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IP.Downloads 2.5 Dev Update: More Download Controls

One of the most critical areas of a download manager application is, naturally, the download process. There are many things to factor in - you want to ensure the security of your files, you want to ensure the integrity of the system, and you want to ensure a nice user experience. IP.Downloads supports many features to help you control who can download what and when throughout the software. You can enable anti-leeching settings; you can configure per-group limits on number of files or transfer consumption at the day, week and month levels; you can require that your users post in the forums in between downloading files. There are many options to ensure that you can configure your site in a manner that you feel works best.

IP.Downloads 2.5 is introducing two new features to allow you to better control the experience and provide more value to subscribers or registered users on your site.

Controlling the transfer rate

The transfer rate is the speed at which files being downloaded are delivered to the user. Currently, IP.Downloads will simply send the file to the user as fast as your server (and their connection) will allow. For most applications this is fine, however what if you want to allow guests to download, but give them an incentive to register too? Or what if you want to offer faster downloads to your premium member groups, while still allowing your regular member groups to download files, albeit at a slower rate? IP.Downloads already supports enforcing a limited number of simultaneous downloads, so the next logical step was to allow you to configure how fast the download can be delivered.

Beginning with IP.Downloads 2.5, there is now a per-group option labeled "Speed Throttling (in kB)". It is important to note now that no matter what you set this value to, a download can never be delivered faster than (1) your server can send it, and (2) you can receive it (typically based on your internet connection speed). Having said that, you can now set individual groups to use a throttled download speed, limiting how fast the file will be delivered to the user. As an example, I uploaded IP.Board (which is approximately 8MB in size) to my localhost server. Without download throttling enabled for my group, it was downloaded nearly instantly. After all, I was downloading the file from my computer to my computer, so there was no network latency or connection speeds to worry about. With the speed throttling setting configured to 1 kB/sec, when I started the download, Firefox estimated it would take an hour and 56 minutes to download the file. This is an extreme example used purely to demonstrate how the feature works. In the real world, you might allow your premium groups to have no limit, while your regular member groups or guests might be able to download at 4kB/sec, giving them an incentive to register, or upgrade to a premium membership.

Live countdown before the download will begin

We've most likely all been to websites where you click to start a download and suddenly a counter shows up on the screen, requiring you to wait 30 (or sometimes 60) seconds before the download will actually begin. Many sites dedicated to file-sharing specifically utilize such a setup, providing an incentive to purchase one of their unlimited monthly subscriptions to bypass this countdown.

IP.Downloads 2.5 now has this functionality built in on a per-group basis. You can configure individual user groups to require a short wait period before the download will begin, and this will be honored both on the front end (visibly to the user) and on the backend (so the user cannot circumvent this wait period). When the user clicks to download a file, the countdown will begin, and the remaining wait time will be displayed on the screen.

Here is a short video showing this in action.


In this video, you see me initiating a download and being forced to wait 10 seconds before the download begins.

And still more to come...

These feature additions were some of the most oft-requested feature suggestions, and they fit perfectly with our IP.Downloads application, allowing you to provide measurable incentives to your users to register or subscribe to a premium service on your site. We have a lot more in store for IP.Downloads 2.5 still, however, so please subscribe to the IPS Company Blog if you wish to hear about further changes you can expect to see in the next major release!

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