Using File Sharing Networks
Choosing a program
Visit file sharing for some ideas and look at what is available for your Operating System and which programs meet your specific requirements. Read user reviews and check file sharing websites for the latest developments and to determine whether applications contain spyware, adverising, etc that you may wish to avoid. Zeropaid is a good for this but does not check new programs it lists for spyware, so look for programs that have been available for more than a few weeks.
Some people may not be willing to try various progams to find the best product, but this seems to be the best with so many choices available. Many networks are new, while most network designs undergo regular updates.
- Note: Most networks do not encrypt their traffic, so it will be easy to see (by one's government, provider and even for those people who are on the same LAN or hub with you) which files you download, upload or search for. Some networks, possibly a majority of the larger ones, are reported to be monitored by third party businesses for the purpose of tracing copyright infringement information.
Be patient, not all networks are instant or even permanent. Once connected a good system should just stay that way and be able to work in the background, fetching selected files.
Finding valuable files to download is not always an easy thing to do. Begin with common keywords or the names of producers of content such as musicians, bands or series titles, etc. Look at some of the hits you get, you can sometimes delve deeper into a genre or other form of content classification to find related works by looking at album or compilation names and searching for more entries with those keywords.
Some programs allow for browsing the collections of other users directly. If you are searching for keywords and find some hits, and manage to download from a user, try browsing them to sample some of the rest of their shares. It's possible you could find more items which would interest you which are related to your first few downloads. You could even chat with that user to ask about related works.
Another way to find music is to check the webpages of djs and radio station playlists. Doing research like this can be invaluable. See also How To Search.
In some networks, you can search not only by filenames etc, but by file hash as well. This method reduces fake hits, and sometimes allows the posting of links (to files in the p2p networks) on web pages. Also it helps all people share one version of each file, which is important for networks which allow multi-source downloading.
If you can combine all methods for searching initially you might find a number of favourable sources for files to download.
- Searching File Sharing Networks using Generic Keywords
- /Refining Your Search
- /Broadening Your Search
Once again be patient and if you can preview your downloads, especially, if your unfamiliar with the material or using an narrowband connection. This helps to save network bandwidth.
Users will often get far better search results, connections, etc on the weekend when more people are sharing from home.
Try to share at least some files and try to ensure your shared files are appropriately named. Even better add or make your own digital copies of material you have. If possible contribute fresh, original material of whatever digital content you produce or create yourself to file sharing networks as well.
Going The Distance
What you can do to make file sharing a better experience for everyone
- When sharing files on the network, please use /Naming Conventions to name your files.
- Do not share your incomplete downloads unless your file sharing network specifically desires that (like EDonkey2000). Always share your complete downloads.
- Use anti-virus software to protect yourself and make sure that files you are sharing on your hard drive do not get distributed.
- Keep your new downloads separate from your permanent archive.
- Listen to, and verify the content of your new downloads before putting them into your permanent archive. It does nobody any good to have pops and skips or other corruption in a file, like a cuckoo's egg.
- more to be added...
Today's most popular and well-known sharing networks and clients, with short description of key features:
- http://retroshare.sf.net serverless Instant Messenger with Encryption and File Sharing
- eDonkey, with eMule and mlDonkey clients (known as best network for large files - movies, ISO, full music albums etc. Semicentralised)
- WinMX (one of the best for .mp3 files. Semicentralised) and NapMX (a useful tool for connecting to OpenNapster servers)
- SoulSeek (one of the best for .mp3 files, along with WinMX, especially good for rare electronic music. Centralised)
- KaZaA (notorious by outstanding amount of spyware bundled with it - silently installs and runs about ten different .exe-files in different directories on user hdd. Semi-centralised) - Non-spyware version available.
- Different OpenNap networks (are just a smithereens of old good Napster. Obsolete)
- Overnet (Long avaited fully decentralised version of eDonkey. eMule source excanging made that network obsolete before it was finally born)
- Gnutella, with many clients such as Bearshare, Limewire, Gnucleus...(First fully decentralised network. It has shown all the weakness of decentralised architecture, and it solved many of them. )
- Bit Torrent A useful and very simple file sharing tool. Most notably used by RedHat Linux to distribute its free product.
For better security/anonymity in file sharing see: Encrypting Your File Sharing