By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 1997, The Syracuse Newspapers
Downloads are mysteries. Knowing how to get them, where to put them and what to do with them can be too much for many users to bear. Life is hard enough, right?
If you agree, log onto http://www.download.com/ and look for the free Download Manager offered by the Download.com Web site. It's easy to find (look right on the main page) and the instructions that are shown to you before you get the file are very clear.
The program automates downloads to an amazing degree—but only if you choose the files you want to download from the ones indexed at the Download.com Web site. That's not much of a drawback, because the site has one of the world's largest collections of Windows software. You'll also find a lot of Mac software, too.
The Download Manager works only under Windows 95 and requires either Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer because it works hand in hand with your Web browser. CNet, the huge Internet news-and-file service that runs Download.com, has not said whether a Macintosh version is in the works.
The Download Manager works through a normal Internet dialup connection or through a proxy. It will not work if you access the Internet through the limited connection provided by America Online.
Installation is painless. The Download Manager shows up as an icon in the Tray (the right part of the Taskbar) and stays out of the way unless you click on the icon. The Options menu lets you choose a common folder for all downloaded files—please take my advice and create a folder called DOWNLOAD—and it even offers to extract all downloaded ZIP files for you.
It works this way: When you find a file you want to download, you'll see a choice on the Download.com site—download now or download later—and, if you choose the second option, the Download Manager takes over. It pops open a window to let you choose the time for the download, with the current time listed as the default. Choosing the default starts the download in the background. (You can do anything else at the same time, including other downloads.)
The Download Manager can be configured to do all downloads in the middle of the night, while you are sleeping. It will dial your Internet provider automatically and log off when it is through. (You can turn off this option if you want.)
This option probably is the best choice because of an annoying trait. The Download Manager sticks a dialog box on top of all other windows each time it starts a download, interfering with anything else you are doing. (It kept doing this while I was writing this review. Each time the dialog popped up, the keystrokes that were supposed to go to Microsoft Word went into a black hole.)
The Download Manager comes with an effective uninstallation program. If you merely want to keep Download Manager from running each time you start Windows, edit the Start Menu (right click on the Start button and choose Open) by opening the StartUp folder—it's inside the Programs folder—and take out the Download Manager icon. Put it somewhere else in the Start Menu so you can still run it easily.