Fix: Cannot download a file from the Internet

If you cannot download a file from the Internet or save or run it using Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Edge, Opera or other browsers on Windows 10/8/7; that is, when you click a link to download a file, nothing happens, or the Save As dialog box appears and quickly disappears, then this post may be able to help you.

Internet Explorer uses the Attachment Manager to protect you against unsafe attachments and Internet downloads by identifying the file type and the respective security settings. Sometimes, due to some reasons you may be just disallowed from downloading any files from the Internet. The causes could be varied.

Cannot download a file from the Internet

Here are a few steps you may want to try – in any order – to identify, troubleshoot and resolve the problem.

1] Check your Internet connection and ensure that it is in working condition.

2] Clear Internet Cache, Temporary Files, Cookies, History, etc, using Disk Cleanup tool, CCleaner or the built-in browser UI, restart your computer and try again.

3] Choose a different download location and see if that helps. Maybe your download folder has become corrupted or has some other problem.

4] Do not use the default name for saving the fie. Save it as a different file-type and/or choose a different name and see if this helps

5] If you are using a Download Manager, disable it and see if that works for you.

6] If you are very sure that the file is safe, disable Firewall and or your antivirus or security software temporarily and see if the download works.

7] Do you receive a Your current security settings do not allow this file to be downloaded message? Then ensure that File downloads are allowed.

Cannot download a file from the Internet

Run inetcpl.cpl to open Internet Options and click the Security tab. Select the Internet zone and click on the Custom level button.

In Security Settings, scroll down to Downloads. Set File download to Enable. Scroll down a bit more and you will see Miscellaneous. Here make sure that Launching applications and unsafe files is set to Prompt (recommended). Click Apply/OK and Exit.

If this does not help, you can reset Internet Security settings by clicking on Reset all zones to defaultlevel under Security tab.

8] To download files, Internet Explorer needs to create a  temporary cache file. In Internet Explorer, if the file is delivered over HTTPS, if response headers are set to prevent caching, and if the Do not save encrypted pages to disk option is set, a cache file is not created. In such a case, the download may fail with message Internet Explorer Cannot Download or File couldn’t be downloaded.

unable to download files
Uncheck this option temporarily and see if it helps. You will get this setting under Internet Options > Advanced tab > Settings.

9] Most browsers launch your antivirus program to scan files when they finish downloading. While NOT advisable, you may temporarily disable this scanning feature via your browser settings, if you are sure that the file to be downloaded is safe.. You can also disable antivirus scanning of your downloaded files by editing the Windows Registry. To do this, Run regedit and hit Enter to open the Registry. Navigate to the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Attachments

disable-av-scanning1

If you do not see the Attachments subkey, create it by right-clicking Policies > New > Key > Type Attachments as the key name. Next, right click Attachments > select New > DWORD (32-bit). Give Value Name as ScanWithAntiVirus and give it a value 1.

ScanWithAntiVirus registry key values are:

  • 1: Will ‘Off’ or disable the scan
  • 2: Optional scan
  • 3: Will enable the virus scan right after you completely open or save the program or file.

10] Finally – if nothing works, the only option that is left to try is to reset browser settings to default. These posts will help you: Reset Internet Explorer | Reset ChromeReset Firefox.

Do note that some of the steps mentioned above may make your computer less secure. So carry them out only if you are very sure, that the file you are planning to download is safe. Once your work is done, remember to change the settings back.

Please let us know if anything worked for you or if you have any other ideas.

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Posted by on , in Category General with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

31 Comments

  1. Kiran kumar

    This happens to me once. But this method was not working that time. I tried with adaware Cleaner and ComboFix. After that only I able to download files into my system.

  2. OK – Maybe your system was infected. 🙂

  3. George Melendez Correa

    What should be done with FireFox???

  4. Guest

    get rid of it ^_^

  5. Try Points 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10 above.

  6. Sid

    tried each and evry thing but still I am not able to download anything !! .. Have the latest original Bitdefender antivirus running so even sure that I do not hav virus or malware or trojan !!

    please help 🙁

  7. Vaibhav Gupta

    “Do not save encrypted pages to disk” did the trick

  8. jen

    Worked thank you!! That was really annoying me!

  9. CHOTU

    It worked for me by Unchecking the DO NOT SAVE ENCRYPTED PASSWORD TO DISK UNDER TOOLS>INTERNET EXPLORERE>ADVANCED TAB

  10. SB

    Hello Anand. I followed your helpful steps above but I’m still unable to download files using IE11. I get the “Do you want to run or save” message and I see download progress but when IE runs the security scan I get {filename} could not be downloaded, then… Internet Explorer has stopped working, then… Internet Explorer is restarting and then IE closes and reopens itself. I’ve rolled back IE to ver.8 and successfully reinstalled to ver.11 but this has not fixed the issue. Can you recommend next steps?

