The Best-Of Series: Download Managers

November 6th, 2009
Best of WordPress

We continue our Best-Of Series today with download managers. Or, plugins for WordPress that will allow you to provide various files to your website visitors for download. Over the years I’ve gone through many. Everyone will have a different preference but, here is a list of my top plugins for managing downloads with WordPress…

  1. Drain Hole
    I’ve been using Drain Hole on my personal site to serve up my files for a couple years now. So far it is the best download manager plugin I’ve been able to find. It does everything it advertises and does it well. I’ve not yet had any issues with this plugin. I highly recommend it!
  2. WP-DownloadManager
    Before I found Drain Hole I used WP-DownloadManager exclusively. It did what I wanted and didn’t seem to have many problems. It has the features most would expect in such a plugin. It also has some you might not. Such things as custom templates, categories, RSS feeds, and more.
  3. WP-Filebase
    I actually just recently learned of WP-Filebase. I can’t speak from personal experience but from the research I’ve done on it I think it would be one of the best options. It has the obvious features you expect from a download manager. Some of the highlights are quick tags, top downloads widget, extensive file details, and even download pausing.
  4. WordPress Download Monitor
    I really like the interface of WordPress Download Monitor. It’s simple yet complete. It does its job as a download manager and keeps it simple at the same time. Some of the attraction points of this plugin are: simple custom download URLs, custom error pages, download mirrors, and even custom fields for all files.
  5. Simple Download Monitor
    What’s great about Simple Download Monitor is right in its name. It’s simple! To quote the author of the plugin “…I wanted to monitor the number of downloads of my files without having to maintain any kind of database or making any special download links. I just wanted to upload a file to a designated directory using FTP, provide a direct link to it and once in a while check the number of downloads“. This plugin also allows advanced logging.

What I think is especially nice is that all these plugins seem to be compatible with the upcoming WordPress 2.9. That means that they are future-proof for at least the foreseeable future. I took time to test each one of these plugins during the writing of this post. But, feel free to let me know if you have experienced anything to the contrary with any of them.

Well, that’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed the post and I hope you might be able to get something useful out of this list.

Do you have a good idea for the next article in the Best-Of series? Drop a comment here or contact us and your idea just might be next in the series!




  1. Jeremy (1 comments.) says:

    Do you know if any/all of these will work with PodPress or the Podcasting plugin? I tried one a while back (I don’t remember which), and by using the trackable url for the media file, it broke the PodPress function, so I was unable to use it.


    • James Dimick (23 comments.) says:

      I can’t say from personal experience but you could always give these download managers a try. May have changed since since you last tried.

  2. Rajesh Kanuri (3 comments.) says:

    nice collection..

  3. Lester Chan (32 comments.) says:

    Thanks for featuring my WP-DownloadManager, I will be testing against WP2.9 when the beta is out =)

  4. Kenji (7 comments.) says:

    Where can we see Drain Hole in action?

    • James Dimick (23 comments.) says:

      Well, I’m not aware of any official places to demo the plugin but, you can get an idea of how the front-end looks if you look at my use of it here and here. As I mentioned in the post, I currently use Drain Hole on my site. Not sure if that helps but I’m not aware of any way to demo the plugin without installing it.

  5. Flick (28 comments.) says:

    I’ve used WordPress Download Monitor for 2-3 sites and can really recommend it. It was a big surprise when I found out that the newest version supports members-only downloads. Previous I’d have had to hide the URL so a big bonus imho.

  6. bubazoo (213 comments.) says:

    how about, for the next “best of” series, you could do one on RSS feeds.
    I’m talking about fetch and show RSS feeds in blog posts or pages.

    The only one I know of is Khanh’s Quick Feeds, but its got its share of problems, so it would be nice to see a good list.

  7. David (1 comments.) says:

    We spent $210 for the developer version of this plugin. From the start we had issues with getting it to work correctly. Namely it was not properly saving settings in the admin, it was sporadic when rendering packages on the front end, and we were repeatedly getting a “link expired” error after using a download link despite not setting it to do so. We attempted several “fixes” provided by the author’s support team, including the immediate updating of the plugin during all this due to a bug we discovered.
    After 3-days of trying to get the plugin to work we decided to go with another solution, and requested a refund. After a considerable amount of back and forth emails from the company that developed this plugin, we were told the only way they would issue a refund is if we provided them access to our admin control panel to see if they could determine what the issues were. This was completely unreasonable to us as it is a well know fact you NEVER give your WordPress login details to a third party.
    I would highly recommend only using the free version of this plugin, and do NOT pay for the Dev or Premium versions of this plugin. If you have compatibiality issues, and do not wish to allow them access to your admin, they will REFUSE to give you a deserved refund.

    • Wolf (1 comments.) says:

      Hi David,

      I think you are talking about wordpress download manager.

      In that case I totally agree with you. I haven’t purchased the “PRO” version: the free one was enought to make me dumb!

      Do you want to know what I think about? It is the bigger fake I’ve ever seen! Over 250k downloads of free version and thousands installations of “PRO” version do not get along with bugs that should have been fixed since the first update!

      I worked on the source code of free version fixing some ridiculous bugs but after 24 hours I said stop! It is like opening a huge can of Worms!

      You can search on the Internet what people say about their customer service.

      There is an honest review (written in italian) about WordPress Download Manager Plugin here:

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