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A direct download link (DDL) is a hypertext link typically provided on an Internet site that can be used to download a file directly from a hosting system. These types of links are used in a number of ways, both legitimately and illegally, to allow users to more easily share files through the Internet. Companies can use these links to provide easy ways for customers to download various files from a website, including digital manuals, software, and drivers for hardware support. A direct download link can be used to spread illegal software or malicious software, however, so care should be demonstrated by anyone using such a link.
In general practice, a direct download link is nothing more than a hypertext link on a webpage used to directly link to a particular file rather than another webpage. Users can then click the link to easily begin downloading the linked file through that page, rather than downloading a file through another method. Peer-to-peer file sharing, for example, was once a popular way for Internet users to share files and media, often infringing upon copyright ownership. As many companies cracked down on such services, however, many users began utilizing a direct download link to share a file.
A company can legally use a direct download link to provide customers with links to software or other files offered by the company. Video card companies, for example, can provide numerous links on a single page to files that are digital copies of user manuals provided with cards. Other software, such as control center utilities for a particular video card, can also be provided through such a link and often allows a user to begin downloading such a program with a single mouse click. A direct download link can also be used by the same company to provide users with downloads of video card drivers, and a simple webpage layout can make organizing and displaying all of these links quite simple.
As many file sharers changed to utilize a direct download link, these links also became a way for people to spread illegal or malicious software. Many movies, music recordings, and video games are available as downloads online, with no payment going to the makers of these products. This not only violates copyright laws in many countries, but can lead to criminal theft charges brought against those who download or share such programs. Since a direct download link can be manipulated much like any other type of hypertext link, these links can also be used to deceptively spread malicious software to those who click on them.