Download managers make the process of downloading from the internet not simpler and easier, but instead offer better management options which can include faster downloads.
After all, simply clicking on a download link is about as easy as it gets when it comes to downloads, but if you find yourself having to download multiple files frequently you can find the ordinary method of downloading becomes jammed and bottle-necked.
This is where download managers come into their own, offering the ability to manage downloads much more easily. This can include setting up priorities for downloads based on name or file type, in order to ensure the most important files are download first.
Most offer download scheduling, and there are numerous extras such as BitTorrent support, batch downloading, a range of security features, file previewing, and support for compressed file formats to look out for. Whether you're looking for a standalone piece of software, or something that ties into your preferred web browser, there's so much choice that it can be difficult to know where to start.
If you're struggling to decide which tool you should use, read on to find out what we think are the best free download managers out there.
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Best free download manager - at a glance
- Ninja Download Manager
- Free Download Manager
- Download Accelerator Plus
Ninja Download Manager is a relative newcomer to the downloading party, and it looks considerably more contemporary than its, er, contemporaries.
Its interface is simple and modern (if a little dark), and its accelerator can help you get your files 10 times faster. It does this by splitting each file into chunks, then downloading each one using a different server connection, making downloads not only faster, but also more reliable. If you're into music and movies you'll be delighted by its sequential setting, which lets you begin playing a file while it's still downloading.
There's also a built-in video downloader with support for YouTube and Vimeo, and a video converter that changes the file format automatically once it's finished downloading.
There are lots of fantastic options around, but if you love music, films and TV then Ninja Download Manager is the tool for you.
Note that the link to download the free version of Ninja Download Manager is at the very bottom of the developer's homepage.
Read our Ninja Download Manager review here.
Free Download Manager aims to be all things to all people – and succeeds. It's a download accelerator, a BitTorrent client, an audio and video previewer and a traffic management tool, and because it's open source, it's completely free and receives regular updates from its community of developers.
It includes powerful scheduling features and a very handy remote control that means you can leave your downloads running and check on their progress from any internet-connected device.
It can spider sites to download specific kinds of files, and you can choose to download only the bits of a ZIP file you actually want. It's an exceptional program, and it was tough to choose between this and Ninja Internet Download Manager for the top spot.
Read our Free Download Manager Review here.
The free version of Download Accelerator Plus is a pared-back version of the premium edition, but it's much more than just a demo and contains all the essential features you need for quick, reliable downloads.
The free version lacks the DAP Premium's privacy protection, but it does include a link checker, video previewing, file conversion, safe downloading and multiple connections to boost the speed of your downloads.
Download Accelerator Plus is clearly designed for media fans, and can help you avoid irritations such as slow servers and internet congestion.
If you'd like the premium version, a licence costs $18.95, but if you add the video accelerator as well it comes to $23.95.
JDownloader is a free, open source download manager with a massive developer community, and it's available for Windows, Linux and Mac.
You'll need the Java Runtime Environment to run it, and you'll have to be careful when installing it: the installer contains adware, which will be bundled in with the download manager if you don't specifically deselect it. Also beware fake 'download' buttons on the site; the actual download link is a line of text.
Read our JDownloader review here.
A smart, modern download manager
Compatible with all browsers
EagleGet is a smart, modern download manager that makes downloading all kinds of media files a piece of cake. It boasts accelerated downloads, automatic malware checking, automatic and batch downloads, and lots more features besides.
EagleGet's browser extension works with Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer, identifying downloadable content on pages and letting you grab it with a couple of clicks.
Any open browser windows will be closed when you install EagleGet, so make sure you've saved any works in progress before you begin.
Read our EagleGet review here.