Anybody who downloads software knows that the size of the file is going to effect the time it takes to download. The bigger the file the longer you wait, right? For those of you who are on a dial-up connection (I know you're still out there), the size of the file can be the difference between downloading and moving on to something else. Even with a fast connection, some of the popular game demos and larger software apps can mean an all-night download party for your computer--particularly when that download is in high demand.
As much as I would like to tell you there is a top secret way to get downloads immediately, it is simply not the case. However, there are a few programs which can significantly speed up download times by splitting up files (like torrents) or downloading files from multiple sites. These programs come with added tools to resume broken downloads, queue downloads for later, and let you schedule your downloading for times when you're not on your computer.
Even if you have cable, DSL, or a faster connection, you'll still notice a dramatic improvement in download speeds. Dial-up users will notice a difference too, and though it's been a while since I heard the tell-tale sound of my modem dialing an ISP, I remember that a little extra download speed goes a long way.
Free Download Manager splits files into parts and downloads them simultaneously, and you certainly can't beat the price. It integrates with just about every popular Web browser so your files get downloaded by Free Download Manager automatically. Like most programs in this list, when FDM gets cut off (power outage, system crash, etc.), you'll be able to pick up the download where you left off with its autoresume feature--great for those huge game downloads. As an added perk, this app also supports BitTorrent downloads.
Internet Download Manager also features multiserver connections to provide the best possible performance and quickest downloads. Just like Free Download Manager, this app offers autoresume and download scheduling, but also supports Flash Video (FLV), so you can grab videos from YouTube, Google Video, and MySpaceTV. This one also has the option to download multiple videos or pictures from the same site with a filtering system, so you get exactly what you want.
IGetter Download Manager for Mac users offers the same type of multiserver downloading as its Windows counterparts. You also get the ability to resume broken downloads and IGetter will shut off your Mac when your late-night downloading session is done.
While there is no magic method to get that valuable software to your hard drive, there are at least some options that can ease the pain for those big downloads. If you have a download manager that does all this and more, tell me about it in the comments!