AutoCAD 2012 – Downloading the trial is a trial

Let’s say you’re trying to download some software and it insists on first installing some intermediary download manager. Do you think, “Great, this will make my life easier, things are bound to go quickly and smoothly now”? No, didn’t think so. How about when it’s by Akamai? Does that make you feel more confident? No, nor me.

If I download stuff without a manager, it just works. Sometimes it’s slow, but it works. If I use a general-purpose download manager that’s part of my browser, or one I chose to install and use (e.g. Free Download Manager), things generally go very well. If there’s a direct download link to use, success and a very quick download are almost guaranteed. But it seems that every time some company wants to force a download manager on me, something bad happens. Now maybe I’m only remembering the failures and forgetting the successes, but I’m absolutely sure that download reliability is way, way poorer when companies insist on inflicting their download managers on me. I’ve had issues with them at home with a straightforward ADSL connection, and I’ve had no end of problems with them at work in a proxy server environment. Even when they work, the download speed is generally significantly poorer than when I use something like Free Download Manager.

The latest in a long line of download manager difficulties is this morning’s attempted download of the AutoCAD 2012 trial. Why, as a Subscription customer, am I downloading the trial? Why don’t I just get it from the Subscription Center? Because Autodesk hasn’t got around to putting 2012 on there yet. Paying customers come some way down the priority list, apparently. I hope it’s just a temporary delay, because last year here in Australia the delivery of AutoCAD 2011 software to customers was a complete debacle that took some weeks to sort out.

I went to the AutoCAD 2012 Trial page yesterday. At the time, it said 2012 wasn’t available to me, but by this morning that has been fixed. So I went through the fill-in-your-details stuff, and was told to Click “run” or “open” to start the installer. There was no “run” available, so I clicked on the link that said Don’t see the installer? Try reopening it. I got a Security Warning dialog with the option to Run something called installer.exe from client.akamai.com.

Now at this point I’m getting pretty dubious about this process, as I’m being asked to put faith in an undocumented and generically named executable that does who-knows-what, from a company that has messed things up on numerous past occasions. Call me an inveterate optimist, but I crossed my fingers and picked Run anyway. Then I got another Security Warning dialog to run Akamai Installer. Fingers still crossed, I hit Run again. A small Connecting… progress panel appeared, which almost immediately got a quarter of the way though, then threw up an Install Error. Can’t say I was surprised, really. I went through the process several times and couldn’t find a simple download link anywhere. I gave up on this and decided to try later at home.

At home, free of any proxy server complications, I had another go at it. This time, running installer.exe seemed to work, the installing-the-installer-to-download-the-installer-installer progress bar got all the way to the end, and the download allegedly started. A progress bar appeared on Autodesk’s download page, purporting to show the progress. Unlike a proper download manager, there is no mention anywhere of the size of the file, the amount downloaded so far, or the rate at which data is being transferred, so this bar is all I have to go on. In the past, a large AutoCAD download has taken 20 to 30 minutes using Free Download Manager. As I type, 32 minutes into the alleged download, have a guess at how far the progress bar has moved. Half way, perhaps? A bit less? Nope, it hasn’t moved at all. Not one pixel. My browser is sitting there, alternating between saying Waiting for 127.0.0.1 and Transferring data from 127.0.0.1, but otherwise appearing to do nothing. A brief speed test tells me that my ADSL is running at pretty normal speed while this is going on, so it’s my guess that nothing useful is really happening.

Akamai download manger fail. Again.

Autodesk isn’t the only culprit here. There are other companies who insist on throwing this sort of unnecessary complication into the lives of their customers and potential customers. For example, Adobe is doing its best to make Flash unpopular by inflicting unpopular and bloated download managers on its users.

I know Autodesk will say that it has to use a content delivery network like that provided by Akamai in order to prevent server bottlenecks when providing large files to lots of people. I can see that is a legitimate problem, but these download managers are a clumsy and inappropriate solution. There are countless other places on the Internet that don’t do this. Most downloads I perform just use a simple link. Guess what? They just work.

Companies, don’t leverage your technology to simplify and enhance my seamlessly integrated user experience with your intrusive download managers. Just provide a simple link to the file the downloader is trying to download. It’s not rocket science, so don’t try to make it overcomplicated. If you really, really insist on offering a download manager, make sure it’s optional and there’s a real link available. Please.

Edit: Thanks to a comment from Helper, I have successfully downloaded AutoCAD 2012 using Opera. Downloading and installing Opera was very quick, and Autodesk/Akamai doesn’t support it, so a real link is provided instead. Opera’s built-in download features are showed me exactly what was going on, and it took about 45 minutes to download the 64-bit version. Doing the same initial steps again with the 32-bit version, I copied and pasted the link into Free Download Manager, rather than letting Opera do the download. This time, it took about 14 minutes. Awesome!

22 comments to AutoCAD 2012 – Downloading the trial is a trial

  • The Adobe thing drives me nuts. There are places to get Adobe Reader and Flash Player without having to use their stupid DLM.

