Living overseas away from easily accessible mail order, stores, and media outlets, as well as most of our personal music and video collection, we are truly blessed to be able to take advantage of peer-to-peer file sharing programs to allow us to hear and see media that we miss terribly. There is a lot of talk about how bad the file sharing services are, how packed full of viruses and abusive they are. As user of some of these services, and representing the majority of these users, we can mostly say good things about it.
The recording industry and others are doing their very best to shut these services down, but guess what, folks? Too late. They provide a valuable service above and beyond all the hype and drama. We have learned a lot of tips and tricks about using these programs, too. But for us, they are a way to access media and resources we can’t find living overseas.
According to research by two economists, Felix Oberholzer-Gee of the Harvard Business School and Koleman Strumpf of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, peer-2-peer file sharing has little or no relationship to a loss of income from the recording industry. Their study, reported in the New York Times and elsewhere, found that just because people download files doesn’t mean they will or won’t pay for the CDs. Blaming the file sharing services for the recent losses in the record industry, they concluded, overlooks the more dramatic justifications for losses in slow and bad economies worldwide and other economic trend reasons. Other research, like studies by Forrester Research indicate music downloads might even be beneficial to the music industry. Shareware is a prime example of try-before-you-buy becoming successful, helping individuals gain respect and reputation, with some growing into large profitable companies.
If you are interested in the trends, resources, and discussions about file sharing, these links and resources will help you learn more.
- Zeropaid File Sharing News and Information
- Slyck File Sharing News and Information
- Filesharingplace.com Forums for File Sharing and News
- Filesharingwatch.com News, Information and Resources
- Fast Track File Sharing Network
- Filesharingtalk.com Discussion Forums on File Sharing
- Filesharing.com’s FAQ on speeding up searches and downloads
- Sharethefiles.org News and Information for Fast Track
Currently, in spite of what the record industry and fear mongers want you to believe, you are more likely to get a virus from your email than from a downloaded file from a file sharing service. Yes, there are viruses in some of the files shared on file sharing services, but not all and certainly not a majority, as the rumor mill wants you to believe and be afraid. Currently, there is no way of actually calculating how many infected files are available for download at any one time since it is nearly impossible to get a count of how many people are actually using these services at one time. When you hear people or researchers say that “some” outrageous percentage of files on peer-to-peer file sharing networks contain viruses – don’t believe them. Since the ratio of virus-infected messages to other e-mail traffic increased by nearly 85 percent in 2003, be more afraid of your email inbox.
The best way to protect yourself from viruses from downloaded and shared files is no different than how you should treat any file you download from the Internet or accept through your email. Scan it with your virus checking software before running the program, and keep your virus checking program on and updated at all times.
File Sharing and Peer-2-Peer
Network Software Programs
There are a variety of file sharing programs available online and it is important to know how each works and the potential risks involved in using the different programs. Some contain spyware installed as part of the package. Others are spyware-free. We use several of these programs and offer a few tips and tricks below. Let’s look at some specifics.
- Kazaa runs a virus checking program within its full service program that monitors your downloads and uploads. It also slows the file transfer rates, but it does help prevent viruses. Add to your defenses with your full service anti-virus software running as well. The full version of Kazaa contains spyware even though they report that they don’t. One of their spyware programs is called Cydoor. There are add-on programs available that will delete these files and replace them with “dummy files” which act like placeholders telling the program that the spyware is still running. Search the Internet for these programs using the search terms such as “cydoor”, “Kazaa” and “spyware”. Or you could choose to run the spyware-free Kazaa Lite K++ or Kazaa Lite Resurrection.
- Kazaa Lite K++ and Kazaa Lite Resurrection
- While Kazaa has officially closed down Kazaa Lite++, it is still available if you search the Internet. It has also been “recreated” under a new name as Kazaa Lite Resurrection, and has more powerful features than the other two versions. Kazaa Lite K++ and Kazaa Lite Resurrection do not contain spyware, are free, and feature some amazing tools and powerful downloading options. In many ways, these work better than the original software. The last version produced contained the ability of doing unlimited searches, maintaining a high participation level, and tools like KaZuperNodes which allows a user to jump to a higher speed access point or to one with more files of the type they are looking for. They are also simple to install.
