’ integrity. However, if SFC fails, you can always turn to DISM. Deployment Image Servicing and Management is a great tool that should help you resolve deeper system issues, including (hopefully) problems with downloading files.

If you’re unsure how to run DISM, follow these instructions:

  1. Right-click on Start and open Command Prompt (Admin).
  2. In the command line type the following command:
      • DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth
  3. The process should scan and resolve possible files corruption and fix related issues.

Change file type settings

This solution especially applies to Mozilla Firefox. There’s a chance Firefox is set to handle different types of files differently, and therefore block downloading of a certain type. To resolve this, you should reset the file type settings to default. Here’s how to do that in Mozilla Firefox:

  1. Go to Menu (three-striped button), select Help, and go to Troubleshooting information.
  2. Under the Application Basics section, click on Open Folder.
  3. Click the menu button, and then click Exit.
  4. Delete or rename the mimeTypes.rdf file (for example, rename it mimeTypes.rdf.old).
  5. Restart Firefox.

Reset Internet Security settings

Downloads should be enabled by default, but there’s a chance something disturbed this setting. We can’t surely tell you what’s the cause of that, but it won’t hurt to check if the settings are on point. Here’s exactly what you need to do:

  1. Go to Search, type internet options, and open Internet Options
  2. Go to the Security tab, click Internet, and go to Custom level…
  3. Scroll to Downloads, make sure this option is enabled
  4. Save the changes and restart your computer

Check registry

Back to your antivirus. After you initiate downloading of a certain file, browsers will automatically put it through the antivirus scan, with your antivirus program (if you have any). So, as we were saying before, your antivirus may not allow the file to be downloaded, and you’ll run into a problem. The solution in this case is to disable the feature that forces your downloads to go through the antivirus scan.

Doing this is not recommended, for safety reasons, so if you determine antivirus scans are not the cause of your problem, turn this feature back on. Here’s exactly what you need to do:

  1. Go to Search, type regedit, and open Registry Editor
  2. Go to the following path: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Attachments
  3. Now, look for the Attachments subkey. If you can’t find it, create one.
  4. To create the Attachments subkey, right-click Policies > New > Key > name it Attachments.
  5. Now right-click Attachments > New > DWORD (32-bit) > Set Value name as ScanWithAntiVirus and give it a value 1.

Reset your computer

Resetting your system should be your last resort, but if none of the above helped, it might be the only viable solution. Here’s how to reset your computer:

  1. Click Start.
  2. Open Settings.
  3. Open Update & Security.
  4. Choose Recovery.
  5. Click Get Started under the Reset this PC.
  6. Choose Keep my files.
  7. After the procedure is finished, you’ll end up with a fresh copy of Windows

That’s about it. We certainly hope at least one of these solutions helped you resolve the problem with downloading files in Windows. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, the comments section is just below.

RELATED STORIES YOU NEED TO CHECK OUT:

For various PC problems, we recommend this tool.

This software will repair common computer errors, protect you from file loss, malware, hardware failure and optimize your PC for maximum performance. Fix PC issues now in 3 easy steps:

  1. Download this PC Repair Tool rated "Excellent" on TrustPilot.com.
  2. Click “Start Scan” to find Windows issues that could be causing PC problems.
  3. Click “Repair All” to fix all issues with Patented Technologies (requires upgrade).

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