Best Free Download Manager

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Introduction

There comes a time when you are downloading a large file and the download stops part of the way through. If you are using the Windows download applet there is nothing you can do about it; you will just have to start again. A good download manager will allow you to resume the download, picking up where it left off.

Good download managers also allow you to start several concurrent download sessions from available resources for the one file. This works by splitting the file into parts with each part downloaded at the same time from multiple or mirrored resources. At the end the file is re-assembled, like "joining pieces of me to become me" by the download managers.

This can result in dramatic improvements in download speed given a transmission speed limited by Internet service providers.

Below are a few free download managers short listed for review based on the basic requirements including:

  • Speed, or lapsed time to download a file
  • Interface with clipboard, web browsers and supported protocols
  • Management of downloaded files
  • Other features 
 
Discussion

Free Download ManagerFree Download Manager is a popular download manager and a good choice for its stability, nice user interface and support for various browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari.

The program offers simultaneous multi-part downloads from several mirrors to increase the download speed, with a powerful scheduler to start and pause downloading files at the preset time.

It also features downloads from RapidShare, prioritized and partial torrent downloads, adjusting traffic usage, flash video download and an upload manager. Management of downloaded files is well supported.

Upon installation of the application, uncheck 'install Software Informer' if you don't need it. A lite version of the program is also available with optional plugins.

GetGo Download ManagerApart from downloading various types of files, GetGo Download Manager helps download your favorite videos from YouTube and other websites with embedded FLV flash videos with one-click.

It integrates with IE and Firefox browsers. With the program, you can easily set up a batch download using an URL pattern template and rename downloaded files automatically using a filename pattern template. Other features such as download scheduler, resume broken downloads, managing downloaded files, etc., are included.

The program has optional Standard and Search toolbars in the user interface. Upon installation, it adds a GetGo Toolbar into your browser, but that can be disabled.

FlashGetFlashGet download manager is also worth a try as it is designed for speed and management of downloaded files.

It increases the download speed by applying multi-server hyper-thread technology and supports HTTP, FTP, BT, eMule and other various protocols.

FlashGet provides download monitoring for Internet Explorer and also integrates well with Firefox's FlashGot extension. It supports unlimited categories for managing downloaded files.

Upon first running of the program after installation, it shows a 'recommended message' on the right panel, but that can be easily disabled.

 

Download Manager for multi-platform

UgetUget is a cross-platform program designed to be simple, lightweight and easy to use.

It's an open source application written in GTK+. Debian and RPM packages are readily available for download and installation, but for Windows users, the GTK+ runtime environment needs to install separately before running the program.

The program supports pause, resume and queue downloads, and classification of download files, monitors clipboard and integrates with Firefox browser via FlashGot plugin. Other features include batch download and import downloads from html files.

MultiGetAs an alternative, MultiGet is an open source and easy-to-use download manager for multi platforms including Windows and Linux. It runs on most desktops without any configuration.

The program accelerates the download by multi-tasking with multi-threading on multi servers and supports http/ftp protocols which meet the requirements of most users.

It provides management of downloaded files in a good GUI interface, monitors the clipboard well but does not integrate with browsers.

Other useful features include multi-language support, optional auto MD5 check and reconfiguring the thread number without stopping the current task.

 

Browser Addons

FlashGot is a Firefox's addon which allows you to set your own preferred download manager and integrate it with the Firefox browser for auto download. The addon by itself also helps you to download many files on a web page at one go.

oGet, also known as DM Bridge, is a Chrome's extension to integrate the Chrome browser with an external download manager of your choice, with optional settings for the integration mode and context menu.

DownThemAll is another browser extension to add advanced download capabilities to Firefox. This add-on is useful if you are using Firefox and need to download many files on a web page at one go. However, when you need to download a single large file it's much slower than a standalone download manager.

 
Other Download Managers

Several other free download managers were brought up in comments here or noted from other sources. As they are not rated in this review, I am listing some of them here with brief descriptions and links to their sites for ease of reference.