NOTICE: If you have installed the Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), you may have problems using Kazaa in any form. It seems that Microsoft has made it more difficult for users to get “out” as well as evil doers to get “in” and Kazaa was one of those targetted. We’re still searching for tech help files to figure out how to get Kazaa working again. We’ll let you know when we do.
- Fast Track Client Software
- Fast Track is the parent of peer-to-peer (p2p) programs, of which Kazaa is the most popular software client which uses the Fast Track network. iMesh is one another file sharing service, but it comes with “bloat” and spyware, so try the iMesh Light client software, though it does offer fewer search results and slower downloads than Kazaa, Kazaa Lite K++, Kazaa Lite Resurrection, and the full version of iMesh. The Gnutella Network has been around for a while and is still going, accessible with Fast Track software such as Xolox which is free and has some great power user features.
- Billed as the “fasted on the Internet”, LimeWire is a fast growing peer-to-peer file sharing program. So far, we haven’t found any spyware or any significant impact on our computer use, though we’ve found a bit of a slow down on our high-speed Internet access times, similar to many other programs. There is a wide variety of files available and searches can be grouped internationally to target specific language files. We found that download speeds are fast if there are lots of users with the same file, but very slow if the file isn’t very popular.
- Of all the peer-to-peer file sharing software programs we’ve tried, eDonkey, a Bit Torrent client, seems to be one of the few that survived the Windows XP SP2 upgrade. It is a very streamlined software package and we’ve found only a slight speed slow down when in use. Downloads are fast for popular programs and the reports on file download activity is set by a color bar chart, making it easy to see where your downloads are active and how far they have to go. If you are looking for Overnet or Hybrid, they are all now combined into eDonkey.
- Bit Torrent
- Bit Torrent is considered the file-sharing software of the future and allows users to download a file in pieces, called seeds, downloading many of the pieces like a puzzle from several different computers at the same time and then compiling it into one file when done. Because someone can download a part of the puzzle (seed) from your computer before you have even finished downloading, as you can from other computers, the process may go faster than traditional single file downloads. Many professional software producers are looking at Bit Torrent technology for online downloading of their programs, so this is definitely technology to look for in the future. eDonkey is gaining popularity for Bit Torrent users because of its easy use and installation and is promoted as spyware-free. Another popular client is Overnet and Overnet Pro. Overnet is now combined with eDonkey. You can download Overnet but it will ask you if you want to install eDonkey. Overnet, originally based on eDonkey, has merged back with eDonkey. Overnet is free and limited but the paid Overnet Pro version is supposed to be faster and “better”. The Shadow’s Experimental Bit Torrent Client allows the user to adjust the upload bandwidth and control a few other functions. Shareaza is another Bit Torrent program which also allows access to eDonkey2000 and the Gnutella network, and is designed for the more sophisticated power user.
Note: Bit Torrent on its own still proves to be a bit slow unless the file is extremely popular and available. eDonkey seems to be one of the better clients but more software clients are popping up all the time, so experiment until you find one that works well for your area and needs.
These are just a few of the popular file sharing software programs available.
As a long time Star Trek fan, I’ve been without any form of entertainment from the numerous Star Trek series for quite a few years, while traveling and now while living in Israel. Until two years ago, choices in media were few Israel. Using Kazaa Lite K++ and Kazaa Lite Resurrection, I was able to download the entire seven year run of Star Trek Voyager. Instead of constantly dealing with the fear of Bush’s attack on Iraq and the horrible news of suicide bombings of buses killing teenagers on their way to school, I could escape for 45 minutes to strange and distant worlds where people fought challenges much more complicated than us running away from war. I’m now working on the Stargate and Deep Space 9 series, enjoying every moment. I’m not selling these or doing any more than deleting them off my computer when I’m done to save hard drive space.
