Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
Download managers exist for two reasons. Firstly, they help organise your downloads, moving them to a single, central location on your desktop. Secondly, they help to improve download performance. But with so many around, which to choose? Let us help you...
Organisation is very important if you need to download many files from different locations. The kind of downloads we're talking about are those you normally come across using a web browser. BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer transfer protocols normally include their own download manager clients anyway.
Both Gnome and KDE will open a separate window for each file you copy from a remote system, for instance. Firefox features its own download window, but you only have control over cancelling and clearing the download queue. The download managers we'll look at will pool downloads into a single window, enable you to pause, resume and reorder the download queue, as well as enable certain advanced features such as parallel and segmented downloads.