Wanted: WordPress Plugin for managing free downloadable files

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This article is about WordPress plugins for managing downloadable content such as .zip files, pdf files, .psd files, etc., on a WordPress site. The plugins I’ve explored so far are Download-Manager, Download Monitor, and Marketpress. Download Monitor, and Marketpress is a shopping cart plugin but the first two are plugins developed specifically for managing downloadable content. They all have their strengths and weaknesses but none worked for my particular situation.

The Problem.

I have a network of WordPress sites running on a WP Multisite network. My problem is that I want to give away art and graphics for free on one of my network websites but managing the free content is proving to be really difficult. At first it was simple: Go into WordPress, add a new post, upload and attach media that can be downloaded by clicking. Other media, such as PDF files and .zip files would be uploaded to the server and linked to in a post. Not a big deal. Over time however, I’ve added lots of stuff and it’s getting harder to maintain.

While my web site began life years ago as my online portfolio only, it has evolved over time and now has become much more, including my future plan to make part of the site a shopping cart and begin selling my art, motorcycle stuff and other things. Along the way I decided to share some of my graphics for free, just as a way to give back or at least contribute to other designers, developers and artists who benefit from and use free graphics and art provided by other folks out there. I also provide help with Photoshop, Illustrator, or any other Adobe app for anyone who needs it.
I try to keep adding new content but managing all the stuff is taking up most of my time. I decided to look for a plugin or something to help with the content management.

The Plugins.

In a previous post, I mentioned the first plugin I tried to help manage the content. It was Download Manager, and it worked, at first. Turns out the Pro version that I purchased would only do a single domain and to handle more, additional licenses had to be purchased; a detail never mentioned up front. The free version worked great but lacked most of the features of the Pro version. Purchasing a license for an additional domain is over $100 in addition to the $45 for the Pro version. Too much for me right now.

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Following that fiasco, I looked for other options and decided to try MarketPress by WPMU. My thought here was that the site will soon be running a shopping cart anyway, so maybe I could start by using it to manage the free content and downloads. This didn’t work either because as a shopping cart system, everything is designed for purchasing items, not giving them away. I couldn’t find a simple way to use it for free downloads or I would have purchased the full version.

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