A magnet link is a unique link to a specific file, typically on a P2P file sharing network.
Magnet Links allow users to directly download files into a P2P file sharing application. Through the support of magnet links, users can follow links to find specific files quickly and accurately. In short, getting the file is as easy as following a link - the magnet points to a specific file and launches the P2P program, adding the file to the user’s download list.
Magnet Links are an extension of a greater group of URIs/URNs (not to be confused with ‘URL’) - whereas a URL will point to a specific website; a URI will point to the specific contents, or, location of a file. Read the technical jargon for Magnet Links on Wikipedia.
Magnet Links - What are they for?
The main reason for the conception of magnet links is for increased authenticity (and less redundancy) of files being shared via P2P programs. For example, if you conduct a search for something specific in a filesharing program (such as Limewire), you’ll notice “multiple sources” for some of the results. We don’t have to tell you that ‘multiple source’ files offer the best availability, in terms of transfer speeds and chances for a successful ‘working’ download. All of the sources use the same hash link (that points to the exact same file).
Types of Hash Links
Magnet links were developed for the purpose of standardizing the existing hash formats. There is no standard for hash links (URI-schemes) that has been universally accepted by all P2P networks/clients (at least, not for downloading) thus it would be virtually impossible for a network to offer support for each one, let alone a P2P program. The magnet link solves this by acting as an umbrella for many types of hashes. Users therefore only require a P2P program that supports “magnet links” in order to employ the functionality and compatibility of most hash formats.
Here are some common formats of hash links:
- — SHA1 (and newer SHA variants)
- — MD4/MD5
- — TTH (Tiger Tree Hashes)
- — BitPrint (a combination of both SHA1 and TTH)
- — eD2k hashes
- — BTIH (BitTorrent hashes - specific to Azureus)
Magnet links will typically support multiple hashes (URIs/URNs) in the same “link”. The Magnet URI starts with “magnet:?” as its prefix. Here’s how a magnet link appears when “hovered” over, as displayed in the bottom of a browser:
When a file is created, a hash is generated that is specific to that exact file, and it alone (although there is a slight possibility that the same hash could point to two different files, but the odds are billions to one against it). If a file (in this case, a P2P release) is modified even in slightest way, the hash value for it changes completely.
Say, for example, the MPAA downloads a good known P2P movie release, and somehow modifies it so that it won’t play, or so that it’ll display an anti-piracy message. If they redistribute that file back into the P2P network, the hash value will now be totally unique, and the file will not appear in the “group” of good files for a particular release.
P2P Clients in support of Magnet Links
Magnet links are becoming the standard protocol for most “hash links” due to their versatility. Here are just some of the P2P programs that currently support them:
- — Shareaza v2.3.1 / ShareazaPlus 2.2.5
- — Limewire
- — BearShare 5.2.5
- — Phex v3.2
- — MLDonkey
- — DC++ (and other ‘Direct Connect’ projects)
- — Azureus (BitTorrent hashes only)
Magnet Links vs P2P ‘Client’ Searching
Since magnet links are designed to provide a viable link to an authentic file, P2P users are better served by searching for the magnet link of a particular file, as opposed to conducting queries from within the P2P client. This is exactly what makes the eDonkey network so popular - eD2k hash links.
If you have the proper magnet link, you can pretty much be assured that you’ll get the proper desired file (and not some decoy or spoof), without having to download it first. And since magnet links are so highly accurate in what they point to, websites that host them have come under fire from anti-piracy organizations. Their efforts towards spoofing or flooding of the P2P networks with bad or bogus files is utterly useless to anyone who uses good links.
Finding Quality ‘Magnet Link’ files
PeerWeb is a great solution to finding magnet links in a variety of categories. Supports G2 clients (Shareaza, BearShare) and a few Ares P2P magnets (arlnk:// files). PeerWeb requires user registration before the links can be accessed. We recommend browsing the PeerWeb Forums for even more links.
Our Notes: Most of the links pertain to the Gnutella 2 P2P network (G2) and are not compatible with Azureus (you’ll have to use a G2 client, such as Shareaza, as your default magnet handler). We also recommend that you connect to a good eDonkey network in Shareaza, in order to maximize connectivity. If you have no idea how to go about this, follow these easy steps:
1. To add an eD2k network into Shareaza, visit http://xtrememule.com/forum/ and click on one of the eD2k servers underneath the Servers heading (on the leftside of the site - see image below).
We suggest the top servers (Razorback 3.0 or 3.1) - click this link. Assuming Shareaza is your magnet handler, it should now launch this message, asking you to “launch the application”. Do so.
