Downloading files from the internet has always been a fairly painful experience, and even today slow servers and network congestion can make downloading big files a real pain. That’s why you need a dedicated download manager, and the unimaginatively-named Free Download Manager is an excellent tool for the task. Free Download Manager enables you to download same file from multiple sources, which means that if one particular server is slow, it can change to the fastest available one instead.
It’s worth noting Free Download Manager’s interesting history; it was originally proprietary software, and was later released under the GNU General Public License (though source code for versions 5 and later isn’t available). As such, you have to be careful where you download it – the link we’ve provided here is to the original vendor, but other distributors are free to bundle it with potentially unwanted programs that could really spoil your day.
You can either drag torrent files into Free Download Manager, or copy the URL of a file and click the plus icon to begin saving it. It really is as straightforward as that. All current and completed file downloads are clearly visible with a thumbnail image, the current speed and a progress bar in a searchable list, making it easy to find the file you want. You can download all kinds of files this way, including YouTube videos (provided you have permission from the copyright holder, of course). Once you’ve pasted a video URL, you’ll be prompted to choose a file name, format, and quality. Then just start downloading. With Free Download Manager, there’s no need for a separate tool for ripping or converting clips from YouTube.
You can adjust how much traffic downloads are accounting for, set priorities for torrents and drag and drop URLs from web browsers, and there are extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Internet Explorer and Safari. There’s also a handy Snail Mode for getting files at slow speeds without closing connections – very useful if you have other work to be getting on with online. Free Download Manager very straightforward and user-friendly, but if you run into any difficulty the project’s forums are an excellent resource. You can also share your ideas for new features here, and report bugs in need of a good squishing. Provided you get it from the original source, Free Download Manager is a superb tool for taking the hassle out of downloads and improving speeds.
Downloads are automatically saved to a folder on your USB drive, but you could opt to change this to a different folder. One option would be to select a folder that is being synchronized using Dropbox or Google Drive so downloads could be automatically synchronized between computers. As with other download managers, downloads can be filtered according to their type and individual transfers can be paused and resumed as required.
Free Download Manager will also allow you to take advantage of browser integration. This is a feature that is disabled by default, but if you are working with the portable version of Firefox you may want to choose to enable it. If you do this, you have to take care to ensure that any locally installed browsers are closed or you may run into problems, but overall this is a competent tool.
Not a program that’s ideally suited to being made portable, but a good enough job has been done to make this worth a look.