Do You Need a Download Manager?

Category: Software

A reader asks: “I download files often, and sometimes wonder if I should be using one of those 'download manager' or 'download accelerator' programs that are promoted online. What exactly do they do, and should I use one?” Here's what you need to know...

What is a Download Manager?

A download manager is a program that makes downloading files faster, easier, and more reliable. Most people don’t need a download manager, but under the right circumstances such software can be very useful.

If you routinely download many files, a download manager will save you significant amounts of keystrokes as well as time. If you live in a rural area with relatively slow and unreliable Internet service, a download manager will make the best use of your scarce resources. Here is how download managers work.

First, a download manager helps you prioritize, schedule, and organize your downloads. You may want a particular file that’s updated daily in the wee hours of the morning. Or you might want to download a large file while you're away from the computer, so it doesn't slow down anything else.
Download accelerators

A download manager can be scheduled to start a download at a specified time, and even shut down your PC when the download is completed.

Some download managers can detect when a file has been freshly created or updated and download it automatically. Download managers can save files of different types or name patterns to different folders automatically.

In these and other ways, a download manager can save you personal effort and thought.

Hitting the Accelerator...

Downloads on third-party sites are often bundled with adware or other unwanted programs, and may even be infected with malware. Be careful during installation to uncheck boxes that permit installation of toolbars and other unwanted software. See Downloading? Watch Out For These Danger Signs to learn more about foistware and safe downloading.

And of course, make sure you have a dependable anti-virus program before downloading anything. Here are my recommended Free Anti-Virus Programs

The worst part of downloading is the wait time, of course. All download managers include “accelerator” techniques that make more efficient use of the bandwidth available to your PC. Many Web sites limit the amount of bandwidth they allocate to a browser’s connection, so a download manager may open multiple connections and use their combined bandwidth allocations to download a file faster. A similar technique opens connections to multiple sites on which the same file resides, downloading parts of the file from each and assembling them on your hard drive.

Dozens of download managers are available online. Five of the most well-reviewed download managers are:

Download Accelerator Plus by Speedbit promises to boost your download speed by 300% and integrates seamlessly into the Internet Explorer browser. DAP starts automatically when you click any download link, and includes an optional video player that lets you watch video files as they are downloading.

Flashget for Windows is reputed to download files up to six times faster than an unassisted Web browser. It supports Bittorrent peer-to-peer downloads, too.

Internet Download Manager features error recovery and the ability to resume or restart downloads that are interrupted by network problems, or unexpected computer shutdowns. IDM captures YouTube and MySpace TV streaming videos to files. It integrates with most browsers and has a simple user interface.

Free Download Manager is an open-source project maintained and supported by volunteers. They’re all geeks, so the user interface is geeky and untidy. But the program has lots of geeky options including capture of Flash videos and Bittorrent support.

GetRight can resume interrupted downloads when they left off, a handy feature if your Internet connection (or the download site) is unreliable. It even supports automatic launch of dial-up Internet connections, and includes its own browser.

A word to the wise: I've given the developer website links for each of the download managers listed above, so you don't accidentally download a fake or adulterated version of the software. I encourage you to use those links, to be sure you're getting the real thing.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Do You Need a Download Manager?"

Posted by:

Terry Hollett
17 Mar 2015

I haven't used a download manager in a long time but I admit they where a god send when I only had a dial up connection years ago.

Posted by:

Bev Winchester
17 Mar 2015

I have been using Free Download Manager. I now get large downloads on the first try instead of an error message because it has timed out. Yes, we live in a rural area where we have only one, very overloaded service to choose from.

Posted by:

Graham Marshall
17 Mar 2015

I regularily use a download manager and currently use Internet Download manager which is most reliable, when firefox is not switching and changing it's system every month thus causing add-ons to be updated constantly.
very good.

Posted by:

17 Mar 2015

I'm in the group, that once relied on a Download Manager, to get my downloads ... Back when I had Dial-Up!!!

Haven't needed to use one, since, March 2000, when I got my first DSL modem. Download Managers really did save the day, way back then. I can't tell you, how many times, I would start to download, especially, a MS Security Update (which literally took hours, back then), to only find out that my connection was lost!!!

Good Download Managers, could start right when the download was stopped, so that you didn't have to start all over, again!!!

Posted by:

17 Mar 2015

I haven't used a download manager for more than a year (maybe two), but they can be very useful. Sadly, I forgot the name of the one I used, though it was free and worked very well. I think the greatest benefit was that it would check for mirror sites in order to speed up the process. This was especially useful for large (3 GB+) files. Not only did it speed up the download, it effectively stopped the "timed out" error. This functionality allows for download performance similar to that of the torrent protocol - except without the need for a large swarm of seeders.

Posted by:

Don Gilcrease
17 Mar 2015

I have used all the managers listed in the article, but find JDownloader and Mipony more convenient for what I need.

Posted by:

Charles MacDonald
18 Mar 2015

When a web browser will not cut it, I use wget. which is available for most operating sytems including Windows:
( )

while not a do all application typing wget and the URL of a file will happily place a copy of the file in the current directory no mater how many retries are required.

Most Linux distributions have wget already installed by default.

Posted by:

18 Mar 2015

File Hippo is now adding pups to its downloads Bob.

I use IDM these days used to have Download Accelerator that's good too - My Online Armour Firewall is not keen on IDM for some reason and Firefox as said already updates constantly so IDM.

Posted by:

18 Mar 2015

File Hippo adding PUPs??? What is going one with download websites???!!!

During a previous commenting, one reader talked about a small program called Unchecky. I have been using it, ever since. It does work and works well. Read about Unchecky at:

I can only say ... It works!!!

Posted by:

23 Mar 2015

I used your link to get Download Accelerator Plus - after unchecking the box to change my home page and search engine. Seemed every time I wanted to download something it wanted to add another "extension", or if I sought a function it was "only available in the Plus edition".

Yes, I know you give a very big straight warning about about dubious conduct in a box right beside the download list - but it would be better if you at least took a look at these things rather than relying on other folks recommendations. It would save us having to delete a lot of crap.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I did try out DAP, and didn't experience the same issues. If I did, I would have mentioned it.

Posted by:

21 Aug 2015

DAP Downlad Accelerator Plus is crapware
it has a history of downloading megabytes of advert files to a computer and serving them from hidden files and folders.
it hides in many registry locations
Back when dial up was most used trying to remove using all available removal services like Spybot, Ad Aware, SAS etc would not get it all.
Don't trust them

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