Brent is studying jazz and acoustic folk guitar. He loves listening to the different musical styles. This is his way of forgetting about the stresses of our life on the road. Unfortunately, if it ain’t top 40, finding it in Israel is very difficult, and much of what we find is pirated – sold on the streets. Using Kazaa, Kazaa Lite K++, Emusic and other paid and unpaid file sharing and music downloading programs, he has been able to access music that would take months of hunting through music shops to find, and involve leaving the country. He listens to a song or two to get a feel for the artist, and if he likes what he hears, he will buy the CD online, if he can find it, or through Ebay and have it mailed to us in Israel by his family. This process can take months.
Listening to a couple of sample files, he found a song he liked and found the artist on the Internet. The guitarist, Woody Mann, had music books, videos and teaching materials in addition to the sale of his CDs online. From his Website, Brent found out Woody was going to be in Prague teaching a workshop. We signed up and flew there for the weekend workshop and Brent got a chance to buy his CDs directly from the artist as well as work one on one with him. He had such a great time, Brent signed up for two more workshops, one in Seattle and another in Amsterdam. All from one downloaded sample song.
It isn’t all about stealing, and this is the future. The ability to access and exchange music and other media has to change to accommodate the growth in digital artistry. It’s just a fact.
If you are currently a Kazaa user, consider uninstalling the program thoroughly, (save your downloads in a different directory – even the unfinished ones) and install Kazaa Lite K++ or Kazaa Lite Resurrection. Kazaa is doing its best to stop the use of Kazaa Lite, but so far, it is still functioning and you can find copies of it spread around the Internet. Besides avoiding spyware, you will find power, control, and capabilities you never dreamed of if you are a serious Kazaa user.
Either bundled with your download file of Kazaa Lite K++, Kazaa Lite Resurrection, or available separately, there are some add-on tools that will help you get the most out of your download capabilities. We’ll look at a few and offer a few tips and tricks for using Kazaa Lite K++ and Kazaa Lite Resurrection:
- Play Fair and Play for Speed
- The process of file sharing works because people share files. If you are in this to just download and not share, stop now. What if everyone else felt that way? Everyone would be for the getting and there would be none for the giving. Don’t share everything, but share what you think people will like that isn’t illegal or harmful. Virus scan your system regularly and if you download something that is wrong or bad, delete it immediately so others won’t waste their time. Play fair and we all win through faster and accurate downloads.
- Don’t Give Out Your Email
- In Kazaa, Kazaa Lite K++, and Kazaa Lite Resurrection, the program asks for your email address and user name. Do not provide a real user name or email address. Make one up or use the defaults given. There is no need and this adds another protection Layer for your privacy.
- Share Only What You Want to Share
- Under OPTIONS, TRAFFIC in Kazaa Lite K++ and Kazaa Lite Resurrection, or in Kazaa OPTIONS, set your Shared Folder to be only the folder in which you want to share files and include only the files you want to share. Do not set it for the
C:drive or to include your
My Documents) folder. Do not include personal items like resumes (I’ve found a lot!), address books, correspondence, memos, or any personal files. Do not include playlists for your MP3 or media player or Album Art. If it is junk, move it to another place and keep it out of your Shared Folder. Check it frequently to see what is in there are only the things you really want to share.
- Screw the Participation Rate
- On Kazaa, there is a competition to get your participation rate up high so you can get access to files ahead of someone else who wants the same file. A lot of Kazaa users get into the fuss and trouble of harassing those with high participation rates or trying to force their participation rate up. Stop it. There are add-on programs that will fake your high participation rate by either speeding it up or slowing it down or keeping it the same. In Kazaa Lite K++, you choose your participation rate. If only one person is after the file, it doesn’t matter anyway. Your participation rate is based upon how many files are upload from your computer, not how many you download or have to offer. Offering hundreds of files for uploading won’t increase your participation rate, in fact, it may slow your download speeds. If you were one of the first with a copy of the video of Janet Jackson’s bared breast at the Superbowl, with that one file your participation rate would have skyrocketed. Play fair and have patience, and ignore the participation rate or find a quick cure for it.
