From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A download manager is a computer program designed to download files from the Internet, unlike a web browser, which is mainly intended to browse webpages on the World Wide Web (with file downloading being of secondary importance).
There are several things that some web browsers are not very good at. That's where the download managers enter the equation:
- Pausing the downloading of large files.
- Resuming broken or paused downloads (especially for very large files).
- Downloading files on poor connections.
- Downloading several files from a site automatically according to simple rules (file types, updated files, etc. - see also Offline Browser).
- Automatic recursive downloads (mirroring).
- Scheduled downloads (including, automatic hang-up and shutdown).
- Searching for mirror sites, and the handling of different connections to download the same file more quickly (Segmented downloading).
Download managers are useful for active Internet users. For dial-up users, they can automatically dial the internet service provider at night, when rates or tariffs are usually lower, download the specified files, and hang-up. They can record which links the user clicks on during the day, and queue these files for later download. For broadband users, download managers can help download very large files by resuming broken downloads, by limiting the download capacity used, so that the user's browsing is not affected much and the server is not overloaded, or by automatically browsing a site and downloading content specified by user (photo galleries, MP3 collections, etc.), including automatically downloading whole sites and regularly updating them.
Most download managers today integrate seamlessly with popular web browsers, and are extremely easy to use. Clicking on a link in a browser automatically starts the download in the download manager. One of the most popular Firefox extensions, called FlashGot, provides the open source browser with even better integration and fine grained control over the external download manager. For power users, additional features are available, such as scheduling, traffic shaping, virus-checking, and cataloguing.
See below for some examples of commonly used download managers. Some downloaders are optimized for a certain function. For example, Offline Explorer is designed to download entire websites.
Download managers, such as GoZilla, were among the first adware applications displaying a banner ad in the user interface.
Related to download managers are two other breeds of Internet programs, file-sharing peer-to-peer applications (Kazaa, eMule, BitTorrent, Gnutella) and stream recorders (such as StreamBox VCR).
While download managers are designed to give users greater control over downloads, some downloaders are created to give that control to content distributors instead. Some software companies, for example Adobe , provide such downloaders for downloading software on their own site. Presumably this increases reliability and reduces tech support costs to them. A possible reason is increasing the control over redistribution of their software (even when the software is freeware).
- List of download managers
- Comparison of download managers
- Offline Browser
- Review of download managers (this article is from 2003)