The 4 Best WordPress Download Manager Plugins

Read this before you choose a download manager plugin for your WordPress website.

The process of selling, tracking, or distributing digital products on a WordPress website has a lot of moving parts. 

If you’re looking to offer downloadable files on your WordPress site, you need more than a simple file manager. In this article, we’ll look at the top 4 WordPress download manager plugins that bring an end-to-end digital file management system straight to your WordPress-powered website.

But before we see them, let’s zoom in on the essential functionalities a WordPress download manager plugin should offer.

TL;DR version


How can a WordPress Download Manager plugin help your business?

A good WordPress download manager plugin should be able to successfully accomplish a few key tasks – such as file protection, file download tracking, or lead generation.

Using a plugin that can successfully achieve all of the above will free up more time for you to focus on growing your business without ever having to worry about the safety of your digital files.

How we picked

We focused on finding download managers with the best overall combination of the following:

  1. Offers a simple interface for file management.
  2. Doesn’t ruin your existing website design. (provides design customization options)
  3. Allows you to track who downloads your files.
  4. Protects your files from unauthorized access. (including from search engines)
  5. Allows you to offer digital files in exchange for email addresses. (lead generation)
Simple logistics

First and foremost, setting up your download(s) shouldn’t take more than a few clicks.

adding a downloadable digital product
Setting up a digital download with Download Monitor

For a more detailed tutorial, you can check out this link: Adding your first download in Download Monitor.

When we’re talking about file logistics, we’re not just talking about how easy it is to add downloads – we’re also talking about offsite storage, encryption, and link expiry. A good download manager should have the option to offload your files to a 3rd party file storage solution, such as Google Drive or Amazon S3 – for enhanced file security.

And if you’re in the software business, version management is yet another critical aspect of digital file management. Your download manager of choice should allow you to easily manage multiple file versions in its backend.

Luckily, Download Monitor is one of these solutions.

Customizable and user-friendly file download experiences

The second thing you’ll want to do after you’ve created your first download is to offer a way for your users to access it. Creating a download link or a download button shouldn’t feel like a chore with the download manager plugin of your choice.

Download Monitor – button creation

As you can see from the above screenshot, creating buttons, adding icons, or changing colors is very easy to accomplish with Download Monitor.

Access control provisions

As a core feature, any download manager plugin you end up choosing from our list of recommendations should be able to offer a set of access control options. You wouldn’t want anyone accessing your protected files, right?

As a minimum layer of protection, you should be able to set up access rules to restrict access to users based on their user roles or IP addresses — for example, allowing unrestricted access or blocking an IP address altogether.

access rules by role, user, IP
Advanced Access Manager – for Download Monitor

Being able to apply global rules, especially if you’ve already built up a large file library is a must. Not only will you save a lot of time with this, but you’ll be able to quickly

Other than these, measures like enforcing captcha and usage terms and conditions are also valuable features in a WordPress file download management plugin.

Tracking mechanisms

Your download manager plugin must make managing, tracking, and controlling your file downloads in WordPress effortless. 

Download logs registering additional download data
Download tracking via Download Monitor

Download tracking is important as download stats tracking helps you to:

  • See what your most downloaded freebies or digital products are so that you can create more of them. 
  • Fight usage abuse (a common nuisance when working with digital files). 
Sales and marketing tools 

Email addresses are currency and opt-ins are transactions.

Offering freebies in exchange for an email address is not a new concept. People have been doing this for ages. We’ve had all types of email forms – first, we had simple HTML forms placed at the beginning or at the end of a piece of content.

Then, we moved on to popups – where the user clicked on a link, a pop-up would open up and you’d be invited to enter your email address in exchange for access to a PDF file. Also called a lead-gen (lead generation) type of form.

People have been handing out their email addresses in exchange for freebies for many many years. And will continue to do so as long as the offer is attractive enough for them.

Now, another term for lead generation is content locking. You can lock your digital files behind an email (or form) lock and this, in turn, will dramatically help you grow your email list

Download Monitor offers a full suite of content locking extensions to help you grow your email list – ranging from our Gravity Forms gated content integration to more common use-cases such as email locking.

restrict access by requiring users an email address
Here’s how a locked piece of content looks in Download Monitor

WordPress Download Manager plugins at a glance

PluginsTypeActive installsWordPress.org Rating
WooCommerceFile management5,000,000+4.5/5 stars
Download MonitorFile management + store builder100.000+4.5/5 stars
Download ManagerFile management100.000+4.1/5 star
Easy Digital DownloadsDigital products store builder50,000+4.7/5 stars
*The table above is sorted in descending order by active install count.

