Retriever, or more properly the Retriever Download Manager, is HalogenWare's free Java-based application for managing large FTP and HTTP downloads and BitTorrent file transfers. Retriever handles segmented downloads, proxies, Metalinks, server authentication, download mirrors, and more. It can schedule, pause, and resume downloads, and even switch servers automatically when traffic is heavy. Since Retriever is Java-based, it's made up of modular components that offer lots of customization options. Retriever works in Windows or any operating system with Java Runtime Environment 1.5 or higher; we tested it in Vista and Windows 7.
When we installed Retriever in Windows 7, a pop-up looked for javaw.exe, which Retriever evidently uses instead of java.exe. This may be a quirk of the individual installation, but no matter; we simply browsed to the javaw.exe file and Retriever opened normally. The program's small but efficient interface is notable for its taskbar menus, which sport descriptive names like Look & Feel, Icons, Plugins, and Configuration. The icon-based toolbar let us configure torrents, passwords, and helper applications with a few clicks. We clicked the New download icon, which opened a small dialog with everything we needed to configure a download: Source (with browsing), Referrer, Mirror, Directory, and more. We tried a variety of downloads, and in each case Retriever behaved just like any good download manager, displaying our downloads in a split view with a drop-down menu that let us filter for New, Incomplete, Scheduled, and other download options. We opened the tabbed Configuration properties, which included settings for proxy servers, BitTorrent performance, Metalink location by country, and options for performance, file size, and other general housekeeping matters. Always welcome is a good Help file like Retriever's; likewise its interface skins; its Gallant, Tango, and Swing icon sets; and other customizable features. Retriever downloads with two optional plug-ins, IECapture and OperaCapture. The program's Web site also has instructions for associating Retriever with FlashGot for Firefox users.
Since it's entirely Java-based, Retriever has a lot of potential for tinkerers. Even beginners will find it easy to use, though. We've tried a lot of download managers, but few we like as much as Retriever.