I never really fancied download accelerators but Axel is different - it's a command line application and is naturally significantly more lightweight then those graphical download managers I've stopped using since 1996 (teh intraweb was slower then, and I was sucking bits of it through a state of the art 33.6kbps dial-up modem).

I've been using wget for its auto-resume support, but have switched to using Axel since one of my colleagues at Bezurk introduced me to it. If you're a wget or curl fan, Axel is almost a drop-in replacement (although it doesn't handle multiple redirects or broken connections too well).

Install it:

# On a Mac, with Darwin Ports.
sudo port install axel

# On Ubuntu.
sudo apt-get install axel

Windows users would require cygwin to get Axel to work for them (what, a Windows user and you don't have cygwin installed already?).

Now go download some files. If you need a good place just to test the speeds, go to YUI Theater and download some videos (watch them too, most of them are pretty good, like Douglas Crockford's and the Firebug videos). Run it on the command line by typing:

axel -n 10 http://example.com/some_file.mov

The -n 10 option tells Axel to use a maximum of 10 simultaneous connections when downloading the file. Another useful option is -a, which outputs a wget-like report of download progress in a few lines rather than filling up your screen with download progress messages.

Check out the speeds I managed to get:

Check out the 1MB+/s download speed with Axel

250MB in 3 minutes, with an average download speed of 1339KB/s. That's pretty damn fast. Comparatively, I could only get speeds of around 40KB/s using Firefox. It's hard not to love this raw speed and I think you might too.

Oh, and to go off-topic here, it's nice to know we are steadily chipping away at the Windows user base in Bezurk. The colleague who introduced me to Axel recently switched to Ubuntu (he's been waiting for Ubuntu 7.04). It was painful to set it up correctly (the KDE part of Kubuntu, not Ubuntu itself), but I think he's much happier working on Linux for some inexplicable reason.