  • Internet Download Accelerator, the free version offers general features of a download manager but comes with an ad panel which cannot be disabled. It also prompts for an upgrade to the commercial Pro version.
  • Gigaget utilizes cutting-edge Net Grid technology to tap the unused resources of networked PCs and servers to improve your download speed. This program is no more supported by the developer. It occasionally prompts an 'about:blank' error message after a browser's home page is set to blank.
  • Download Accelerator Plus (free) is a toned down version of the commercial DAP Premium, but basic features are available such as multi-connections to download sites, mirror search, etc. It has an active 'information pane' at the right panel which can't be disabled.
  • Star Downloader Free accelerates your downloads by splitting files into parts and downloading them from mirror sites. It is also a toned down version without some of the useful features available in the commercial Star Downloader Pro, such as a link leecher.
  • MetaProducts Download Express, a small application weighing in at about 680 KB, supports IE and Firefox browsers and allows you to download individual files from the Web and FTP sites with multiple channels technology. It features a Projects list without classification of downloaded files. Download speed is slower than the top-picked download manager.
  • LeechGet (Personal Edition) is a free download manager for non-commercial use only. It provides common download features and limits the number of simultaneous downloads to one only. The unlimited number of downloads is available to its commercial premium version.
  • Fresh Download offers several useful features such as turbo-charged downloads, pause and resume, multiple connections, integration with browsers, clipboard monitoring, categorized download, etc. Upon obtaining the software, you will be asked to enter your name and email address to get free codes to unlock the software. This program does not display the original names of some downloaded files when a download link is manually added.
  • SKDownloader is a java based download accelerator for Linux, Windows and other platforms, supports for simultaneous multi-part download, http and ftp protocols, Firefox and IE integration. It comes with an advertisement panel which cannot be disabled.
  • JDownloader lacks classification of downloaded files but makes downloading files from One-Click-Hosters like Rapidshare.com or Megaupload.com easier for users with a premium or a free account.
  • KooLoader, a slimmed down version of the paid for product, lacks classification of downloaded files and encountered couple of download sluggishness when tried.
 
Quick Selection Guide

Free Download Manager
4.5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Stable; support for IE, Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari; simultaneous multi-part downloads; flash video download; restart and recover; powerful scheduler; management of downloaded files
3.0
6.53 MB
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows 95 to 7
GetGo Download Manager
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Download FLV flash videos with one-click; integrate with IE and Firefox; batch download using template; auto rename; download scheduler; managing downloaded files
Install toolbar into browsers; integrate optional Search toolbar into user interface
http://www.getgosoft.com
4.5.2
4.7 MB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP to Windows 7
Uget
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Open source and cross platforms, designed to be simple, lightweight and easy to use. Supports pause and resume, queue and classification of download files, monitors clipboard and Firefox with <a href="#FlashGot">FlashGot</a> Plugin.
Requires GTK+ run environment to download and install separately for Windows users.
http://urlget.sourceforge.net/
1.5
1.4 MB
Open source freeware
Linux (Debian and RPM packages); Windows XP to Windows 7 with GTK+ runtime environment
FlashGet
3.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Increases speed with hyper-thread technology, support various protocols, monitor IE, integrate with <a href="#FlashGot">FlashGot</a> extension to Firefox, managing downloaded files.
A recommended message on the right panel needs to disable upon first use
1.9.6
4.44 MB
Open source freeware
Windows 95 to Windows Vista
MultiGet
3.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Open source and supports multi platforms; multi-task with multi-thread on multi-server to speed up downloads; clipboard monitoring with a good GUI interface; optional auto MD5 check
Lacking integration with browsers
http://multiget.sourceforge.net/
1.1.2
5.3 MB
Open source freeware
Windows and Linux

 
Editor

This software category is maintained by volunteer editor George.J. Registered members can contact the editor with any comments or questions they might have by clicking here.

  "I've used TechSupportAlert and the older Support Alert Newsletter for almost a decade so I have saved hundreds of hours of work and many more dollars by following Gizmo's Freeware recommendations. Thanks for the opportunity to give something back."  

If you have had a similar experience then you should consider becoming a reviewer too.

 
Change Log
Date Change Editor
September 2013 Removed Orbit Downloader Remah
October 2011 No change to content. Update Quick Selection Guide to new database. Remah
June 2010 Major update  
 
Tags

download manager, free download manager, download, downloader, freeware, free download

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Comments

by moxin on 4. June 2012 - 21:33  (94402)

I came here to thank for suggesting 'oGet'.
I for one had a headache while searching for something like that for chrome.
Thanks again.

by Brolly (not verified) on 4. June 2012 - 7:17  (94371)

I just wanted to say Freedownloadmanager has been great for me. I use it for my regular downloads which it almost always grabs from google chrome as well as my torrents. It's much nicer to consolidate both programs in to one. Also it has been very light on resources for me on my netbooks and the speeds have been great.

