File downloads are just a matter of clicking on a link and waiting for the download to finish in most cases. There are however situations where downloads are interrupted so that you end up with a broken file on your system that you cannot do anything with.
Several users who tried to download the excellent Tech Toolkit I reviewed yesterday for example have reported that downloads of the 1.6 Gigabyte archive would fail whenever they tried to download it.
It can be quite frustrating if that happens regularly, especially if your computer's Internet connection is not super fast. If you download with 50 Mbit or more, you may not mind if you have to repeat the download, but if you are on a slower connection, you may very well do.
As far as solutions are concerned, there is only one that is suitable and that is to use download managers. The main benefit of download managers is that they support resume.
While the server the file is hosted on needs to support it as well, it ensures that the download will continue after it was interrupted previously.
Instead of having to download the large file over and over again from the beginning, downloads would restart from where the previous download stopped (with a little overhead).
Download managers may support additional features such as download acceleration, scheduling, or grabbing of media.
Free download managers
The following selection lists several download managers that you can use to download files of any size to your local system. Some integrate into web browsers while others may need to be started manually instead to pick up the downloads.
- A free version of the application needs to be provided.
- The last update cannot date back more than two years.
- It needs to support resume.
- Needs to support Windows.
Available as a full and lite version (lite ships without Bittorrent support, video conversion plugin and languages), it offers to add plugins to Firefox or Chrome. These plugins are not required but they make things easier for users of supported browsers.
Tip: A click on File > Create portable version allows you to create a fully portable version of the download manager.
A right-click on a file and the selection of "download with Free Download Manager" sends the download to the application where it will be processed.
The program supports a variety of features such as scheduling downloads, adding it to groups or authentication.
The download manager splits files into segments which it downloads separately from each other to improve the download speed. In addition to that, it supports resume so that interrupted downloads can be restarted where they stopped.
FlashGet does not ship with browser extensions but it monitors the Windows clipboard for file links and will pick those up automatically so that it is easy to add downloads to the application.
It highlights the size of the file that will be downloaded to the local system, and supports multiple download threads, authentication and options to categorize downloads.
The download manager supports resume so that broken downloads are a thing of the past, provided that the server is also supporting resume.
The EagleGet download manager is available as a portable version and installer. The program monitors the clipboard automatically but can also be integrated into web browsers directly via its universal capture mode.
That's however not necessary to add downloads to it. Since it monitors the clipboard, all you have to do is copy links pointing to files to the clipboard so that they are picked up automatically by the software.
EagleGet ships with a truckload of features such as download scheduling, batch downloads, download acceleration using threading, a speed limiter or options to resume broken downloads.
The Linux download manager is also available as a Windows build. It supports clipboard monitoring to pick up files automatically if they have a matching file extension.
The download dialog that opens prior to that enables you to make modifications to the process. Here you can add authentication information, select the number of retries and the delay between retries, change the number of connections per server, or limit the download speed.
The download manager ships with a browser built-in which makes it feel bloated, especially if you don't require that. It does monitor clipboard events though and will pick up downloads automatically.
It supports the usual feature set, from multi-threaded downloads to speed things up to authentication and the pausing/resuming of downloads.
File Hoster downloads
The programs listed in this category have been designed specifically for so-called file hosting services. They download files from sites such as Mediafire or Mega.
Note: Programs listed in this category may contain offers (adware) when you install them. It is highly recommended to pay attention to the installation dialog and select custom when possible to stay in control.
Free Rapid Downloader - The program requires Java to run. It supports more than 700 sites according to the feature list on the developer website. In addition to that, it ships with captcha recognition, proxy lists, and other comfortable features such as automatic shutdown of the computer or support for streaming videos.
JDownloader - The program supports hundreds of file hosting services but requires Java to run. It monitors the clipboard and will add downloads automatically to its queue if they are hosted on a supported server. The cross-platform program supports many extra features such as support for premium accounts, browser integration, OCR modules or the automatic extraction of password protected archives.
MiPony - The program supports hundreds of file hosting services and extra features just like JDownloader does. This includes support for several captcha plugins to automate the process of filling those out, web remote control options, and automatic database updates to avoid issues with select hosts. Note: may be blocked as malicious by some browsers / antivirus programs, therefore, no link.
PyLoad - The program does not support as many hosters as JDownloader or MiPony, but it may make up for it in other ways. It has been designed with low hardware requirements in mind, and while it makes sure of that, it does not sacrifice core functionality for it.
With that said, it is difficult to set up as you need to run a configuration script first (on the command line) and run a core program first before you can connect clients to it.
Which one is best?
|Program Name||Portable||Resume||Monitoring||Remote Access||Schedule||Other features|
|EagleGet||yes||yes||yes||no||yes||Traffic limits, download acceleration, video downloader, silent mode|
|FlashGet||no||yes||yes||no||no||Traffic limits,download acceleration Bittorrent support, Emule support|
|Free Download Manager||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes||Traffic limits, partial zip downloads, HTML spider, download acceleration, Bittorrent support|
|GetGo Download Manager||no||yes||yes||no||yes||Traffic limits, download acceleration, web video downloads|
|uGet||yes||yes||yes||no||yes||Traffic limits, download acceleration, command line version,|
There is no definitive answer to that question. It depends on what you require more than anything else. Do you want integration into web browsers or is clipboard monitoring or manual pasting of download links sufficient?
Do you require features such as support for authentication or proxy servers, scheduling or support for protocols such as Bittorrent or ftp?
With all that said, Free Download Manager gets our recommendation.
Commercial Alternative: Internet Download Manager