Do Download Accelerators Really Work?

Category: Software

I've heard about download accelerator programs that claim to increase download speed by 300 percent or more. Are these scams, or for real? And if they can do that, how does it work? I'd like to know your advice on whether to use one or not.

Download Accelerators

When you click on a link in your Web browser, the browser opens one connection to the destination site and begins downloading the target file through that single connection. It's like getting water through a single hose; only so much water will arrive in a given amount of time. Download accelerators try to use multiple hoses, exploiting one of the features of the HTTP protocol.

HTTP can request specific "ranges" or segments of a file rather than the entire file. This feature lets you resume an interrupted download at the point where it was interrupted, rather than forcing you to download the entire file again. You can also pause a download deliberately and restart it where you left off.
download accelerator

Download accelerators open more than one connection to a Web server. Each connection requests a different range of the target file. So you have multiple parts of a file being downloaded in parallel. As the parts arrive they are assembled into the completed file. You have multiple hoses pouring water into one bucket, so the bucket fills faster… in theory. Several factors can render download accelerators ineffective.

Some Web sites are configured to limit the number of simultaneous connections they will make to a given IP address. Webmasters do this to share their limited supplies of connections and bandwidths fairly among all users. Traffic congestion between a Web server and your browser also limits the effectiveness of download accelerators. Of course, you cannot download any faster than the maximum speed of your Internet connection, either. If, for example, you're on a 5Mbps cable modem connection, a download accelerator isn't going to pull in 10 or 20 Mbps. It'll be 5 Mbps max, if you're lucky.

A few Web servers place bandwidth caps on downloading connections. In such cases, a download accelerator is actually effective because it employs multiple connections to get around the per-connection bandwidth cap. But a smart Webmaster will limit connections per IP address as well as capping bandwidth per connection.

Free Download Accelerators

Some download accelerators, such as the popular (and free) Download Accelerator Plus attempt to find mirror sites that offer the same file you are trying to download. If a mirror site is found, DAP can open connections to multiple servers. This trick skirts a single server's connection and/or bandwidth limits. But finding a mirror site is not always possible.

In my tests, I downloaded the iTunes installer file (77MB) multiple times with and without DAP, using the Firefox, IE8 and Chrome browsers. DAP didn't seem to make much difference in the download times for me, but others rave about it. If you want to try DAP, just be careful that you pay close attention during the install, to opt out of toolbars, unnecessary add-ons, and changes to your browser settings.

If you use the Firefox browser, check out DownThemAll. DownThemAll was originally created as a tool to help you download all the links or images contained in a webpage. It has evolved over the years into a fine download manager which offers acceleration of downloads, and the ability to pause and resume downloads.

One word of caution - malware is sometimes disguised as a download accelerator. Before you download and install any download accelerator, check its reputation via Google. Make sure real-time antivirus software is running on your computer before you download or install any new software. And read the fine print in the Licensing Agreement, to make sure you're not unknowingly giving the program permission to install other things without your consent.

Download accelerators do work, sometimes. But overall, they probably won't dramatically decrease the amount of time you spend waiting for large video or software files to arrive.

Do you have experience with DAP or some other download accelerator? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Do Download Accelerators Really Work?"

Posted by:

Hazel Edmunds
15 Jun 2011

My husband has DAP on his computer and swears by it but I find that some of the downloaded files won't print properly, have unreadable pages and so on. Horses for courses I suppose. I'd certainly endorse your "eliminate the extras" from any and every download else you'll end up with a very cluttered browser and increase the possibility of nasty stuff creeping through.

Posted by:

15 Jun 2011

Internet Download Manager most famously known as IDM is a lot better than any other downloader i have used.
It can even grab videos also from 99% websites
but it is not free you have to buy it.

Use the trial version of IDM and other download accelerators and then decide.I am sure you will go for IDM.

download from here

Posted by:

15 Jun 2011

I've used Free Download Manager and DownThemAll for years, although not as frequently recently. I found the biggest advantage was download resuming--I could pause downloads when I shut down or while someone else needed the bandwidth, and it was invaluable back when I had crappy internet that frequently gave out mid-download...nothing more painful then waiting an hour for a file and watch it all go away when your connection resets for ten seconds. As far as speed goes, I've never noticed anything faster then regular downloads--for those really big files, I look for a torrent anyway. But these types of programs I've grown to like anyway, for the way you can organize your downloads, etc.

Posted by:

Tom S.
15 Jun 2011

Gee, if this doesn't sound like the exact way that 'torrents' work, in that it gets a different portion of the total file from different sources until the complete file has been downloaded. With 'torrent' downloads I have watched the total data download exceeding 2mb/sec.

Posted by:

16 Jun 2011

I have been using FDM(Free Download Manager) pretty much since it first came out.... eons ago:) Its rock solid, and works!

Posted by:

16 Jun 2011

With most PC users these days, having broadband connections, I really don't think that a 'Download Manager' is necessary, at all.

Now, in the days of Dial-Up connections, 'Download Managers' did make a difference. I remember trying to download IE 4 or 5 from Micorsoft, when I had Dial-up and it literally took HOURS, to download. Heaven help you, if, you lost your Dial-Up connection, while downloading, too!!!

Losing your Dial-Up connection was the main reason for using a Download Manager. It was a real lifesaver, in those days. Today, I wouldn't even consider using a Download Manager. I get plenty of speed with my DSL connection. What took HOURS, now takes minutes.

That's my take on the subject. }:O)

Posted by:

16 Jun 2011

I used to swear by Star Downloader back when I had a very slow connection, but now that my ISP is providing around 15 Mb/s an extra downloader is not really necessary.

Posted by:

16 Jun 2011

I've used DAP before, pretty to watch the download but it's not any faster than not using it.

Posted by:

19 Jun 2011

Dear Bob,
I use DAP for some time.But every file is not downloaded by it. Should I adjust settings so that every download will be through DAP? Also, DAP claims "download security". Is it reliable?

Posted by:

Tom Van Dam
21 Jun 2011

I have used both DAP and Free Download Manager. Both work very well for me but the latter uses less memory. Whether they improve the download speed much is one thing but they come in handy for the purpose of downloading more than one file. You can select several files and the programs will take care of downloading them simultaneously or in sequence. I wouldn't be without them.

Posted by:

24 Jun 2011

I too use Internet download Manager and agree it is the best compared to all the others I have used over the years.

Posted by:

24 Jun 2011

It would appear that, from your point of view, the download manager "Nitro", provided by PC Pitstop, is probably not that big of a deal either!?

Posted by:

26 Jun 2011

I have tried DAP and others. I totally agree that with broadband, it doesn't matter for speed. But you get some conveniences. Moreover, Speedbit keep dishing out newer versions that are fake upgrades. Ever since v5.0, their DAP has bugs and if it works, "it's not their fault", you're just lucky.

Posted by:

Lee H
17 May 2012

FlashGet: opens multiple streams. Has ability to limit bandwidth so some can be "reserved" for other activities.

Posted by:

18 Sep 2012

I am from Nepal. The adsl connection I have from Nepal Telecom gives me a download bandwidth of 384 kbps (48 KBps). However, when I download files with DAP, it downloads generally with 106 KBps, more than double that my ISP provides me. I have downloaded Windows 8 RP 3.27 GB in about 10 hours (One night from 10 PM to 8 AM) which is almost impossible with regular download of 40 KBps. How is it possible? I am not manipulating, its genuine question.

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