Here Come the Download Speed Boosters

Apple’s iTunes store is one of the better download experiences on the Internet. But it’s still quite frustrating to download movies or television shows from the store.

It is not Apple’s fault: it is just the nature of the network — from Apple servers to your computers there are so many different points where data traffic slows down. And this problem isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

Sensing an opportunity, a bunch of start-ups have come up with products that “accelerate” downloads from online sites such as iTunes. Minneapolis-based Swarmcast has just announced a free tool called Autobahn for iTunes.

According to Swarmcast, it takes about 25 minutes to download a single TV episode (sometimes even longer), but the Autobahn Accelerator for iTunes cuts down the download time by about 90 percent. The application, which works on all flavors of Windows, IE 6 & 7 and Firefox browser, runs in the background once installed on your computer. The company is taking special pins to point out that it is also completely free of adware and spyware.

Another option for people who are annoyed by web traffic snarls is Speedbit, a company based in Israel. When we met with the company earlier this year, they mentioned that they can cut down the download time for a movie to about 40 minutes over a 5Mbps connection, and it is even faster at higher speeds. (BusinessWeek has a nice profile on the company.) The video accelerator works with most major video sites and services. (Download it here.)

Speedbit has a premium version specifically for iTunes and claims it can increase the speed of download 10 times. It currently doesn’t support Vista and OS X.

Are there other accelerators you prefer? If yes, please let us know.