2. Shareaza should now open up. You’ll get a “Shareaza URI Manager” screen. Click “Connect”.
3. To verify that you are connected to it, click on the NETWORK icon, and look for a server listed as eDonkey, with the name “RazorBack 3.1″ as chosen. This may take a few seconds for Shareaza to list it, but you’ll be looking for something like this:
PeerWeb - Magnet Links in Shareaza
Download a magnet link (from PeerWeb) into Shareaza - be patient while it searches for sources. Click on the TRANSFERS icon; the desired file will begin updating the number of sources for the file. Click on the small PLUS SIGN (+) next to the title, and this will open up all of the available sources for the download. For most transfers, you’ll likely be placed in a queue, and have to wait for downloading to commence. We realize this is slow to begin, but once the file is there for a while, speeds will increase. The “Q 3 of 37″ is your position number out of 33 available slots for downloading for that connected peer. All sources update simultaneously (as do the queues).
Bitzearch is a Bitzi ’search engine’ for G2 magnet links (Shareaza, Limewire, BearShare), but it’s main reason is to convert Bitzi files into BearShare-compatible links. NOTE: Bitzearch does not currently work for eDonkey/eMule (eD2k links), nor is it compatible with Azureus BitTorrent “magnet links” - therefore a G2-compatible client is required. Why we like it: Unlike Bitzi, search results are arranged from “best rating” to worst, with one-click access to the magnet links. Why we don’t: No eD2k links are shown in the results.
Bitzi is a metadata search engine for magnet links (including eD2k links) from across the Internet. Currently, more than 2.7 million files are indexed. Since Bitzi is primarily a “community effort” with user-submitted file ratings, it’s an excellent resource for finding out if a specific file is authentic (or of good quality) - search results are ranked (i.e. “rated”) throughout the results. Files that are deemed “bad” are also shown in the results, and should thus be avoided.
Bitzi - Searching Explained
Launch Bitzi.com and enter a query in the search window (at the top right corner). For our example below, we searched for “No Country For Old Men”. Click the desired link (see our tips below) and you’ll (usually) have two choices for downloading - either the magnet link or the ed2k link.
NOTES/TIPS:Results are not necessarily arranged in the best order (or most recent), nor are the files listed as “Best Version” explicitly just that. As in the example above, the “best version” listed is NOT the one you want to be downloading. Since this is community submitted, often a file that is ‘older’ will have higher ratings, and in situations where you’re searching for the latest versions of a file, these ‘ratings’ will have a negative impact on the results. This is especially true when searching for the latest version of a movie - Bitzi will report ALL versions, including CAMs, DVDSCRs, etc. - when all you want is the most recent DVDRIP release. You should be looking for a version that has a proper release group associated with it. For this, use an NFO website such as NFOHump to validate a proper release, and then cross-reference with it on Bitzi.
Specific Searching: Using ‘Dupecheck‘ websites with Bitzi
It’s fairly simple to validate a proper scene release with files found on Bitzi. For our example, follow these steps:
1.Visit NFOHump and search for “No Country for old men”.
2.You’ll notice that the proper release associated with it is by the release group “Diamond” as shown below. Diamond is the preferred version, since it is a DVDRiP (the most recent release), not a DVD screener.
3.Go back to Bitzi.com, and either look for the ‘Diamond’ release among the search results, or (recommended) you can conduct the search with the word “diamond” in the keystring (i.e. “no country for old men diamond”). As shown below, these are the files that are pertinent to the proper scene release, and thus are the two files you’ll be wanting to download:
Bitzi - Advanced Searching
In addition to searching, Bitzi offers a vast community of user-submitted links. We highly endorse that you use this tip in addition to conventional searching. In Bitzi BitSocieties, users can browse other user’s submissions, categorized in specific groups or genres. Here are just a few interesting BitSocieties:
- — Movies - DivX, XviD, DVD movie files.
- — Lossless Audio - Full CD images in lossless audio formats.
- — Music Videos - Group dedicated to…well, you guess!
- — Bookshelf - eBook releases in various formats.
Bitzi users can also view individually submitted files from other users from within the BitSociety.
Troubleshooting - Magnet Links and Protocol Association
Q: I’m not sure if I have a magnet handler. When I click a magnet link, I get an error message in my browser. What gives?
