A few months ago, I briefly tried SpeedDownload but I didn’t evaluate it in-depth. I realized recently that the time had come to spend more time with it and write a review. SpeedDownload2 is a download manager for Mac OS X. In an older review at SpyMac, they called YazSoft’s SpeedDownload2 a “wonder of development.” Were they right?When first launching the application it asks you if you want to install some plug-ins in order to “catch” clicks from browsers for download for the supported download formats. Prom that point on, every time you click a supported-by-SD2 file with your browser (I tried it with Safari), it will automatically load and start to download the file instead of the browser’s default download manager.
It is very important to use applications like SD2, iGetter, GodZilla, GetRight or wget with large downloads (in my case OSes, Linux distros or SDKs) because they support resuming and every time they need to resume they check if the paused file is “healthy” and they restart downloading from a “healthy” point. This functionality from download managers has saved me lots of headaches over the years.
SD2’s window consists of a list of download sources and a view of the downloadable files. “My Downloads” lists any current downloads that are going on, or files that are in the queue for future downloading. You can pause, resume, cancel, queue a download, while you also have the option to add mirrors to download the specific files in case the main server you are downloading is down.
The “My Servers” option can connect via Rendezvous or via samba or NFS to network servers to grab files. You can also share specific folders and files with other SD2 users!
The “Filters” option can move files to different folders after downloading depending on their file extension. It’s a great feature, but I think that maybe more kinds of filters should be added to this option.
There is a History option where you can see what you downloaded and when. I would be better, though, if SD2 was a bit more multi-user aware, allowing the administrator to check what other users have downloaded.
There is also a “MacShareware” option for the www.macshareware.net site, allowing users to click on a list of software and download it directly without the need to use a web browser. You can also drag and drop downloads to the “My Watch List” tab and so when there is a new version of the software you downloaded, the application will automatically let you know (and it will also be listed in the little “eye” icon in the OSX menubar/notification area where SD2 places an add-on).
Users can also create their own folders on the list on the left, for example “wallpaper downloads”. It would be more useful, though, if the Filters could place special rules for each user folder. For example, if I want all my “wallpaper downloads” files to be saved on another folder, the Filters should have let me do that.
SD2 also allows you to check out your network traffic (bandwidth monitoring). It is mostly a gimmick I believe, but a nice one, and makes SD2 feel even more complete.
Another nice feature is the “Schedule” option for the Queues. You can specify start and stop download times and what to do after the end of a downloaded queue (e.g. put computer to sleep, quit SD2, log out, shutdown computer, hang up modem etc).
The preference panel has a lot of options: proxy configuration, sharing (and I think I found a bug on this one, even after I “unshare” my folder from the context menu, the preference panel still list it as shared), password handling for servers that require it, support for sensitive servers (e.g. like Slackware’s FTP server that doesn’t support more than 3 simultaneous downloads per IP), dock integration and many more other options.
iGetter is the main competitor to SD2 on the Macs, but comparing the two apps side by side, iGetter is a very bare-bones app and it looks very unpolished UI-wise on my Panther, plus it’s more expensive.
In conclusion, I believe SD2 is one of the best utilities for any platform. It is an essential application. I usually just use GetRight or wget on my PC, and while they do the job for the basic download functions that I need, SD2 just brings a whole new level and functionality to “file downloading”. It is a highly recommended application, and the price ($20) is reasonable for what the app offers, and includes free upgrades.