[Windows] Free Download Manager is an excellent portable, open source download manager

FDMI, like many users, favour Google Chrome as their standard web browser of choice, and who can blame us, the new iteration currently ranks highest in startup and navigation time. There is a downside to using it, though. It probably has the worst download management out of all the top browsers. Not to pick on Chrome, however, because most browsers could have better integrated download management. Until that time happens when browsers up their game in download management, applications like the Free Download Manager have a gap to fill.

What Is It and What Does It Do

Main Functionality

Free Download Manager is a free web download management tool for Windows. What that means is it plugs into your browser to reroute and manage your downloads. You can pause, stop and continue your downloads in a batch or one by one. It also comes with a great list of auxiliary functions that the average user may never use but still makes you proud to be part of the open source community.

Pros

  • A great myriad of tools and functions
  • A great online community to share suggestions and opinions with
  • Integrates well with a variety of web browsers
  • Organizes your downloads according to type and records a history for each download
  • You can dictate how much bandwidth and traffic it uses
  • You can use it to download from multiple servers and choose how many connections you want for each download
  • You can use it to manage torrent downloads
  • Has a great list of settings and options, which can be used to optimize it to run on your computer.
  • Very intuitive for its primary use (Download Management)
  • Easy to upgrade and update
  • Runs under an open source license (GNU GPU) so for all you programming enthusiasts, you can download the source code and manipulate it to your own whimsy
  • You can do a virus scan on downloads after downloading them or as you download them.
  • Has an extensive scheduler and history archive
  • Has a tip bar for help and support
  • Has a Lite version for people who don’t need as many features and run on less powerful systems

Cons

  • The full version is very heavy on memory and will slow down your start up times
  • Can seem very clunky in comparison to paid options
  • Does not always work as it should, sometimes downloads aren’t redirected
  • Browser integration could be better, a pop up would be a better prompt than a web page that tells you that Free Download Manager is handling your download every time
  • It does not have the best looking user interface and its auxiliary functions can be unintuitive.

Discussion 

Flash FDMIt has a light installer standing in at about 7,37 MB. It’s a standard installation with no registrations needed, all it asks is if you agree to the usage standard and agreements, if you’d like to allow it to run on Windows startup and its location on your PC. You can go through the entire installation in less than a minute.

If Free Download Manager is properly installed and integrated with your web browser, it will handle the majority of your file downloads. In usual a case, it will only handle the download from a link on a page i.e if there is a link to a file on a page and you click on it, your browser and Free Download Manager will usually redirect you to a page informing that the download was transferred to Free Download Manager and you have to click back to navigate back to the page you were browsing on. You can also download files from URLs using the user interface. It will run as a background app that launches itself on Windows start up.  It’s not just a simple download manager though, it will also optimize the speed of your downloads, you can use it to configure or connect to your dial up connection, watch and convert media, download flash videos, handle torrents, schedule future downloads, it has a site manager and explorer where you can copy a URL from a web page and it will display a list of downloadable files, pictures and folders. You can create a portable version that can be run from a flash and does not need to be installed. I’m not sure if it will run without your antivirus software complaining but the functions are great, varied and waiting to be explored. It has your standard local Windows help references and online help on their website if you should need any details of its running.

As previously discussed, it’s an open source software with an active community so if you have any major complaints about it, you can fix them yourself or send in your 2 cents via email or the hub located on the user interface. In the future, Software like this may become redundant as web browsers implement better download management. Apparently, the copyright has existed since 2003(that’s 10 years) and you can see by all the extra features it has, that it’s ready to evolve. It’s quite large, ambitious and inspiring for such a completely free piece of software. Even though the downloads on the website, cater to Windows, I would not be surprised to find a Linux version floating around somewhere. It should be easy to port on to a mobile platform if need be.

Besides a web page prompting you that Free Download Manager is now handling your download, the entire user interface pops up along with a dialog that allows you to alter the URL, where you want to place the download, check if it’s been marked as malicious by the Free Download Manager community, alter and add mirror URLs, choose whether to save the file temporarily and open it or save it permanently. You can choose to generate your own file name from this dialog or generate it automatically. You can also choose to start the download manually, automatically or schedule it after you have cued it. A comment can even be assigned to each download.

Dialog

From then on, you can manipulate your download from the base UI, where you can add more mirror URLs, check the status, check the amount of server connections it currently has, add more comments, cue more downloads etc.

You can also change the UI skin which I assume is a new feature because I could only find two skins (Default and Classic). You can change the language and there are over 30 languages to choose from.

You can choose to hang up from your dial up connection, exit the application and/or shutdown your computer when all downloads are complete.

Conclusion And Download Link

All in all, Free Download Manager is a great testament to community and home brewed freeware software. With a plethora of features backing it, I can see it surviving another decade. Ambitious and inspiring, the majority of its bugs come from it having to conform to the dynamic of ever-changing software and the multiple browsers it has to support; that, of course, doesn’t excuse the bugs but does leave the door open for continuous improvements. Free Download Manager may not be as good as its shareware competition who have better browser support, but a large community keep Free Download Manager relevant and striving. Though it lacks largely in aesthetics, it packs a punch in functionality. It definitely deserves a look at if you’re in the market for a download manager. Check it out.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 3.9.2

Supported OS: Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8

Download size: 7.37MB

VirusTotal scan results:

Is it portable? Yes

Free Download Manager homepage

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6 comments

  1. RealBull

    Nice review. I used it a lot before I just settled with using Opera’s(Presto) built in download manager. Free Download Manager is one of the best DLM around.

    “You can also change the UI skin which I assume is a new feature because I could only find two skins (Default and Classic). You can change the language and there are over 30 languages to choose from.”

    Actually the changeable UI feature has been around for a long time. You can make your own skins if you have the patience. I made two skins using Windows icons and FatFarm icons. It’s possible that the forum may have other toolbars to download.

    I’m waiting for William’s Best DLM review. I wonder if FDLM will be on top.

  2. etim

    [@jivadas] I think flashgot is only for FFox but you don’t it need for FDM to work.

    I’ve used FDM as my standard for years and am real happy with it. However, there’s one little irritation users should be aware of–
    At the beginning of a DL, FDM reserves space on your hard drive for the incoming files. If you have several broken or partially DL’ed files in the FDM’s recycle bin, it will hang on to that reserved space till you physically delete them.
    These will accumulate and can add up to several gigs if you don’t clean ‘em out now and then.

  3. mburke543

    Watch out for web sites that sound like Free Download Manager but aren’t this one.
    What I like most is the multiple stream downloads (when the source website is capable) (usually, in my case 12). Really speeds up the downloads.
    MJB

  4. jivadas

    [@bgm]
    I want to download youTube videos. I have done so in the past using IDM via Chrome, but have had problems lately with the Apps store.
    Will the FlshGot plugin work on Chrome, with FDM? Where do I find the plugin?

    xØx
    jd

  5. bgm

    Hi, Ashraf. I’ve been using FDM for several years now and am very pleased with it. I use it with Firefox and the FlashGot plugin, so it picks up all the downloads – even YouTube videos – and takes the stress off my browser. Once I even pasted a big long list of file urls into it and it proceeded to download everything. You mentioned the look of FDM – you can create your own skins for it, too. Their forum is pretty active as well.

    I give this program my 5 stars, and I stopped looking for alternatives a couple years ago.