Sunday 1 July 2007

Free Download Manager


The title is the actual name of a program. It is, well, a free download manager... (You can get it at http://www.freedownloadmanager.org/download.htm).
I had been using GetRight for a long time as my download manager. Must say it did quite a good job. But I was sticking to it not because I loved it or anything; I had just gotten used to it. Then, as I told you before, I decided not to use any pirated software. So, I downloaded the Free Download Manager. I must admit that I wasn't expecting much. After all, it's totally free, and not that popular anyway...
But FDM (that's what they call it) totally exceeded my expectations.
First thing, it is not at all intrusive. Occupying about 1% of my RAM, it just sits quietly on the system tray waiting for my command.
When I click on the system tray icon, the FDM main window pops up. The user interface of the window is good, simplistic and well thought out. Add a URL to download? Click the + button. Schedule the download? Click the clock. Intuitive? You bet!
FDM also has the clipboard monitoring and browser click monitoring facilities I've become very much used to (Note: I'm not sure if these options are enabled by default, but they are available by just right-clicking on the system tray icon).
Whenever I click a downloadable link on my browser (for eg. a zip or exe file), FDM understands I want to download the file, and pops up. The window contains the link I clicked, the place where FDM will download it, and a button to check whether the link leads to a malicious download, among other things.
However, there is one caveat: files are marked as malicious or not by people like you and me (not by security experts), so they are not always reliable. A few times, I get a false alarm that the download is malicious. So, my suggestion would be to ignore a warning if only a small percentage of users have marked it as malicious, and pay serious attention only if a majority of users warn about the download.
Sometimes, people just place the address to a download on a web page, without actually making it a clickable. FDM is intelligent enough to handle these too. Just select the address, right-click and copy. FDM springs up and asks where to save the file...
And while the file is downloading, you can just move to your browser and continue surfing the net.
On the other hand, if you choose to remain in FDM, there are quite a few things you can do.
The first tab at the bottom of the window, the log, shows textual messages about the progress of the download.
The second tab in it is one of my favourites: it shows the progress of the parts of the file. Click on the screenshot above and take look at it to see what I mean. From a utilitarian point of view, it isn't terribly useful, but it just thrills me to be able to see an exe or zip file being 'filled' by bytes from some server somewhere. :)
And if you happen to be downloading audio or video, you can preview it from within FDM itself - that is the next tab.
The last tab is the 'opinions' tab, where you get to look at the opinions of others who have downloaded this same file. In most cases, this is useful only to get a fuzzy idea of how the downloaded file is going to be; however, in some cases (especially when downloading antivirus or firewall software) these opinions give very useful info about any possible incompatibilities. This way, you know beforehand how to tackle any problems you might face.
And last but not least, FDM manages to do what I mean (DWIM) most of the time. It does not try to be over-intelligent and annoying, and yet manages a very good job of helping me out. In these days of overly bloated programs filled with unnecessarily features, stumbling across this kind of simple, yet powerful programs is becoming quite rare. Kudos to the makers of this wonderful program...

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