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How Do I Choose the Best Peer To Peer Programs?

On a peer to peer network an individual downloading a song may be getting pieces of the song from different computers at the same time.
Peer to peer download sites may be used for sharing music.
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  • Written By: Britt Archer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2014
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When the phrase “peer to peer program” is mentioned, most people think of the illegal sharing of copyrighted material and the resulting lawsuits, such as the one regarding the popular peer to peer network Napster®. But there is more to peer to peer programs than pirated movies and music albums. Many people use peer to peer file sharing, known as P2P, to legally obtain software. One such example of legal peer to peer file sharing is music that has been released by an artist specifically for that purpose. Another example is the sharing of freeware, which is software that was designed to be free for anyone to use and distribute at will.

The software itself works to set up a peer to peer network in which computers all share a portion of resources, be it bandwidth or processing power. Some peer to peer networks operate as one large network, with everyone able to access all the information stored in a centralized hub, or node. Other peer to peer programs are decentralized, with users put on different peer to peer servers, and with nodes accessed as needed via search results. For home use, a decentralized peer to peer program is recommended, both for security and running speed of a personal computer.

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It is also important to consider which operating system a computer is using when selecting a program to use for P2P download. Software that works on Windows might not work on a computer that runs Mac or Linux. BitTorrent, a decentralized file sharing peer to peer program, is ranked among the best programs by users. BitTorrent is limited in its abilities and has a bit of a learning curve for first time users.

LimeWire® is a free P2P program that can integrate BitTorrent software into a more user-friendly interface. It is widely considered by users of peer to peer programs as the best choice for personal use. It comes in packages that support Windows, Mac and Linux, and it has a variety of upgrade-for-a-fee packages. In addition, LimeWire® always guarantees that their software is free from viruses, malware, adware and spyware, which some peer to peer programs bundle in with their software. LimeWire® has a media player included, should a person not already have one on his or her computer, and it can handle downloading files from multiple sources so that content is delivered quicker.

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Discuss this Article

behaviourism
Post 12

I admit that I, like some other commenters, am critical of peer to peer programs when I can get something straight from the developer. However, I like to use them when it is harder to find the direct source for something, and to see if others have even further improved an original file.

sapphire12
Post 11

I love free peer to peer things, and especially the new increase in artists who disagree with the entire concept of copy right. Nina Paley, an illustrator, is one example. She releases much of her work using a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. which means it is free to everyone, and anyone who uses it, watches it, or shares it must leave it entirely free. It's a really cool concept I think, and I love the idea of an artist championing sharing, rather than rights- because my guess is plenty of people would pay for her work if she asked them to.

wander
Post 10

With the Internet being as accessible as it is, and with bandwidth getting cheaper and cheaper it is no wonder that peer to peer programs are so popular. I think that the issue of illegal downloading is an interesting one, as I think it is impossible to stop it altogether despite what corporations would like to have happen. Much of the Internet is based on freedom of information and it seems unnatural to pull massive profits off of data.

I think if corporations want to make a dent in peer to peer program popularity they need to compete with cheap high quality files. The files they offer need to be priced at a point that it would change the minds of the casual downloader and those on budgets.

letshearit
Post 9

Peer to peer programs come and go pretty quickly when you consider the legalities surrounding them. Often one will be shut down and another will pop up shortly after its predecessors demise.

For myself I like to change peer to peer programs on a regular basis because I find after being around a while the file quality actually seems to decrease. It seems the more people start using a peer to peer program the more chance there is of viruses and broken files springing up. While peer to peer programs are amazing for getting whatever file you need they are not without risks.

Viktor13
Post 8

There are certainly all kids of legitimate uses of peer-to-peer software.

An example is the game Darkfall Online. The files to get set up with this game are almost 10GB. That's a big download. The game was released by a small company and mostly distributed by downloading. Tens of thousands of people wanted the game at the same time when it was released.

