Most people prefer to use their browser’s built-in download manager. Whether you’re using Firefox, Edge, Chrome, or something else, a basic tool to manage downloads is always included.
The built-in download manager works but it lacks features that full-blown download managers offer. Let’s say you download a large file; if the download completes without errors, great, but if you run into any errors (server-side issue, or your internet connection), your browser will simply stop the download with a failed tag next to the filename. There may be no way to resume the download and you’ve to start it from scratch.
This is where having a download manager can be of great help. It can attempt to resume the download, speed downloads up, and provide better manageability and organization options.
Tip: you may also want to use a download manager if you download from China.
Xtreme Download Manager is an open source download accelerator
Xtreme Download Manager is a download manager, and it is available for Windows, macOS and Linux and works with all major browsers.
The official page for the program says it can accelerate the download speed by up to 500%. I’m just going to say this here, the only way to increase your internet speed is by getting a better (more expensive) connection and use a wired connection instead of Wi-Fi. That being said, when I tried XDM, the speeds were indeed a bit faster than Firefox’s (or any other browser’s) download manager. For the price of free, it is quite impressive.
Let’s test that claim
For testing purposes I downloaded several files and videos in Firefox and XDM. My laptop’s wireless adapter is shoddy, so the downloads were averaging at about 3MB/sec and the peak speed was just over 4 MB/sec in the browser.
When I tried it on XDM the result was slightly better; the average speed was around 4MB/sec while the peak speed was around 5.5MB/sec. The difference in the speed was about 22% but mileage varies as multiple factors such as the server load and speed, and the speed of the Internet connection.
Wired LAN is usually faster, so here are the XDM test results from the wired connection. Peak Speed – About 36 MB/sec averaging in the 18-20 range. Internet Download Manager delivered slightly higher average speeds at 22MB/s, while Firefox disappointingly averaged at 12MB/s.
Forget the peak speeds, the average speed is what’s important. So, does using XDM make a difference? Yes, it is better than the speed that you get from your browser, and if you don’t have a download manager I’d definitely recommend XDM. Again, mileage varies and you don’t know how beneficial (or not) a download manager is until you gave it a try.
XDM Browser Monitor
When you install Xtreme Download Manager and run it, you will see some options to install the browser add-on which is called XDM Browser Monitor. The extension is available on Mozilla’s repository and the Chrome Web Store which means you can install it on any Firefox based or Chromium based browser. XDM uses the Browser Monitor to capture the URLs to download the file.
The GUI of Xtreme Download Manager has a dark theme with flat icons similar to Metro UI. The interface comprises a menu bar, a tab bar, a search box, a side bar and a toolbar.
Download options in XDM
The easiest way to download files using Xtreme Download Manager is obviously to use the web browser and selecting the download option. But, the File menu has a few other options. You can manually add a URL to download a file or add one from the clipboard. There is even a batch download option which you can use for downloading multiple files at once.
The Downloads menu in XDM can be used to pause, resume or restart a download. It also has a task scheduler, which allows you to set the URLs in a queue and start/stop it at a time and date of your choice.
Tip: The Queue menu is rather long and the toolbar on the bottom overlaps the menu. Either use XDM in maximized mode or use the vertical scroll-bar to navigate to the settings in the menu.
You can configure the Xtreme Download Manager settings from the Tools menu. This includes selecting the download folder, maximum number of simultaneous downloads, overwrite existing files option and a few other Network, Scheduler, Password Manager options. You can also set XDM to make your antivirus scan each downloaded file and define exceptions from the Advanced Settings.
XDM places the downloaded files in different folders (Documents, Compressed, Music, Video and Programs) based on the file’s extension. For e.g TXT or DOCX are saved to documents, MP3 or FLAC to the music folder, and so on. This is exactly how IDM handles downloads too. You can change the folders for each category from the Tools> Options menu.
Xtreme Download Manager can refresh the link for a download, just like IDM. This is useful for resuming time-limited downloads and otherwise downloads that don’t support resume. You can set a speed limit for the downloads if you don’t want the program to use all your bandwidth.
The toolbar on the bottom can be used to
- Start a new download
- Delete downloaded files
- Pause/Resume downloads
- Access the settings
- Run the built-in video downloader and video converter
Downloading a video using XDM is simple. Go to the web page which contains the video and you will see an option to download the video provided that you have installed the extension. Click it and pick a resolution from the list and XDM does the rest. You can also manually start the built-in video downloader in XDM and paste a video’s URL.
If you have an account/subscription with the service you are downloading the video from, you can enter your credentials in the program. This step is only necessary in case the streaming service prevents unregistered users from accessing the videos.
The video converter didn’t work for me when I clicked it. Perhaps it is designed to only work when downloading videos through the program. Go to a video’s page and click download, a pop-up should appear prompting you to select where to save the file. It also has an option to “Convert” the video. The formats which XDM can covert to are: 3GP, 3G2, MP4, MP4 HQ and MP3. When I tested this, the resultant videos were fine.
I was slightly surprised that Xtreme Download Manager does everything that IDM can do. Sure there are a few bugs here and there, but for the price of free, I have no complaints. A portable version of XDM is available on SourceForge.
As a long time user of Internet Download Manager (I paid for two licenses about 5 years ago), I have no regrets about my decision. It still is the best, in my opinion. I might still keep XDM on the laptop.
Now You: Which download manager do you use?
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