Back in the day, we used to take advantage of download managers that would help overcome the slow speeds and get those multiple downloads onto a computer without having to take on an overnight babysitting job. Since speeds are no longer a problem, are download utilities even relevant? Of course. Considering the volume of downloads we now do, it's great to have an app that can help keep them from getting lost, corrupt, or out of hand.
But with today's blazing network speeds and multiple platforms to manage, what tools are the best to have at the ready? I've listed five download utilities that might well make your daily download duties hassle free. Let's check out these utilities and see if any are worth adding to your current line up of networking tools.
Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.
uGet (Figure A) is an open source, multi-platform (Windows, Linux, BSD, Android) download manager with plenty of features, including the ability to queue downloads, handle multi-connections, do batch downloads, set speed limits, pause/resume, multi-mirror, and specify global defaults. Since you can download multiple streams, you can easily snag all those ISO images you need quickly, without having to deal with multiple browser tabs open at once.
One uGet feature I particularly like is the ability to create download categories. A category allows you to set certain configuration options so you don't have to always select a specific folder for ISO images, music, video, or documents. You can also set username/password for a category, on the off chance a regular download requires authentication.
2: Chrono Download Manager
Chrono Download Manager (Figure B) is a handy and easy-to-use extension for the Chrome browser. It's tightly integrated with Chrome context menus and toolbars. The context menu integration allows you to quickly add the download to Chrono, where you can name the download, send it to the top of the queue, add remarks, and even start the download in a paused state. Chrono Download also includes a hideable sidebar that offers statistic for your downloads.
Once you've installed Chrono Download, it does take over as the default download manager for Chrome. Like any good Chrome extension, Chrono Download Manager also integrates into the desktop notification system (so you can remain updated on the status of the download). Chrono Download Manager works on all platforms that support Chrome.
3: Advanced Download Manager
Advanced Download Manager (Figure C) is hands down one of the best download managers you will find on the Android platform. With this particular app you can download multiple files at once, download in the background, resume after failure, automatically save different file types in different folders, import links from a text file, and much more. Beyond importing a list of downloads from a text file, you can enter a single URL for downloading a file. You can also specify where the files are downloaded to. (By default they will reside in /storage/emulated/0/ADM.) From within the Settings | Downloads section you can specify the number of threads ADM can use as well as the speed of downloads and the minimum size of a thread.
4: DownThemAll (dTa)
DownThemAll (Figure D) is an extension for Firefox that can help you download a single file or all the links and images contained within a webpage. With a simple right-click on a page, you can open up the dTa window for that page and select what all you want to download. With this handy feature, you can visit a site where you need to do batch downloading, right-click the page, open the dTa manager, select all items you want to download, and get them onto your local storage quickly. There is also a dTa 1-Click option: Simply right-click on a page and select dTa OneClick and everything on the page will be downloaded.
The one caveat is that you can't set a default downloads directory from within the dTa Preferences window—it will default to the Firefox setting. However, from within the dTa selection window (right-click and select DownThemAll), you can set a directory that serves as the dTa default for both dTa and 1-Click. You can change this location on a per-download basis, but only through the dTa selection window. I highly recommend doing this so you don't wind up with a lot of unwanted clutter in your default Downloads directory. DownloadThemAll works on all platforms that support Firefox.
FlashGet (Figure E) is a Windows-only download manager that offers all the features of most every popular tool of its kind. With FlashGet you can split files, use the lowest possible system resources for a download, increase download speeds, handle standard downloads and torrent downloads, set up categories, and even automatically call up your virus protection to check a download before it begins.
One of my favorite FlashGet features is its integration with the Windows clipboard. As soon as you copy a link from a browser, FlashGet opens so you can begin downloading that particular file. Surprisingly enough, the interface for FlashGet is a bit out of date, though this does not, in any way, alter the usability of the tool.
If you're looking for an easy to use tool that will make your download management far more efficient, give one of these apps a go. Whether you're looking for a way to increase your file download speeds, make batch downloads easier, or simply better integrate downloads into the browser, any of these five apps will suit you well.
Do you have a favorite download manager to add to this list? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.