To offer a conventional download server, they would have had to buy or lease a massive server farm and an incredible amount of bandwidth. Instead, they offered it as as torrent. Literally, the more people who downloaded it the faster the distribution got, because they started seeding the torrent.

Other games are released that way too. It's a great thing for small companies with large amounts of digital content to distribute.

horsebite
Post 7

@SZapper - I agree and disagree with you.

Certainly, the majority of torrent downloads must be illegally shared files. There are just millions of them out there. Be that as it may, the software itself is not at fault, it is the tracker sites and the people who upload to them.

That may be splitting hairs, but it does get into an important concept. Do we penalize someone before they do something wrong? Do we restrict the exchange of information because other people break the law with the same type of technology?

The Internet is used for all kinds of horrible things every day. Child pornography, identity theft, virus and spyware distribution, hacking. But billions of people also use it for mundane and beneficial purposes. I think you have to take the bad with the good.

Veruca10
Post 6

@JessicaLynn - The cloud vs. local argument goes back and forth every few years. Cloud storage is much more viable now because internet access is so much faster than it used to be. That said, there is still a big problem with that kind of system. If you lose connectivity, you lose the use of your stuff. That can be really annoying.

At least with a torrent, you download the software and it's yours to use. Lose connectivity and you can still do what you need to do, as long as it it not internet based.

JessicaLynn
Post 5

@SZapper - I see what you're saying. I personally think all of the legitimate uses of freeware can be replaced by cloud based storage systems. Store the files, then give access to people who you want to see them. Obviously I'm not referring to illegally sharing music files, but to more legitimate reasons for file sharing.

SZapper
Post 4

@chivebasil - I really don't see any reason to support peer to peer programs. Everyone knows the majority of their usage comes from people who are illegally sharing files.

As far as the argument that people share freeware over P2P, that is, well, basically ridiculous. Most freeware programs are easily available as a download from a website made by the developers of the program. Saying P2P is necessary to distribute freeware is just an excuse to perpetuate this disgraceful illegal sharing of files.

chivebasil
Post 3

P2P technology has been really contentious over its history and has led to some of the most heated and fundamental debates about the form and function of the internet. But the principle behind P2P is the basis of the internet, connecting users in disparate parts of the world and allowing them to share files remotely. This was what the internet was in it earliest forms. This is essentially what e-mail is.

It is important to remember this because the concept of P2P remains under attack. The internet is becomingly increasingly restricted and corporatized. It used to be a wild west open to anyone and now most of it is filtered through the portals of giant corporate websites like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo. P2p allows you to forgo this corporate mediation and to use the internet for your own purposes. It is a form of freedom. So regardless of how you feel about illegally downloading music, you should support P2p because this is what makes the internet a fun and revolutionary place, not farmville.

nextcorrea
Post 2

My favorite of the P2P programs is called Soulseek. I have been using it for almost 7 years now and I have never considered using another product. The interface is simple, the user base is huge and the content available is richer and deeper than any other network I've tried.

Soulseek is a free download and it has a really strong community supporting it. It also has some great features. One of these allows you to create a list of titles you are really interested in. The program will automatically search for these any time you are logged in. This means that if you don't find something once the computer will remember to search for it again. This is really helpful for finding obscure stuff. Soulseek is the best, hit it up!

backdraft
Post 1

I have been using bit torrents for years now with a lot of success.

The article is right that there is a learning curve at first. I came to the service after using Napster, Limewire and other easy interface file sharing programs for a while. Initially, bit torrent seemed hopelessly complicated and my first few downloads failed.

But then a friend showed me the ropes and I got the hang of it immediately. It really is easy once you get past the first hurdle. Bit Torrents take some patience because the things you are looking for can sometimes be hidden. But with a little perseverance you will hunt them down. There is nothing that I have wanted that I have not been able to find a torrent for. Give it a shot and open up a whole new world of content for yourself.

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