I'm kind of tired of having to do a full clean install every time an update is released (I play around with SE about once or twice a month, so it's really annoying for me.). I'd like to propose a extra methods to how updates should be distributed:
Metalinks. Magnet links are only for torrent users, but some users aren't allowed to use or don't have torrent clients. As an alternative, some browsers accept metalinks, which are basically a list of mirrors that the same exact file can be downloaded from. This helps balancing the load between servers.
Rsync. Rsync can facilitate the creation of new SE download mirrors because they automatically grab any new changes to the official mirror. You can also make a SE update program that uses rsync to only get new files. Files that haven't been changed won't have to be deleted and replaced with the exact same copy. When large files have to be updated, only the blocks that have changed will be replaced.
Pre-made path files. This shouldn't even be done because it is a troublesome and time-consuming process.
Amazon S3/Dropbox. Dropbox is a more trusted and well-known file hosting service, and it has pretty fast download speeds (and infinite bandwidth). Wuala is a more unfamiliar source and sounds shady.
Only if you pay them. Otherwise they are quite restrictive on how much bandwidth you can use (they're sent me emails many times telling me that they suspended certain files from download due to exceeding bandwidth limits). They also have low limits on how much data you can store. Switching to Yandex.Disk and Google Drive (from a host point of view Yandex is the best) has made my life so much easier both for hosting my personal files and mirroring others. Much more data storage and no bandwidth restrictions.
Wuala is a more unfamiliar source and sounds shady.
It has actually proven to be one of the best and most reliable hosts. Unfamiliar name does not necessarily equal bad service.
And as RockoRocks said, in the recent past updates have been released very rarely, every 8-9 months or so, and downloading and extracting an archive (or running an installer) are simple tasks that require very little time (unless your internet connection is extremely slow). So it's not overly inconvenient.
Anyway, better distribution and update methods will certainly be implemented in the future. SE will be on Steam at some point so if you're a Steam user then that solves your problem. For those who prefer not to use Steam there will probably be something along the lines of your suggestion.
Switching to Yandex.Disk and Google Drive (from a host point of view Yandex is the best) has made my life so much easier both for hosting my personal files and mirroring others. Much more data storage and no bandwidth restrictions.
Are you sure? A couple of times both Yandex and Google restricted download temporarily because the download was too popular.
Another thing that could be done is set up an ad-run Amazon S3 mirror which provides a very fast download with redundancy (regional data centers can all get a copy of the data so that most people worldwide get equally fast download speeds). However, it will have to depend on a stable number of users who download SE from that S3 mirror because if there are too few downloaders, then there won't be enough ad revenue collected to support the service. But if there are too many of them, then the bill will be too high for the ad revenue to cover completely.
Actually I'm not sure, thanks for checking me on that. But they do seem to be much less restrictive on bandwidth than Dropbox, as I haven't had any issues with people not being able to download my things since I switched, whereas previously I had constant bandwidth restriction issues.
Another thing that could be done is set up an ad-run Amazon S3 mirror which provides a very fast download with redundancy
Based on your description, that sounds like more trouble than it's worth. Free hosting sites and especially torrents (by far the best way if you want to distribute things among a lot of people, as long as enough of them seed) sound like better options that that one.