- If Participation Rate Is Important
- Remember the key behind file sharing is SHARING FILES. The participation rate scores on how many uploads come off your computer not how many files downloaded. Your participation rate is not changed by how many files you have to offer for upload, only how many are actually chosen by others to upload. One way to increase your uploads is to make sure you check the option that allows others to see your files available for uploading. Many people aren’t sure of what they are looking or need something specific and are having trouble finding things. By viewing a list of files they may find more than what they would find from direct searches. Help everyone by allowing others to see what is in your shared folder. They can’t get access to your entire computer, just to the folder you have designated your sharing folder. Keep it clean of the junk they don’t want to see.
- Increasing Your Download Speed
- There are several ways to increase your download speeds.
- Take advantage of the tool KaZuperNodes to find a fast supernode connection
- Use the add-on program KaZuperNodes SuperList (from the newest version of KaZuperNodes) to force the program to say only with the supernodes of your preference, preferably consistently fast access points
- Use the add-on program Speed Up to keep your searches active
- If you can, make sure you have few or no other software programs running to give your computer’s memory over to your download
- Download during off hours – if everyone is competing for the same file at the same time, wait until most of the country is asleep and try for it during the off hours
- Leave your computer and file sharing program running at night or when you are away – this not only allows others to access your files, but if someone else obeys this advice, you can download from them while you both sleep
- Get the fastest Internet connection you can buy
- Keep your number of shared files low, 50 – 150 files is average – Test your speeds to see if fewer makes a difference
- Keep the number of download files in your Traffic area low, preferably under 100 – 50 is better. The harder the program is working to find a lot of different files, the slower the process for you and for the others on that supernode.
- Set your simultaneous upload permissions from a minimum of 5 to 10 – Zero is not playing fair and 20 is a bit overkill and may actually slow things down.
- Understand that the faster people can upload from you, the faster you can download from others
- Use Kazaa Lite K++ KL Extensions Options
- The KL Extensions Options inside of Kazaa Lite K++ and Kazaa Lite Resurrection (OPTIONS, KL EXTENSIONS) include some powerful features. One in particular is the Accelerator. This makes the program check the minimum download speeds and searches for other options if the download speed is too slow. You can also control other aspects of your search and “find more resources” capabilities.
- Speed Up
- Usually downloaded separately, an add-on software program called “Speed Up” goes through your list of downloading files and puts the pressure on to find new sources and keep the downloads going. Combined with Kazaa Lite K++ and Resurrection’s Accelerator, it keeps the searches and “connecting” efforts going. It must be run separately from Kazaa Lite K++ and Kazaa Lite Resurrection, but it can be loaded from the Windows Startup directory when you turn on your computer.
- See a Fast Connection – Check Out What They Have
- If you see a user giving you a high speed download, or someone uploading at a fast speed, click on the file and RIGHT CLICK, FIND MORE FROM SAME USER, or click the icon under the menu bar featuring a person with a magnifier. This will switch you to the search window and if the person has turned on the feature to allow users to get a list of their shared files, you will see all the files they have to offer in their shared folder. This will often help you find things you are specifically interested in from people who share similar interests. If you have a high speed Internet connection, turn on the feature to let others view your shared files.
- Preview Files
- Kazaa Lite K++ and Kazaa Lite Resurrection offer the ability to preview files before they have finished downloading. If you want to make sure you are downloading the right file before you waste weeks working on a download, when enough of the file has come in, click on the file name and RIGHT CLICK, PREVIEW WITH and choose one of your options. This will switch you to the Theater and allow you to view as much of the file as you have received, provided it is a viewable or playable format. If it isn’t what you want, cancel the download.
- Use Auto Search
- Kazaa Lite K++ offers a unique ability to “auto” search for your search terms over a period of time, forcing the search function to repeat the search over and over until the time period runs out. The experts recommend that you keep this number below 2 minutes as repeated searching slows down supernodes. As the program searches over the 2 minute period, new users may come on who have the file you are looking for and if you didn’t repeat the search, you might have missed them. Beware of over-using the 2 minute auto-search. It an slow down the supernode which slows down the overall network. If the file you want isn’t there, the odds are that it won’t be for a few hours. If you really want it now, jump supernodes and search again.
- Soft Jump Supernodes
- One of the features in the new Kazaa Lite Resurrection is called “soft jump”. Right click on the taskbar icon for the program and choose “Jump Supernode” and the program will automatically go to the next supernode it encounters along the network. You might find faster downloads or the files you are looking for there. Be sure and Refresh the list in KaZuperNodes and Check the Status from the new supernode to see if you can find a faster supernode to jump to from there.