WooCommerce

Any WordPress website owner who plans to offer downloads for sale or free distribution will likely look into WooCommerce at some point. After all, just as WooCommerce helps you set up regular eCommerce shopping sites, it also makes it easy to create digital product stores where you can sell PDFs, audio files, videos, and other digital content.

💳 Pricing:

  • starts at $249/yr and up to $2,500 or more
  • No lifetime license option
👍 PROs
  • Large user base (over 5M users)
  • Supported by Automattic (the parent company behind WordPress.com)
  • Big community around it
👎 CONs
  • Wasn’t built to handle digital files
  • Get expensive really fast
  • Heavy and cumbersome as a digital file solution
  • Requires special hosting

⚠️ While WooCommerce does double up as a WordPress file manager, its digital file management capabilities aren’t as mature as those of a dedicated WordPress digital file solution like Download Monitor. In fact, WooCommerce’s functionalities feel very basic against Download Monitor’s WordPress file managing and tracking capabilities. You can read more about how WooCommerce stacks up as a digital products store builder and file manager in this post: Should you open a WooCommerce digital downloads store to sell your digital products


Download Monitor

Download Monitor is a WordPress digital products store builder plugin that doubles up as a file manager. You can use it to insert downloads into your current posts and pages, add a digital products store to your current WordPress website, or create a full-blown digital products eCommerce store.

💳 Pricing:

  • $69 – $199/yr (includes all extensions)
  • Lifetime licenses are available as well
👍 PROs
  • Sell or distribute your digital files.
  • Easy file management
  • Advanced file activity reporting
  • Content locking via Twitter, forms, or email
  • Create beautiful, customizable download experiences
👎 CONs
  • Only PayPal as a payment gateway
  • Only Amazon S3 and Google Drive for file offloading

Download Manager

Download Manager is another file management plugin for WordPress that doubles up as an eCommerce store builder. It’s an “all-in-one digital resource management solution” for WordPress, so you can use it to start a digital products business.

💳 Pricing:

  • $59 – $299/yr for select extension packs.
  • Full access is – $299 – $699 /year
👍 PROs
  • Supports Google Drive, Dropbox, Box.com, and OneDrive for offloading files. 
  • Offers password protection, media library file protection, and CAPTCHA
  • Offers guest download and checkout experiences. 
  • Offers support for creating recurring subscriptions
👎 CONs
  • UI is very complicated to navigate
  • Needs a lot of extensions to work, even for basic things like reporting
  • File activity reporting is done via a log, instead of a chart

Easy Digital Downloads

Easy Digital Downloads is yet another online digital products store builder with an in-built file management system. It’s being touted as a complete “eCommerce solution for selling digital products on WordPress.” 

💳 Pricing:

  • $99.50 – $499.50 for the 1st year
  • renews at 2x the price for the 2nd year onwards
👍 PROs
  • Developer friendly
  • Comes with dedicated themes for setting up a digital shop
  • Offers both PayPal and Stripe integration for free
👎 CONs
  • PRO features get expensive fast
  • Stripe integration charges a 2% “commission fee” out of every sale you make
  • Tweaking basic things, like the checkout page requires a developer

Wrapping it up… 

To set up digital products for sale or distribution with the simplest possible setup, Download Monitor is your best choice. It brings a fully-featured file download system to your WordPress website in just a few simple steps. 

In addition to being a great WooCommerce alternative for selling and distributing digital products via a WordPress site, Download Monitor is also a better option over SaaS digital store builder solutions like Shopify.

Over 100,000 WordPress stores and websites use Download Monitor as their digital file delivery system. However, we often see our users immediately installing a few of our premium extensions once their stores are up and running.

Remember to check out our Complete plan when you get our core plugin. It has everything you need to manage your WordPress file download needs. 

Raiber Cristian
Raiber Cristian

Self-taught entrepreneur with a deep passion for learning, understanding human nature, and what drives businesses forward. CEO of WPChill. Our products are being used by over 750,000 users, every day. Connect with me on Twitter.

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