The only issue I have with it is that it doesn't support magnet links as of yet. But I can get by without that until they provide support for it.

by binumathew on 3. April 2012 - 15:11  (91618)

It seems Free Download Manager is not compatiable with Firefox latest versions. Could you please check

by hint (not verified) on 7. April 2012 - 22:20  (91757)

I dont know what you mean, but you could use flashgot addon which works perfectly

by George.J on 3. April 2012 - 1:56  (91595)

Orbit downloader offers change in homepage during installation, checked by default. Be careful.

by Grumpigeek (not verified) on 16. March 2012 - 5:26  (90684)

I hope they make one of these free download managers like FDM or Orbit fully compatible with 64-bit browsers soon.

by Anupam on 8. March 2012 - 8:11  (90085)

Orbit Downloader has a new version : 4.1.0.4

Their official download is from BrotherSoft, and I downloaded from there. It looks like Orbit might have either tied up with BrotherSoft, or, maybe that BrotherSoft have messed up with the install. But, now, OrbitDownloader shows a small ad of BrotherSoft in the LHS of their main window.

Also, there is now a new option under Preferences, in "General" .. of "Daily Giveaway Notification". I suspect it might be from BrotherSoft again.

Further, now, when Orbit's window for starting a new download appears, it shows an ad on the top. Its intrusive.

And OpenCandy is there as before.

I thought that the install from BrotherSoft might have been bad.. so I downloaded from Softpedia. But, its the same. Still displaying BrotherSoft and other ads.

I would urge other users to download from Softpedia, or any other site to see if this can be avoided.. but it may also be that Orbit have indeed tied up with BrotherSoft for all this nonsense.

Maybe its time to go back to Free Download Manager... or any other good one if Remah discovers one :).

by Anupam on 8. March 2012 - 8:17  (90086)

It now also shows an ad in the notification window for completed downloads. Looks like Orbit has gone to the dogs!

by Anupam on 16. March 2012 - 9:05  (90689)

Well, there is no Brothersoft ad being displayed now.. anywhere in Orbit. Maybe it's visible only for the first time of use? Strange.

The option for Daily Giveaway Notification is still there in the Prefrences though.

by Anupam on 19. March 2012 - 12:53  (90832)

Update again. Today, when I started a download, suddenly, the ad appeared in the download window like before, and then Orbit just crashed. Subsequent attempts to start Orbit failed, and it kept crashing.

It was enough for me. I have now switched over to FreeDownloadManager. There are some peculiarities which I don't like in FDM, including the outdated GUI, but it remains clean, and does the job well.

by MidnightCowboy on 8. March 2012 - 8:56  (90088)

BrotherSoft is now listed as an official partner on the Orbit blog. There is also a website containing the names jointly which is red rated by WOT.

by Anupam on 8. March 2012 - 9:06  (90089)

Ah! So that explains it!

by Dogsbody (not verified) on 4. February 2012 - 10:27  (88278)

I downloaded and installed 'Free Download Manager', no problem, but it will not work. Keeps asking for other downloads such as .Net, which are already on my computer. Out it went!

by Remah on 11. February 2012 - 10:02  (88665)

This does not make sense because Free Download Manger is not a .NET application.

To make sure I checked with Dependency Walker that it doesn't depend upon mscor* libraries/dlls. I double checked by installing it and running it. SysInternals Process Explorer shows .NET applications in a yellow highlight. It wasn't highlighted.

by Yu raj (not verified) on 13. January 2012 - 5:51  (87107)

Thanks.

by Anupam on 28. December 2011 - 8:10  (86119)

After a long long time, Free Download Manager has been updated. The new version : 3.8.1173 final is now available on their site :D

by Mona (not verified) on 20. December 2011 - 5:54  (85342)

Here is a simple download manager extension for Google chrome:

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/mcceagdollnkjlogmdckgjakjapmkdjf

by vladik (not verified) on 18. December 2011 - 13:12  (85231)

Very good download manager is free VSO Downloader.
Actual version : VSO Downloader 2.0.2.2
High speed, multiprotocol, with adblocker, all browsers.
many languages.

Home page:

http://www.vso-software.fr/products/downloader/vso-downloader.php

by Anupam on 18. December 2011 - 13:43  (85232)

Its mainly a streaming media downloader. Don't think it will be suitable here.

by Remah on 18. December 2011 - 22:02  (85250)

Thanks Anupam.

