Very easy choice this week. I download a lot of stuff, and I don’t mean obscure Azerbaijani folk music, unless it is Eurovision season. To do my work, I need all sorts of files, sometimes entire cohorts of them. I also need videos, and occasionally need to review audio, sometimes from websites that are less than forthcoming with their multimedia goodness. Trawling the internet and choosing the “Save as” function in my browser for each little thing would be an intolerable chore, and could take forever. Quite frankly, even during cocktail hour I have better things to do. So it helps to have a tool that can take the pain out of downloading, allowing me to get on with other things without having to worry about how far the progress bar has gone so far.
Orbit Downloader is a fantastic little program that is just the ticket for anyone who does a lot of downloading. Not only is it simple and easy to use, but it’s quick too, with support for pausing and resuming downloads for those awkward moments where you need to disconnect or devote your bandwidth to something else. It supports Rapidshare dowloads, batch file retrieval, and can also grab videos and audio from sites like YouTube and MySpace, something that came in very useful when I was looking for old silent movie footage and instrumental music for a video montage a while back.
The Orbit Downloader interface is nothing to write home about; in fact, I’d probably describe it as a bit “meh,” but it does have the advantage of being configurable for both newbies and hardcore downloaders alike, along with its integration options for Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer; it can also be. Used in conjunction with the included Grab++ module, the program can detect and download Flash videos from almost any website, needing you merely to hover your cursor over the video in question to get the option to download. If you know you’re going to be away from your computer, you can actually schedule dowloads for a specific time, which is especially useful for those on slow connections who might prefer to pound their bandwidth at a time when they are not busy.
The two major niggles I have with Orbit are that it is Windows-only, and that it doesn’t support torrents. Having said that, those are a small price to pay for a program that works so well on such a small footprint. You will need less than 10MB of hard drive space to install and run Orbit Downloader, and less than one cup of coffee to install it and figure out how to use it. There are similar programs out there, but I have found them both bulky and slower. Orbit Downloader is file-gathering magic in a neat little package, and since its first install has become one of my must-have programs.