- Be Kind to Others
- I used to watch every upload from my computer, worrying about where my files were going and who they were going to. After a while, I realized it didn’t matter. They were just people like me having fun with what I had to offer. So I took time to make sure what I was offering were things people wanted, that it was virus scanned and safe. I kept my list of files short, which allowed for faster uploads and increased my download times. If I had time, before shutting off my computer, even for a reboot, I would check to see how close someone was to completing an upload from my computer. I know how miserable it is to be down to the last 10 seconds of a 200 meg television show that left me suffering from a cliff hanger a week ago only to have the user turn off their computer or disconnect from the supernode, stopping my download. It could take days before I found another source to finish the last 10 seconds of the file. If I see someone with only a minute or two to go, I will wait and finish up another project before turning off the machine. It’s just nice to be nice.
KaZuperNodes and KaZuperNodes Superlist
Often found bundled with the software, KaZuperNodes monitors the supernode you are connected to. A supernode is a computer that is acting like a server, collecting the names of the files available for download from the other computers connected to it, and listing which computer has the information. It’s like a database and when you choose a file it connects you to that computer. Some supernodes are “faster” and more available than others. Some have certain kinds of files that are different from others. For instance, if you are on a supernode in Indian, you have a better chance of finding tons of Indian music, television shows and movies. On a supernode in California and you will find more technical journals, books, and health information in addition to a lot of movies.
To start KaZuperNodes do either of the following:
- RIGHT CLICK on the Kazaa Lite icon near your clock on the taskbar and choose TOOLS
- From the menu choose TOOLS, KaZuperNodes
To use KaZuperNodes program:
- At the bottom of the screen there are several small buttons. Click REFRESH to reload the list of supernodes
- Click CHECK STATUS to begin testing the supernodes access speeds
- The access speed status of the supernodes are measured from 0 (excellent) to 20 and higher or time out representing the time it took to connect to the supernode
- Click on the next button, LOCALIZE, to find the location by country or state of the supernode
- To change supernodes, double click on your choice and when you see the number come into the right hand window under NEW SUPERNODE, click the check mark
- If the program fails to connect, click the colored K (for Kazaa) to force a connection. If it still doesn’t connect, close the entire program and restart and try again – though this rarely happens.
When you find supernodes that serve you very well with speed and subjects of interest, you can save it to a Favorites List and save that file by exporting the list so you can import it later if needed.
In the newest version of KaZuperNodes is another program accessible from within KaZuperNodes called SuperList. This add-on program (usually bundled with Kazaa Lite Resurrection) accepts supernodes from your favorite’s list in KaZuperNodes. When a supernode shuts down or pauses, Kazaa will jump to another supernode without informing you, trying to stay online downloading files. If it jumps to a slower supernode, your download is slowed or you lose access to it completely. SuperList works from your provided list to reset Kazaa Lite Resurrection back on the supernodes of your choice, like a kind of babysitter, keeping you on the right track. The program does consume a bit of RAM, so unless I’m downloading something critical, I will only run it at night when I’m away from the computer.
Make KaZuperNodes’ Favorite Lists Work For You
Some files are more prevalent in certain countries. For instance, I would probably find more oriental movies and music styles from supernodes in China, Hong Kong, Japan, and nearby countries than I might find in Denmark. I might find more popular German language files in Germany than I would in Hong Kong.
Using KaZuperNodes Localize feature, you can group favorite supernodes by country. If you are finding what you want most from a specific country, or you find a particular country or area (Europe vs Canada/US) gives you faster supernodes speeds than others, sort the list by country name and delete the countries you don’t want on your favorites list. Save the favorites list to your hard drive and then check it a couple times a day for consistent time out and slow status speeds. Delete those and resave the list. Over a couple of weeks, you will find that your favorites list is fairly consistent with high speed supernodes within that country. Keep saving the list and restore it if anything happens to your favorites list. If you want to try another country or collection of high speed supernodes, repeat the proces.