A: The most probable case is that you don’t have a “magnet-compatible” client, or it isn’t set up correctly to handle magnet links. You can try re-installing Shareaza, Limewire etc. and if asked, choose it to be your magnet handler (this probably won’t happen until you run the program for the first time). However, this doesn’t always work (especially if you’ve uninstalled a P2P client that was the default handler). Here are the error messages you’ll likely encounter in your browser if no P2P programs are associated with magnet links:
** is looking for an external program that isn’t associated with magnet links, as evident of the Application: <Unknown> message. Wait a few seconds and try to click the “Launch application” button at the bottom. This may or may not launch a default P2P program that handles your magnet links. If not, you’ll be able to fix this here.
— For **Internet Explorer
**, the magnet link URI will cause an error message where you will NOT have the option of ‘launching an application’ to try to open the magnet link. (You’ll be able to “Search online for a program…” but this is useless). Keep reading…
The Windows Registry needs to associate a program with magnet links, and this fix will work with any browser. You can do this the long way, or the short way (both are the same thing).
** This quickfix makes Shareaza your default magnet handler. Download this file (magnet2.reg) and double-click it to import the settings into your registry. NOTE: This will only work if you’ve installed Shareaza to it’s default directory (C:\Program Files\Shareaza). If not, you’ll have to manually change the path in the magnet2.reg file.
** Create a new *.txt file on your hard drive, and open it with Notepad. Copy & paste the text below into it.
@=”\”C:\Program Files\shareaza\Shareaza.exe\” \”%1\””
Save it and close it. Now, rename it to magnet2.reg and double-click it. This will import (merge) the necessary registry settings to associate magnet files with Shareaza.
Q: I already had Limewire installed, but then I installed Shareaza (or another) and made it the default magnet handler. How do I switch it back to Limewire?
A: Different P2P magnet-compatible clients (i.e. Limewire and Shareaza - or any other) will want to be the default handler - usually this can be “chosen” during the installation of the P2P client (or on the initial-run).
Depending on your configuration (i.e. P2P software, build numbers, etc.) you may be able to just switch back and forth and make each one the default as needed. If you are unable to select it as ‘default’ when the correct application launches, you can still fix it:
P2P Magnet-handler conflicts:
Each P2P program that is capable of handling magnet links will attempt to be the default magnet handler. If you already have a client such as Shareaza installed, and then you install Limewire, you’ll likely be asked if you’d wish to make Limewire the default handler (but not always). Depending on the P2P program (and in which sequence they were installed), this can often lead to a ‘permanent’ or undoable decision within the Windows registry. If you’ve made a mistake by letting one program handle them (but you now wish for another to do it), again create a magnet2.reg file (or download the existing one and edit it by right-clicking) and change the parameter in the last line:
@=”\”C:\Program Files\shareaza\shareaza.exe\” \”%1\””
If you’d like Limewire to open magnet links, change the last line to:
@=”\”C:\Program Files\Limewire\Limewire.exe\” \”%1\””
Don’t forget to save it, and re-run ‘magnet2.reg’ to merge your new settings. Limewire will now be the new default handler.
NOTE: This assumes that Shareaza or Limewire were installed to the default directory (at C:\Program Files\Shareaza or \Limewire). Again, the parameter can be changed to fit any P2P program that supports magnets (such as Bearshare) - just change to the proper path (i.e. C:\Program Files\Bearshare\Bearshare.exe), pointing it to the proper name / location of the executable P2P program (Bearshare.exe).
NOTE: Uninstalling one of the P2P programs will not necessarily result in another one gaining the rights to being the new “default” magnet handler. This is certainly the case with RevConnect (a Direct Connect client) - after installation, it remains set as the default regardless of what P2P program you install afterwards. So a modification in the Windows registry is the only thing that fixes this. Additionally, there are other ways to alter these settings in the registry (if you’re feeling brave enough to do it yourself) but the above method is by far the simplest method of changing it.
nice work, dude
Thanks! That one was a pain in the butt!
Steve Allan Says:
It’s glad to post my comment on this blog. This information would be useful for the readers, to know how the magnetic links allow the user to download the files directly from P2P file sharing application.
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Always excellent to see people forming together to navigate more ways of easy energy. This planet needs more people like you, great post, look forward to reading more. gracias
rajendra pandey Says:
i would like to know if somebody explains me, does magnetic link downloading is faster or slower
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nice info…but still trying to understand…
Mark karse Says:
Hi everybody, very nice article and grate info.
Taxi To London Heathrow Airport Says:
Good insight . I am wondering why there is nothing about old school Direct Connect- is it dead now? or does it not use so called magnet links?
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