Hi, I'm a bit of a newbie, so I'm not 100% sure that my answer is right, but I think I can help:

I know. Perhaps I should clarify: it begins to download as soon as I run start-freenet.sh,

As soon as you start freenet your node (i.e. your computer) doesn't just 'connect' to the freenet network, it really becomes 'part' of the network, routing requests and data about the network. That is to say: requests for data are sent to your node from others, and if the data isn't already on your node, it may sent the request to other nodes it's connected to. If data is found, it is passed to your node, which will pass it back to the node from which the request came. Your node may decide to keep this data in case it is requested in the future.

and keeps going for a while, even before I access fproxy/run any clients.


The above all happens before you even access fproxy or run any clients. This happens on all nodes (although I'm not too sure about transient nodes... not quite sure what they are)... however:

This is something of a problem, as I use dial-up.

It says somewhere if you don't have a stable IP address (usually if you have a dial up connection)... maybe you should "transient node" in freenet config. My internet is really dodgy at the minute (although clearly I can send e-mail!) so I can't check the website, but I imagine is should say something there about it. I'm not sure what effect this would have though.

Hope this helps,

Michal.







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