P2P Clients and Networks

In the beginning there was Napster.  It was the program to use for downloading music off the Internet.  After Napster came Scour Exchange, which added the ability to share movies, documents, programs, and just about anything else in addition to music.

But then, along came the RIAA to rain on Napster's party.  Napster was shut down and people could no longer use it to download the music they wanted.  Such was also the fate of Scour Exchange.

In the midst of this problem, several new networks were created for users to share files with one another.  But, unlike Napster and Scour Exchange, these programs primarily were built on new decentralized technology, so that no one server would bear the responsibility of linking users together.  This made them nearly impossible to shut down by groups such as the RIAA.

Unfortunately, all of these new networks make it very confusing to pick an application for your file swapping needs.  There is no one client that is good for everything and everyone.  So that's why I created this page: to help you decide which client or clients are right for you.

I have listed the networks below in order of my personal preference.  An asterisk (*) indicates a program I use and recommend for the particular network.


This network works a little differently than other P2P networks.  Instead of searching for files within a network of users, you download .torrent files from the world wide web.  The torrent file contains information about a tracker, which is responsible for negotiating transfers.  The way it works is someone seeds the file by sending chunks of it to several other users.  Those users then transfer those chunks between each other and other new clients, and they all work together to help each other download the file.

Pros: It's fast, easy to use, and there are no leechers (people who download a lot of files but do not upload anything).  Has a hashing function to check files for you.

Cons: Not very many unpopular files.  No search function.  Uses a lot of CPU power.  Many old .torrent files contain outdated tracker information and are therefore useless.

Best for: Large popular files.  In particular, new releases.

BitTorrent Clients: MicroTorrent*, BitComet, Shareaza, BitTorrent, others


eDonkey is infamous for very long queues and slow download times.  This is because it was designed to transfer large files, and also because the network itself has a lot of bugs and holes in it.

Pros: Hashing automatically checks files for corruption and re-downloads only the parts of your files that are corrupted.  Large assortment of rare and hard-to-find files.  Huge user base.

Cons: Slower than BitTorrent.  Not many individual music files; just full albums in .zip format.

Best for: Files that are large, rare, and unpopular.

eDonkey clients: Shareaza*, eMule*, mlDonkey

Gnutella/Gnutella 2

The FastTrack network was actually based on Gnutella (and of course, so was Gnutella 2).  This was the original decentralized P2P network and it has been around for a while.

Pros: Also has file hashing like eDonkey.  No long queues.

Cons: Not as many files as eDonkey and not as fast as FastTrack, BitTorrent, and Direct Connect

Best for: Individual music files

Gnutella clients: Shareaza*, Limewire, mlDonkey, Morpheus

Direct Connect

This is another network that has been around for a while.  It is similar to IRC, but it has functions to search for files, and everyone who is connected to a hub must share a certain amount of files.

Reasons to use Direct Connect: Lots of rare files (though not as many as eDonkey), fast transfers

Reasons not to use Direct Connect: No multi-source downloading, so if a user who is sending you a file quits, you probably have to start over from the beginning.  Can only search in the hub(s) you are connected to.  No hashing.  Harder to use than the above programs.

Best for: Large files that are not very popular, but not unpopular either

DC Clients: DC++


First of all, let me start out by saying do not use KaZaA.  It is loaded with spyware and will cause your PC to run slow and be a tool used by corporations to monitor your Internet activity.

Reasons to use K++: Popular files download quickly, large user base, multi-source downloading, no long queues (having to wait in line to download files)

Reasons not to use K++: No built-in feature for checking downloaded files for corruption.  Although Supernodes are supposed to be able to talk to other supernodes, you'll find that the files you download have significantly fewer sources than other programs, so unpopular files download very slowly or not at all.  Lots of leechers.

Best for: Small and medium-sized popular files.  People who like being sued by the RIAA.

FastTrack clients: Kazaa Lite, mlDonkey