Planet Geographic Information Systems
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Frequently Asked Questions

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Q:“How do I view the maps after I have downloaded them?
A:“The downloaded maps are in a compressed (zip or 7z) format and need to be unzipped. If you have a program like WinZip or WinRar or 7-zip you can use those to uncompress the files, but you may also be able to use Windows. Recent versions of Windows' File Explorer shows zipped files as "compressed folders". Select all the files inside the compressed folder and copy them somewhere else. e.g. C:\Maps.

Please make sure you extract ALL of the files and put them somewhere where Windows will allow software to create additional files. (Anywhere under C:\Program Files\ is not such a location, rather create a directory like C:\Maps).

If you haven't installed PlanetGIS yet, download and install PlanetGIS Explorer (at a minimum). Once installed you can double-click on the .map file to open it, or you can run PlanetGIS and click on File->Open to select the .map file.

The first time you open a map with PlanetGIS, it will go through an indexing process which may take a few minutes. This will not happen when you open the maps in future.

Q:“The site asks me for a user name and password when I try to download something!
A:“Most of the downloads require you to create a free user account with us. This is so that we can keep track on the usage of our services and to send you an occasional email to alert you about map or software updates. It is easy to cancel your account: there will be a link at the bottom of any email that we send.

Click on the login link and then choose [Create account]. You will be sent your password to the email address you specify. If you already have a user account, click on [Forgot password] to have your password resent.

You should receive your password almost immediately. If you haven't received it after 10 minutes your ISP or company email server might have decided it is spam and blocked it. In that case, contact us at the email address at the bottom of this page.

Q:“I've lost my password!
A:“Please click on the [Forgot password] link on the login screen. You should receive your password within minutes unless a spam filter stopped it. If you don't see any email with a password, check your spam folder. If you still don't find anything, email us at the address listed at the bottom of this page.

If your email address has changed since you signed up, you may not receive your password. If you would like to retain your profile information (software registrations, etc.) please contact us to change your email address. Alternatively, simply create a new account.

Q:“I've tried downloading a map many times and it stops at the same place every time!
A:“This happens due to "caching". Your internet service provider or company firewall may have cached the file in case someone else wants to download it too. This saves bandwidth and can speed things up considerably. However, the caching server might have had problems downloading the file, so that the file is incomplete, but be unaware of this. Then you will get the same broken file every time you try until the caching server deletes it after a few days.

The solution: use HTTPS. This is the protocol you use to do internet banking, etc. The data is encrypted so that no one in between you and the web server can intercept it. More importantly, caching servers don't cache data downloaded through https://

How do I do it? Right-click on the download link and click "Copy link address" or "Copy link location" or similar depending on which browser you are using. Then paste (<Ctrl>+V) the URL into the address bar of your browser. Now add an s after http, e.g.

Q:“When unzipping a downloaded map, I get an error message saying it is an invalid file!
A:“Some of the files are well over 100MB which makes them difficult to download if your internet connection is not very stable and fast. What often happens is that somewhere between your computer and our web server the connection "times out". (A certain period of inactivity is exceeded and the connection cancelled). Often, a web browser would stop the download and report that it has finished. If the file size is not the same as stated on our website, it hasn't!

An alternative way to download large files is to use BitTorrent or uTorrent or similar. There is a link to the official BitTorrent site on the download page, and you can read about it here: BitTorrent will download the maps in chunks. If one of the chunks fail it will retry until you stop it. A further advantage is that the downloaded data is compared to the original data (also by chunk) and if there is a difference it will download that chunk again. There are a few caveats and some people are sceptical about the safety of the software. This scepticism is based on the fact that the software can also be used to download illegal software and because it is compared to other "peer-to-peer" software which have a bad reputation and security vulnerabilities.

A note of warning about BitTorrent: it is peer-to-peer software. That means that if someone else is downloading the same file, information might be exchanged between your computer and another (only from that file). This is why BitTorrent works better, but you might be paying for bandwidth that you are not aware of if you don't understand how BitTorrent works. BitTorrent will clearly show you which other computers you are connected to and how much of your file is being uploaded to another computer (for which you might be paying). When your download has finished, be sure to close the BitTorrent program and check that it is not still active in your "task tray" (the little icons next to the time display), unless of course you want to help others that are downloading the same file.

All the downloadable data (and much more) may also be purchased from us on a flash or hard drive. Pricing.

Q:“I get an SQL error: Unable to open database C:\Program Files...
A:“Windows does not allow programs to create files in folders inside C:\Program Files [(x86)]. Folders inside Program Files are not meant to contain any data or documents - only software and static data needed by software. PlanetGIS needs to be able to make changes to the data files of a project and maps that are downloaded still need indexes created from the databases before they can be rendered.

Solution: Put your project (map) files in a directory outside of Program Files e.g. C:\Planet Maps

If your question remains unanswered, please feel free to contact Paul at