By Bruce Stewart
Download Accelerator Plus speeds up your downloads by simultaneously retrieving multiple segments of a file from either the same or different servers (download Download Accelerator Plus 5.0 here). In other words, it makes the most of your bandwidth. And like most download managers, Download Accelerator Plus also can pause and resume downloads, recover from dropped Internet connections, and schedule future downloads. But unlike some of its competitors, Download Accelerator does so without flooding your desktop with pop-up advertising. By Bruce Stewart
Download Accelerator Plus speeds up your downloads by simultaneously retrieving multiple segments of a file from either the same or different servers (download Download Accelerator Plus 5.0 here). In other words, it makes the most of your bandwidth. And like most download managers, Download Accelerator Plus also can pause and resume downloads, recover from dropped Internet connections, and schedule future downloads. But unlike some of its competitors, Download Accelerator does so without flooding your desktop with pop-up advertising.
Download Accelerator Plus is simple to install--just download its executable installer file, double-click it, and follow the standard dialog boxes. But read the fine print carefully. Although Ad-aware does not recognize Download Accelerator Plus itself to be ad-serving software, you must agree to let a software program called SpeedBit monitor your surfing and gather personal information as part of the installation.
Integrates with Windows Explorer
Download Accelerator Plus speeds downloads by searching for mirror sites, additional download sites offering the same file, and retrieving files from the most responsive locations. It integrates with most of the leading browsers, including Internet Explorer, Netscape, and Opera, although its nifty browser interface, which runs entirely in your browser toolbar, works only in IE. Whenever you click a download link from your browser, Download Accelerator Plus jumps in and manages the process. It even can automatically disconnect your modem and shut down your computer after a download.
Unfortunately, Download Accelerator Plus's file-organization options are meager compared to those of other download managers, such as GetRight 4.5d, and Download Accelerator offers users less overall customization.
Extras will cost you
Unlike other download managers, Download Accelerator Plus charges extra for some basic features. The main program window allows you to monitor the status of your downloads and access other features, including scheduling and searching. Sadly, the program interface itself displays ads in the shareware version--you'll have to register Download Accelerator Plus for $29.95 to disable the ads or run the program as a minimized icon from the system tray.
Download Accelerator Plus offers a special fee-based service called AlwaysResume--odd, because most other download managers offer this service for free. Download Accelerator Plus warns that not all file servers have the ability to restart a download where it left off, and AlwaysResume guarantees that a file will restart whether or not the server supports that feature. Nonetheless, we never experienced a dropped connection that Download Accelerator Plus couldn't recover from, even without AlwaysResume.
Performance improvement with large files
We tested Download Accelerator Plus using a 900MHz Pentium III system with 256MB of RAM, running Windows XP, and the results were promising. Files of 1MB or 2MB that were downloaded over a 56K dial-up modem yielded no speed improvements over Internet Explorer, but we did see improvement when downloading much larger files. Although Download Accelerator's claim of increasing downloads up to 300 percent is inflated, we did notice improvements of up to several minutes when downloading large popular files, compared to Internet Explorer alone. Download Accelerator Plus even successfully completed a 100MB download overnight--something IE was not able to do without dropping the connection.
E-mail help and Web support
Technical support is available via e-mail (Download Accelerator gives priority to registered users) and via a Web-based help system. Unfortunately, these help pages aren't easy to find from the Download Accelerator Plus site; the best way to get to them is by selecting Help from the program's Help menu.
Download Accelerator Plus won't make a huge difference in download speeds unless you download very large files over high-speed connections, but its scheduling and recovery features can save you time and frustration. Just don't download the ad-serving component and skip the costly AlwaysResume feature.