Headlight Software – Lightning Download review

clever way to speed up Internet downloads
Photo of Headlight Software – Lightning Download
£13.50 approx. (no VAT)

Companies are increasingly selling software products over the Internet – it costs them much less in packaging and distribution costs and is usually cheaper for us, too. Even small applications can still take a long time to download, though, and if the connection gets broken, particularly on a dial-up link, Windows can’t usually re-establish it and continue downloading from where it was stopped. Lightning Download attempts to rectify both these shortcomings.

Available as a download itself for under £15 (a one-month, free, shareware trial can be downloaded too, from the same site), Lightning Download is designed to be easy to use and a valuable time-saver. Once installed it sits waiting for you to instigate a download from Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator (there are plug-ins for Opera and Mozilla too). At this point it interjects and asks you to specify a destination file name.

The program then sets up between one and six connections to the site you’re downloading from and any mirrors it may have. It starts downloading a segment of your target program from each of these, with a graphical representation of its progress at the bottom of its window.

While the program claims to be a download accelerator, it doesn’t do this in the conventional way, as the overall transfer rate is governed by the speed of your Internet connection. What it does do is to balance out slower connections downloading some parts of your target file with faster ones working on other parts. Overall, you can expect an average decrease in download time of around 10 percent.

A bigger bonus is what happens if there’s a line fault three-quarters of the way through a 20MB download. Lightning Download can reconnect, automatically if that’s what you’ve set up, and continue downloading where it left off, so you don’t lose out on perhaps hours of download time.

You can set up a list of files to download and schedule when to download them, for convenience and perhaps to keep your Internet charges down. All this is built in to a simple, clear interface, which still has enough flexibility behind the scenes to satisfy those who like to customise their software.

Company: Headlight Software


Verdict
Lightning Download is an easy-to-use download tool which makes downloading, particularly over a dial-up connection, much less of a hit-or-miss affair. It's a valuable utility for anybody regularly trying and buying on the Internet.