Yes, it is not a general download manager but a specialized video downloader. At present this category doesn't include such software but I might in a later update. The closest category we have is Best Free Streaming Media Recorder but that is for recording any video stream whether downloadable or not.

by Anupam on 19. December 2011 - 9:53  (85274)

I think a separate category would be better for such software. This can be covered in BF Streaming Media Recorder I feel, not here.

Also, a separate category could be for video downloaders, which download videos from YouTube, Vimeo etc. I keep coming across such software a lot.

by johnmooore (not verified) on 13. November 2011 - 16:55  (83217)

Free download manager from http www freedownloadmanager org is malware: Adware.Win32

by Remah on 30. November 2011 - 22:19  (84191)

If you are going to accuse a product of being malware then you should also tell us how you know this. Otherwise your comment will appear to be flaming Free Download Manager.

What products said it has identified malware?
- Tell us the name and version of the scanner.
- If you used an online scanner then also give us the URL.
Were you scanning the website or the download file?
- Tell us the URL or filename that was scanned.

If you haven't scanned yourself then you're often reporting someone elses error, as appears to be case here.

A web search reveals that Emsisoft identifies Adware.Win32 in Free Download Manager but their report has no date nor file details. That was in 2007 and, as far as I can see, no other anti-malware product has done the same, either then or since. The exceptions are supposed anti-malware sites that are themselves sources of malware.

Although it is still recorded in the Emsisoft database, I doubt that any problem exists now, if it ever did, because FDM is open source and the Emsisoft 5.1.0.11 scanner used by VirusTotal (online scanner) found no problem.

My anti-virus and other protection haven't alerted me to any problems. But to comfort the fearful, I ran the following scans today and found no problems:

Scanned the FDM website using URL scanners:
- VirusTotal
- URLVoid

Scanned the install files with VirusTotal:
- fdminst.exe Version 3.0.852 (I took the results from an earlier scan on 2011-11-29 11:15:35 (UTC))
- fdm38inst.exe Version 3.8 Release candidate

by John Litzinger (not verified) on 30. November 2011 - 16:09  (84178)

I have been using Free Download Manager for close to a decade now, and I have not seen a single ad from it in those ten years. I have also used over a dozen virus and malware scanners in that time and have had no alerts about this program. It is an excellent program, and I have no complaints about it.

by Remah on 30. November 2011 - 21:43  (84190)

Thanks for your reply. My experience is similar.

I'd forgotten to respond to johnmoore.

by leograyson on 2. November 2011 - 1:19  (82547)

Unfortunately ORBIT has not kept up with FireFox, and no longer integrates with FF. The last two (or maybe three) versions of FireFox automatically disable the addon.

The Orbit forum is useless and has been taken over by spammers, and posting a bug report seems to be a waste of time too. I wonder if development for it has been dropped, or at least put on the back burner.

Pity, because it is (was) a very good manager, but without the right click context menu it is much less convenient to use, so I'm going to give Free Download Manager a try.

by Anupam on 2. November 2011 - 7:10  (82557)

Use the FlashGot add-on, which integrates different download managers with Firefox. I have been using it for years, along with Orbit Downloader, and do not face any problem.

by leograyson on 2. November 2011 - 21:59  (82618)

Thanks for that tip Anupam, I will give it a try.

Perhaps you could also answer another question about orbit which has bothered me for some time.

A few months ago I had a problem trying to integrate Orbit with a new version of FF, so I uninstalled Orbit completely, with Revo Uninstaller, and did a clean re-install.
I expected to have to reset my preferences, but they were all set exactly the same as before.

So as a test, I uninstalled Orbit again with Revo on it's "advanced" setting, next I ran C-Cleaner, then did a search and found no sign of anything related to Orbit.
But when I reinstalled again, all my settings were just as they had been.

So, do Orbit keep a file somewhere, with my IP and other details about me, or is there a file somewhere on my PC which keeps this info, but does not use "orbit" in it's name.
Any ideas or suggestions ??.

Thanks, Leo.

by Anupam on 3. November 2011 - 5:38  (82638)

That's strange. It should have reset the preferences. The preferences and other things are stored in a folder which you can find here :

C:\Documents and Settings\{UserName}\Application Data\Orbit

Maybe that is not getting deleted. Just check.

by mr6n8 on 3. November 2011 - 21:02  (82666)

Just a note to point out that at default the AppData folders are hidden.

Easiest way to get there on XP is Start>Run>and type %appdata% and on 7 Start>and type %appdata% in the search box and you will see Roaming, which is the AppData folder.

Steve

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