  11. Back up your Bookmarks, etc, and then Reset your IE. Please read this post for details: https://www.thewindowsclub.com/reset-internet-explorer-settings Have you tried this? Maybe this will help.

  12. SB

    Thanks Anand, yes I have tried a IE11 reset but unfortunately this did not resolve the issue.

  13. Jwb

    SB did you get a fix?

  14. SB

    Not as of yet…

  15. Kramer

    I have had tis issue for well over a month- tried all these steps. Then said screw it. I don’t use I.E. anyways. better to stick with FF or Chrome. Maybe Project Spartan will be better?

  16. SB

    Without having a better solution, I elected to reinstall Win7 which wiped out the HD on the PC and necessitated reinstalling all software and doing a restore from a backup to restore my data. This was a lot of work but ultimately fixed this issue.

  17. CS

    Many of our users have been plagued with this for over the past year. In our case it seems to be a corrupt registry setting, but I have been unable to find out which one. The only fix that I have found to work is to recreate the users windows profile. You can check this by creating a new user and trying the download form that profile. Instructions for recreating a windows 7 profile can be foud here:

    http://superuser.com/questions/512484/how-do-i-force-windows-7-to-create-a-new-domain-profile-with-same-name-as-an-exi

  18. Lee New

    I am also having this problem of not being able to download any file from the Internet or being able to post any photos on Facebook. I reinstalled Chrome, but that did not help so I tried using Mozilla, but that also did not help. I tried every method listed above, which also did not help. I am beginning to think that reinstalling Windows is the only solution because I do not have this problem on my laptop with identical settings for Chrome and Mozilla.

  19. Guest

    More than likely you have a corrupt profile do to malware/virus and cleanup by Anti-malware/Virus tool. To fix this you do not need to reinstall OS unless system is still heavily infected. To resolve issue create new user profile (create new user and login as new user) verify if you can now download something using IE, if you can follow instructions given in link below to copy your data from the old user profile to the new user profile.
    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Fix-a-corrupted-user-profile

  20. Richard Y. McCall

    More than likely you have a corrupt profile do to malware/virus and cleanup by Anti-malware/Virus tool. To fix this you do not need to reinstall OS unless system is still heavily infected. To resolve issue create new user profile (create new user and login as new user) verify if you can now download something using IE, if you can follow instructions given in link below to copy your data from the old user profile to the new user profile.
    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Fix-a-corrupted-user-profile
    good luck

  21. Devin Schweiss

    I already have file downloads enabled, but when I try to download something, it won’t work.

  22. Devin Schweiss

    I tried changing a download setting in Chrome, and it worked!

  23. JT

    Out of curiosity, which setting in Chrome did you change that allowed you to download in IE?

  24. Jeff

    For anyone with this problem, try going to windows update and then going to the list of installed updates and uninstalling IE. Sometimes with avirus IE can become corrupt and forget how to download. Reinstall IE via Windows update and you should bew able to download again. thats what worked for me

  25. prithiviraj

    Hi Anand
    In windows vista pc not able to download any file in any browsers(IE and chrome).i have tried all steps above,still the issue same,it starts downloading suddenly it shows error like that”your download couldn’t complete,download filed”if i give retry also not happening.kindly guide me to solve the issue in EOD…?

  26. Wilson

    How can you download files and fix it, while the problem is not being able to download files?

  27. Annie

    I fixed this with “Fix problems with windows update” in control panel under System and Security

  28. Rosie-Redstar

    is this still happening to anyone? I’m on a fresh windows 7 install and none of the ideas worked… my problem is not related to a single browser, as the problem has appeared across IE, chrome, and (if applicable here) the steam browser.

    It’s not giving me any kind of error, just giving the the progress as 0 / (file size) and never downloading anything no matter how much time passes.

  29. Mohammed Mubasshir

    I had also the same issue that I was unable to download anything whether it is mp3 file, or zip file or .exe file. Finally I found solution for my PC. Once I installed Internet Download Manager and after few days it stopped working. After that I was unable download anything. Now, after so many days I realized that it could be because of IDM. So, I uninstalled that… Fnally, Now I can download everything.

  30. Purushottam Latey

    In addition to the earlier suggestions; Unchecking the “Do not save encrypted pages to disk” worked for me !!!!! Thanks a LOT Friend !! Spent 4 Hrs on this crap till I saw ur page…can’t thank you enough for the bother saved !! God Bless..saw this particular help on ur site only !!!!! 🙂 I use Kaspersky and Malwarebytes..; any suggestion how the Malware got thru ?? Which AV do you recommend ??

  31. Kaspersky and Malwarebytes both are good. I use this combo too.

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