How to manage large downloads from server side?

A client wants to distribute technical programs from their website. The files can be upwards of 450MB plus. Disk space and bandwidth aren’t a problem.

They want to be able to offer some sort of download client (like Adobe uses when you download their trial programs). Can someone point me in the right direction? My preliminary Google searches only turned up generic client-side program such as GoZilla, etc.

It’s called a “download manager”.

Here’s a list of ones available:

Most major browsers (aside from IE) have built-in pause and resume functions for downloads, essentially making download managers unnecessary.

Yeah, sorry. I guess I should have been more specific. I know what a download manager is. What I need is a hosted download manager, one that is tied to a specific site and manages only those downloads. Preferably one that loads as a browser plug-in or is relatively painless to install.

For example, Adobe’s download manager only works for downloading from Ditto for Sun’s download manager. My client needs a similar tool - something that is only for downloading products from their site.

Honestly, while adobe’s download manager is interesting from a developer standpoint, I find it very annoying from a user’s standpoint.

But, I did some searching, and I stumbled across this code for an AIR app:

However, again, I wouldn’t recommend this route because you’ll need to have users download AIR in addition to your download manager app.

Is there a specific reason why you want this implemented?

I’d say try to avoid anything that requires browser plugin, it’s just an unnecessary barrier.

Can I ask why your client things they need one? What benefits would their be for them and their customers?

The downloads are going to be big. These are engineering tools upwards of 450MB. I’ve already spoken to them about other options (torrent files, repackaging as a web installer, splitting them up or pairing them down, compression, etc.) but this, download manager, is the route they want to go in. To be honest, I loathe download managers and bypass them altogether whenever possible. However, the upside to a download manager is that the clients end users can pause and resume the download as necessary, and since they have users downloading from around the world and only one server farm in the US I can see it being useful to have the option as an end user. (I’ve also suggested having them host the files in Amazon or Google’s cloud space, but they don’t want to do that either.)

Which brings us back to a download manager. Of course, if anyone has a solution that I haven’t thought of already I’d love to hear it.

As I mentioned earlier, most browsers these days have that built-in. I wouldn’t consider that a good enough reason to implement a custom download manager.

Let the user determine what’s best for what they’re using, and not force them to use something they might (and probably) won’t want.

If you’re adamant about a download manager, maybe just include some links to free ones as a suggestion.

Adobe’s download manager is not something that “plug’s into the browser and processes at the server-side”, it’s an external program that uses ActiveX to launch from within the browser. Server-side products are just that, they can only manage the server it’s housed on, they cannot initiate or process something to download from the client side. If you want something that allows download management your only option is to use the very insecure ActiveX mechanism (for IE) and product a Firefox plug-in to give the same level of functionality to users of that. Though I will warn you that such functionality will not work for other browsers. As such I recommend neither as appropriate solutions, you would need to create a software executable that manages the download (based on what your file processing requirements are).

As for their chosen solution, I agree entirely that it’s a very bad idea to implement a download manager, not only will it pollute the end users system with unnecessary add-ons, it’s something else their forced to install (what uses extra resources) and in today’s high speed world, resuming downloads isn’t as much of an issue. If the files were upward of 1GB, perhaps it might make sense (especially if regular updates of that scale were in order) but in the case of a download no bigger than most on-demand videos you can watch on Hulu or iPlayer it’s silly to put your visitors “out” on the basis of what you think is best for them. In this case it’s pretty clear that your clients idea of what makes sense is entirely unjustified and clearly the result of counter-productive (old-fashioned) thinking. :slight_smile: