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What is a Download Manager?

In this article, we will answer the question “What is a download manager?” We’ll explain what a download manager does and the advantage to using one.

Download Manager Defined

A download manager is a computer program or software tool that facilitates downloading of files from the World Wide Web. Many web browsers (such as Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, etc.) have a download manager built in. In comparison, stand-alone download managers usually offer more options to the user such as more control over downloads and prioritizing complete and accurate downloads. Today, because web-browser download managers have improved so much, a stand-alone option is not as necessary.

PCMag offers this download manager definition: A function within a larger program that manages file transfers from a remote device to the user.

Download managers were one of the first adware applications (including torrent clients) to display a banner ad in the user interface. Two other internet programs are related to download managers: file-sharing peer-to-peer (P2P) applications (Gnutella, eMule, BitTorrent) and stream recorders like StreamBox VCR.

Download managers are meant to give users more control over downloads. However, there are some that were created to give control to content distributors instead. Some software businesses provide downloaders so that users can download software right on the business’s own website. This supposedly increases reliability and reduces the software company’s technical support costs. This may also increase the company’s control over redistribution of their software.
Some users have asked, when is it illegal to download a file? The illegal sharing of movies, music, software, and other files has definitely been an issue and concern. Legal Resources states: Not every peer-to-peer network for sharing various forms of media is illegal, and some companies have even found it desirable to begin distributing materials in this fashion. Their article goes on to discuss “Explicitly Legal” (musicians sharing music via torrent or developers sharing open-source builds via torrent), “Public Domain” (works that have expired copyright – safe sources include libraries and universities), and “Explicitly Prohibited” (current television shows and books – if created in the last eighty years, it may still be copyright protected).

If you are interested in learning about available download management software, check out Download Managers Compared.

Features of a Download Manager

These are the most common attributes of a download manager:

  • Maintains a history or record of all files that a user has downloaded.
  • Downloads any type of video.
  • Downloads any type of music or other audio files.
  • Downloads any type of documents.
  • Downloads any type of image.
  • Is compatible with Windows Operating System.
  • Integrates with various browser extensions or plugins.
  • Allows pausing of a download, to resume at a later time, without having to start over.
  • Accelerates download speeds by using multiple, simultaneous connections.
  • Allows scheduling of downloads to start or stop whenever you want.
  • Provides Proxy Server Support. Download using HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, Socks4 or Socks5 proxy servers, and MSS protocols.
  • Allows users to select a batch of files, all at once, to add to the download manager.

To intercept downloads, download managers use asynchronous pluggable protocol (APP) or browser helper object (BHO). Some downloaders use only one of these methods, while others use both methods. 

A download manager allows users to view partially downloaded video files. Also users can create rules for the download manager to follow. A downloader manages files and gives immediate review of downloads.

Benefits of using a Download Manager

If using a stand-alone download manager, you’ll enjoy faster speeds when compared to a web-browser downloader. As mentioned in the features section above, it is convenient to be able to pause a download, and to resume it at a later time, without having to start over. 

Also, if internet users experience loss of electricity or a browser crash or a lost connection, a download manager will resume the download where it was interrupted. These features are important in regions with frequent power failures or spotty internet connections.

Another advantage to using a download manager: It can automatically connect to the Internet at night, when payment rates are lower, to download files. This helps users to stay within the limits of their data plan. The ability to limit the speed of your download is also helpful, especially when there are other users sharing the same internet connection. When downloading very large files, you’ll usually have a better outcome if you use a download manager.


Download managers help users have control over the files that they download. Many web browsers have a built in download manager. There are many useful features common to downloaders. Benefits of a download manager are experienced more by people using the internet in less-than-ideal conditions. Receive a free customized report by participating in our custom Download Managers survey.

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