I've just installed Windows Server 2008 R2 as a VM. Everything seems to be working fine apart of internet explorer.

I'm trying to download Siverlight and a few other things but IE8 keeps telling me that Downloads are disabled. When I go to the settings, security on IE8, the option to change the settings are faded and I can't change it at all.

Does anyone know what I should be doing to change it?

Cheers, Fred Kaiser


It's a pain in the rear, isn't it? That is an intentional choice on Microsoft's part. There are ways to enable downloads, but wouldn't recommend it. No matter how certain you are of the reputation of the website you're visiting, it's a Server OS and you shouldn't be using it to browse the internet even to download patches, installers, etc.

Instead, use your workstation to do your downloading and then copy the files up to the Server for installation.

  • Sweet as... I was trying to download the patches and updates for Win 2008 but I can't use Windows Update itself because it's blocked on the firewall which I don't have any control of. I've managed to find the patches and am downloading it on my workstation and moving across to the server. Cheers for that ErikA! – Fred Kaiser Aug 30 '10 at 0:24
  • Very good. You should nag your network/firewall guys to enable access to the Windows Update servers (even if it's through a proxy - Windows Update can deal with proxies correctly). They're just asking for problems if they're making it difficult for internal Windows servers to get their updates. Alternatively, you can set up a WSUS server (it's a free download from MS) and allow only that server to access the Windows Update servers, and then all of your other internal servers get their updates from your local WSUS instance. – EEAA Aug 30 '10 at 0:27
  • good as gold mate. I'm going to ask the guys to sort something out. I think it will be hard but I will try to get them to do what I need. for now, I will do the downloads on my workstation and see what happens of if I still need anything else. Thanks heaps aye?!! – Fred Kaiser Aug 30 '10 at 0:33

I agree with everything ErikA said - however if you absolutally 100% totally do have to download on the server (and sometimes it is the only choice) then you need to add the site you're trying to download from into your Trusted Sites list.

This can be fun when the site you're downloading from keeps redirecting you to a random mirror each time you attempt the download, but it works most of the time.

The other option is to disable the IE Enhanced Security Configuration (IE ESC) from the front page of the Server Manager snapin ("Configure IE ESC"). This is quite drastic though and should only be done as a last resort, and should never ever be done on a production system (especially a terminal server)

  • As this is a testing server and no one will be using it but myself, I was kind of keen to enable downloads and everything else I could possibly need but you guys idea is better... I'm already doing the downloads needed on my workstation! By the way, I ran IE8 as Administrator and the options to change and enable stuff is working now. Not that I'm going to use it after you guys explanation but I managed to get it going. Thanks heaps! Fred Kaiser – Fred Kaiser Aug 30 '10 at 0:27
  • No worries. At least now people will know for future. – Mark Henderson Aug 30 '10 at 1:01

To enable download follow these instructions:

  • go to Internet Explorer options.
  • click on Security tab.
  • click in custom level.
  • search for downloads.
  • click on enable under enable download files.
  • finally click ok

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