Downloading the Internet with Free Download Manager
While I was impressed with the features of Internet Download Manager, I didn’t agree with the cost to features ratio. It seemed a bit excessive to me, so the search began to see what else I could find. It was a nice program, but there are plenty of other apps that resume downloads, spawn multiple threads and organize files as they’re downloaded. That feature set just isn’t worth $24.95. I went through plenty of apps and finally arrived at what I think is a damn nice one that not only has almost all the same features, but actually comes with a price tag of free. Let’s have a look at Free Download Manager.
It’s not the most awe inspiring name, but it packs a lot of punch and the first thing I noticed, it actually looks a lot like IDM. Looks aside, how does it work? I threw a couple of files at it, and had no issues with multiple threads and some slight increases on slower connections and it even worked with sites that frown on download managers – unless of course you buy an account.
For sites with plenty of bandwidth to offer, I was able to sustain around 13MB download speeds on my 10MB connection. On slower or throttled sites, I was still able to get around 200KB which is actually better than normal. In a couple of instances I managed to eek out 500KB. So far that seems like a win.
Files were placed in different folders for Programs, Compressed, Video, etc. That’s not a bad feature so you don’t end up with 5000 files all sitting in the Download directory, which I may or may not have already.
At this point it basically did everything Internet Download Manager could do, so I found myself a bit confused. I got a nice list of files I’d downloaded, I got a bit of a speed increase, I could view and open files from the manager and got some features for scheduling and using the tool as a torrent client should the need arise. So again, why is IDM $25?
One feature that was quite impressive with IDM was it’s ability to download video. And not just from YouTube, but from other places where an embedded stream was detected. I really wasn’t expecting it to work, but Free Download Manager brings up a small "Download" window when you place the mouse over the video itself. I actually didn’t see it the first couple of times because it doesn’t appear right away like it does for IDM. When it did show up, I gave it a go and without a hitch, down came the video. It presented multiple video qualities I could choose which was very familiar.
So far, this was all looking exactly the same as Internet Download Manager. In fact, I was hard pressed to tell the difference. I really only saw one difference and that was related to video downloads. For other "tube" style sites, the Download button didn’t appear. At first, that was disappointing. This free downloader was so close, but then dropped the ball right at the goal line. However, all was not lost.
There is in fact another set of video monitoring options that need to be turned on. They are off by default for compatibility reasons, although I’m not sure with that. But it’s just a checkbox and once selected, some new components are downloaded and the browser needs to be restarted. With that done, a new Download button appeared when a video was detected. Again, you have to hover over the video or the Download option doesn’t show up. This actually seems a little strange, so I’m not sure why they chose to do it this way. But, nevertheless, it worked and worked fine.
All in all, Free Download Manager is a pretty damn impressive app and it just confirms that Internet Download Manager is priced too damn high. Once I turned on the extra monitoring options, the two worked almost the same. The only real drawback was for YouTube videos at the 1080p resolution. Like a lot of other programs it downloads the video and the audio as separate pieces, which I find annoying. IDM is actually able to grab the video and audio as a single file. A bit inconvenient, but not a deal breaker. Other programs like Freemake Video Downloader, which is also free, can grab 1080p and even 4K video from YouTube as a single download. Using this tool to download from YouTube wasn’t my main goal anyway.
So if you’re looking for 99% of the features that Internet Download Manager has to offer, but want a cheaper alternative, Free Download Manager is a heck of a program to try. I have it installed on a couple machines and think it will serve me well.
Free Download Manager – a pretty impressive download tool, which has a familiar UI and loads of features to work with. And hey, it’s free, what could possibly go wrong?
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