As someone who spends much of my time working in the cloud, I don’t often think about large downloads being a huge issue. I remember the days of slow internet speeds and waiting what felt like forever for an album to download from Napster. Yeah, I was a broke college kid when Napster was a thing…don’t judge me. I also remember speeds picking up only to be met with the digital revolution of streaming video and the birth of digital rentals and downloads. I remember big downloads and their associated headaches – I do – but I don’t struggle with them as much as I once did.
Part of that is gigabit internet services with insane speeds and part of that is the fact that I stream most of my media these days without downloading anything. Even a mediocre LTE connection can keep my YouTube or Netflix session afloat with a bit of buffering here and there. But me and my habits aren’t necessarily indicative of the larger online behaviors across the board, and I’d venture that many people in many circumstances still have to download very large files on a very regular basis. People working on offline video edits, large-scale music tracks, or huge games on PCs have to spend a considerable time downloading large files on a regular basis. Depending on the available bandwidth, that can cause issues not just for that user, but for others on the same network as well.
A big help looks to be on the way for these users and those that are affected by their huge downloads in the way of a download scheduler for Chrome. We spotted a few commits in the Chromium Repositories this week that paint a clear picture of a feature coming to Chrome very soon that will allow downloads to be put off to a later time. The feature is beyond arbitrary, too, allowing for an actual time/date setting to allow users to decide when they would like the process to begin.
So, imagine having scenarios where you have a massive file to download over a crummy connection and, instead of just hunkering down and getting nothing else done while you wait, you could schedule this download to begin in the middle of the night when no one is on the network. Not only would that be helpful to you as the one downloading the file, it would be beneficial to everyone else on that network as well. Not to mention the fact that off-hour downloads can increase speed if the server they are coming from isn’t overwhelmed, too.
Again, this isn’t a feature I would use on a regular basis on a Chromebook, but I know there are tons of Windows, Linux and MacOS users out there that will leverage this frequently once it launches. At the end of the day, we don’t have perfect internet connections everywhere we go, so small concessions like scheduling a large download for a more opportune time could go a long way towards making a subset of users a lot more productive.