When you’re trying to download files for free from filehosters that offer premium accounts, you’re likely to run into certain download restrictions. With free downloads, usually there are ads, usually the downloads are slow and usually there’s a per-hour or per-day limitation on the number of files that you can download. Or, maybe there’s restrictions on the MBs or GBs you can download per hour or day.
Now, to get this out of the way: there is likely nothing you can do about slow speeds for free downloads. Download speeds limited to 100kbps or even 50kbps for free downloads is pretty common amongst premium filehosters. These speeds are limited on the filehoster side, so they are in control of that. However, the only way that filehosting sites can enforce their hourly or daily limits is by tracking you. So, if you can present yourself as a new visitor to a download site, it should allow you to download files again, just as if it was your first download of the day.
Before digging into this, this guide is designed for desktop / laptop downloads. I am unfamiliar with the technical aspects of mobile tracking and how it may differ from desktop / laptops. While many of the tracking and obfuscation methods below can apply to mobile devices, having two independent internet connections (mobile data from phone service and WiFi from a local ISP) running simultaneously that may behave differently on a per-app basis could complicate obfuscation.
How filehosting websites track you
There are numerous ways that websites can keep track of you to enforce their download limits. While these user-tracking options apply to all websites, premium filehosting sites that offer free downloads have a vested interest in enforcing their free download limits (so they can sell premium accounts), so you should expect that some free download sites may employ multiple tactics in some cases.
First and foremost, websites can track you if you’re logged into an account on a download site. If you want or need to login to a website to download files for free, you can still bypass download limits but it will take a lot of extra work. Instructions will be given below.
There are many more tracking methods that websites can use, but these are the most common.
How to present yourself as a “new visitor” to bypass download limits
In most cases if you’re not logged into a website, online tracking is predominantly tied to your web browser and IP address. In simple terms: with a new web browser and new IP address, you are a new visitor.
So, in order to bypass download limits, you need a couple of things:
- A VPN. Paid or free, it doesn’t matter. However, you may have better luck with a paid VPN service with a large list of servers vs using several free VPN services.
- Multiple browsers. Firefox, Chrome, Chromium, Opera, etc. Or, you can use a couple of different browsers but run portable versions
I also recommend that you use a user-agent switcher app (info) in one or more browsers along with different extensions / addons. Here are examples of user-agent switchers in the Chrome webstore and Firefox appstore. There are lots available. Having different addons / extensions in different browsers, especially if you’re spoofing the user agent, will change each browser’s unique fingerprint, which can help you evade detection.
Unless you have a VPN service that also offers a browser app (to change the IP for all web-browser activities), you’ll only be able to download files one session at a time. If your VPN offers a browser app, you could potentially run multiple simultaneous downloads using different browsers.
Downloading files and bypassing download limits as a “new visitor”
Really, the process is pretty simple, but really depends on your VPN options.
VPN with web browser extensions/ addons
If you have a VPNservice that offers a browser extension, then you can simply load up each browser, install a few extensions / addons (preferably not the same in each browser instance), ideally a user-agent switcher if using multiples of the same browser (Chrome, Firefox, etc). Then, install the VPN app, login to your account and connect to a different VPN server for each web browser instance.
Once this is set, you can access the download links in each browser and should be able to download from the same site simultaneously, even if they have download limits in place.
System-wide VPN / VPN without a browser extension
If your VPN doesn’t offer a browser extension, then you’ll need to go through and setup each web browser, but once setup, close all of them but one. Then, connect to the VPN with your desktop client. You can download your files and once the downloads are complete, you close your browser instance, disconnect from the VPN server, connect to a new (different) VPN server, then launch a new / different web browser that you setup for downloading.
Repeat as needed.
Bypassing download limits when logging in is required
If you need to login to a website in order to download a file (this includes if using a download manager with login credentials!), you will need to:
- Create email addresses for however many unique identities you want to use. Best to use a mix of email providers and non-similar usernames.
- Setup the same number of separate browsers between installed and portable
- Try to make the addons / extensions and/or user agent unique for each browser instance
- Create an an account with the download site with each browser instance using a different email address and a different VPN server
- Be sure to make note of which VPN server goes with each browser profile. Otherwise, you may increase your chance of losing your accounts with the filehosting / download sites.
Why cleaning your cache and cookies isn’t always enough
Some people may suggest that simply clearing your browser’s cache, cookies and history is enough to bypass download limits for free hosting sites. In some cases, it might be. However, certainly for some, if not most — it won’t. Some common user tracking methods can persist even if you clear your cache, cookies and history and restart your browser. Plus, clearing your browser’s history won’t change your IP address. Further, it won’t change your web browser’s likely-unique fingerprint, and beyond that: data stored in local storage, if it’s not session storage, can be stored indefinitely and needs to be manually removed.
If you’d like to see / remove local storage data used by a specific website, you’ll need to navigate to the website you want to check and follow the instructions here, but run them from the website you want to clear from.
If you’d like more info on the insidious methods that can be used to track you when browsing the web, of which there are at least 15-20, check out the Wikipedia pages on Zombie cookies and Supercookies.
Alternative to free but slow downloads
If you only need to download a few files or you’re flat-out broke, then bypassing download limits can be a good option, or even the best option. However, if your downloads require a premium account, or you are downloading a lot of files, it may make sense to just purchase a premium account (if downloading from one filehosting site only on an ongoing basis) or a premium leech / premium link generator like Linksnappy to download from several different download sites as a premium member.
Of course, you’d want to be check the link generator to be sure they support your download sites, but premium link generators are a good option for downloading files quickly, especially from premium account download sites.
Bypassing download limits for free downloads is a good way to get the files you want, only much faster. There can be a lot of steps involved, but if you’re only needing a few files and want to finish those downloads today versus a week from today, maybe this guide can help you to that end.