The best free download managers make it simple and easy to organize not just your downloads but also improve your download speeds.
They can be especially useful when you routinely need to download multiple files, especially large files, such as media files, databases, or backups. The ability to organize, prioritize, and streamline your downloads process can be invaluable, especially to avoid time-out errors.
Other features you’ll find on many of these download managers include scheduling, batch downloading, file previewing, BitTorrent support, support for compressed file types, and a number of security features. No matter if you want something that can work as an extension of your browser or as a standalone app, there are plenty of options available to you.
And, to help you decide which one works best for you, we’ve gathered our picks for the top download manager here. We've compared these download managers across numerous aspects, from their download speeds and ease of installation to their interface and learning curve. We also checked if they had solid file conversion tools and privacy features, among other things.
Here then are the best free download managers currently available.
Also, we've featured the best file managers.
The best free download managers of 2023 in full:
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The free version of Download Accelerator Plus is a pared-back version of the premium edition, but it's much more than just a demo and contains all the essential features you need for quick, reliable downloads.
The free version lacks the DAP Premium's privacy protection, but it does include a link checker, video previewing, file conversion, safe downloading, and multiple connections to boost the speed of your downloads.
The Download Accelerator Plus is clearly designed for media fans, and it can help you avoid irritations such as slow servers and internet congestion.
Although users can't select what format to download videos in, the DAP software packs a convenient file format converter that converts to popular formats (AVI, MOV, MP4, MP3, and more). All the downloads are kept in a library, and the file conversions are done within the program.
Ninja Download Manager is a relative newcomer to the downloading party, and it looks considerably more contemporary than its, er, contemporaries.
Its interface is simple and modern (if a little dark), and its accelerator can help you get your files 10 times faster. It does this by splitting each file into chunks, then downloading each one using a different server connection, making downloads not only faster, but also more reliable. If you're into music and movies you'll be delighted by its sequential setting, which lets you begin playing a file while it's still downloading.
There's also a built-in video downloader with support for YouTube and Vimeo, and a video converter that changes the file format automatically once it's finished downloading.
There are lots of fantastic options around, but if you love music, films and TV then Ninja Download Manager is the tool for you.
Note that the link to download the free version of Ninja Download Manager is at the very bottom of the developer's homepage.
Read our full Ninja Download Manager review.
Free Download Manager aims to be all things to all people – and succeeds. It is a download accelerator, a BitTorrent client, an audio and video previewer and a traffic management tool, and because it is open source, it is completely free and receives regular updates from its community of developers.
It includes powerful scheduling features and a very handy remote control that means you can leave your downloads running and check on their progress from any internet-connected device.
It can spider sites to download specific kinds of files, and you can choose to download only the bits of a ZIP file you actually want. It is an exceptional program, and it was tough to choose between this and Ninja Internet Download Manager for the top spot.
Read our full Free Download Manager review.
JDownloader is a free, open source download manager with a massive developer community, and it's available for Windows, Linux and Mac.
It's really one for power users, with support for over 300 decryption plugins, automatic RAR extraction, password list searching and OCR to complete some of the captcha 'I'm not a robot' checks you encounter on download sites.
You'll need the Java Runtime Environment to run it, and you'll have to be careful when installing it: the installer contains adware, which will be bundled in with the download manager if you don't specifically deselect it.
Downloading the jDownloaded tool can feel tedious because it's in RAR format, and you'll need to figure out how to decompress the RAR file if you don't have a decompressing tool.
Also beware fake 'download' buttons on the site; the actual download link is a line of text.
Read our full JDownloader review.
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How to choose the best free download managers for you?
When choosing the best free download manager for you, you'll want to start with considering how simple the download process is. Does it happen swiftly in a few steps, or is it an elaborate process that demands file decompressing and extraction?
Next, you'll want to evaluate how reliable and swift the downloads are, whether the download manager has file conversion tools, and how many formats it can convert files to.
Media previews and download scheduling are convenient features, but not all download managers offer this. Look out for privacy protection features and check whether the software comes with pesky adware.
How we tested the best free download managers
We tested various free download managers to determine their performance. We looked at the ease of finding and download the manager, the download speeds, interface, learning curve, and privacy features.
We checked what formats users could download files in, and whether the download managers offered reliable file conversion tools that supported various formats.
We also considered additional features on the software, like download scheduling, batch downloading, and media previews, along with checking if they came bundled with adware or other software.
Read more on how we test, rate, and review products on TechRadar (opens in new tab).