    Flash Player: http://www.ghacks.net/2010/02/27/download-adobe-flash-without-adobe-download-manager/

    Adobe Reader: http://ftp//ftp.adobe.com/pub/adobe/reader/

  • Yes, I had to use the Adobe FTP site to perform a simple update a couple of weeks back, after multiple DLM-triggered failures. Unfortunately, Autodesk doesn’t provide that workaround.

  • Helper

    Use a different, not-supported browser like Opera. No Akamai, just direct link to the file.

  • Have you actually done this with the 2012 download? I don’t have Opera installed at the moment but I’ve tried IE8, Firefox, Safari and Chrome. They all use the Akamai thing with no visible sign of download progress.

  • jespizua

    That opera trick worked perfect! Thanks

  • Helper, you’ve lived up to your name! It’s currently downloading for me using Opera, and it looks like it’s going to take about 40 to 45 minutes. Excellent!

  • Chris Cowgill

    Finally, this morning 2012 showed up in subscription, and of course at our office I have to download both the 32 and 64 bit versions. I couldnt get the download manager to work at all from Autodesk, and Free Download Manager’s plugin hasnt been updated for Firefox 4. So after a couple hours of supper slow downloading (seems like it stopped to me) of using the default downloader for firefox, I had a “brilliant” idea, I opened Download Manager, and copied the download link from Firefox download dialog and pasted it into download manager. The 32 bit version downloaded in just over an hour, in that same time the 64bit version only completed 5% and was downloading at 0B/s. I have since needed to stop and restart the download 3 times, each time it revives to my whopping 340KB/s download speed. Based on the current timer, I only have 45 minutes to go (30% complete)

  • Chris Cowgill

    Dont you hate those supper downloads, sorry, I meant to say super.

    • I am trying to download AutoCad 2012 trail 64 bit. I started downloading at 1 this morning and its been running all night using the download manager. Everything was working ok when I left it the manager had download, and the progress bar had appeard to download the files. when I got up this morning there is no download bar anywhere just a blank gap under :Downloading AutoCAD_2012_English_Win_64bit.exe . Does any one know if I can just re-install it as I am not on subscription? Please help its like watching paint dry!!

      • Roger, I suggest you avoid the Autodesk/Akamai download manager. Download and install Opera and Free Download Manager as described above.

        • Hi Steve, to be honest I have no idea as to what is going on! I spent the last 2 days clicking small arrows on the Auto Cad 2012 bar but it seemed to be stuck in some sort of loop (I’m not a IT person but never had any problems Downloading a 30-day trial of 3d Max last month) which has been uninstalled. Any way I have downloaded Opera and waiting again for it to download but am trying the 32bit version in the hope that it wont take so long!
          Having said that it has been downloading since 8am this morning and it’s now 2.30pm and it has only downloaded 7%. Is there a limit to the amount of 30-day trials you can download if this goes wrong again can I try again, is there some sort of free software I can download to see if there any errors on my Laptop?

          Many thanks
          Roger

          • Roger, did you also install Free Download Manager? Using Opera will give you a direct link that allows you to bypass Akamai, giving me a 45-minute download. Using Opera to get the direct link and using Free Download Manager to actually perform the download got it to me in 14 minutes. Your connection may vary…

            I don’t think there’s a limit on how many times you can download it. If you’re running 64-bit Windows, don’t try to save time by getting the 32-bit version – you need the right version or you’ll just waste all that download time.

            If it’s all getting too hard, your local Autodesk dealer should be able to provide you with a copy on a DVD.

  • Helper

    You’re welcome;-)
    It should also work for Adobe downloads. At least it works for me.

  • Did you notice the system requirements for the Akamai Download Manager? Windows 7 is not supported. Also, it fails if you try to save the file to a mapped network drive (even if it’s a local drive). http://images.autodesk.com/adsk/files/about_download_manager.pdf

  • I hadn’t noticed, but that’s just laughable. I mean really, WTF?

  • Matt Stachoni

    If you go to your Download Settings (link should be on the downloads page) you can opt out of the whole download manager mess and do a straight browser download. I just downloaded AutoCAD, ACA, and AMEP 2012 in less than two hours total. And our Internet connection sucks.

  • There’s no Download Settings link on the pages I’m seeing.

  • Chris Cowgill

    It is under the subscription center, not for the free trial.

  • Ah, I see, no wonder I was confused. I just checked the Subscription downloads again; no joy. The setting is there all right, just not the software. The oversized AutoCAD 2012 Multilingual 32-bit is there, and AutoCAD 2012 Korean/Chinese 64-bit, but not AutoCAD 2012 English in either 32 or 64 bit, and I need both. So the trial is still my only option.

  • Sorry, a bit off topic, but I also just love these DLM/installers that try to sneak in other software like browser toolbars… (*cough* JAVA *cough*) — which is a good example of why we don’t let regular users install anything.

  • Agreed, I hate software that does that. All Ashampoo products are on my permanent blacklist because one product I evaluated stuck something in my browser, unasked.

  • my autoCAd 2012 is not downloading…can anyone guide me an easy way to downlad it?

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