BitTorrent has pretty much solidified itself as the undisputed king of P2P — like it or not, the reality is there’s not much to debate about. But what about those other P2P filesharing protocols? Have they become forgotten pioneers of a bygone era, cast aside by a next-gen world of crazed torrenters? Or are they equally thriving in their own right, albeit somewhat displaced? We’ll try to answer that by digging around in some of the alternative P2P methods to see what’s hot, and what’s not.
While using any tracker (as-is) is not considered a ’safe’ method of P2P filesharing; incredibly, public sites are increasingly popular. Even the most devout private tracker user will probably stray to a public site from time to time to search for a hard-to-find file (as public trackers offer much more variety than even the best private tracker). Perhaps you have 10, even 20 different private accounts - combined they still can’t compete with the sheer content found on just one public indexing website. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, public trackers are here to stay - until an entirely new P2P protocol is created that fills in the obvious security holes, lousy seed-to-peer ratios, and other inherent flaws pertinent to BitTorrent.**What’s Hot:**
Torrent metasearch sites and aggregators, especially Web 2.0 versions. More than ever, torrent aggregators seem to be winning over public users who want a greater selection & real-time comparison of similar torrents.
Decentralized Trackers: The prospect of a fully-decentralized public tracker is not too far off in the distant future. The Pirate Bay is one such site that has split itself up over many continents in order to avoid closure in a (single) country where it’s hosted.**What’s Not:**
Large public indexing sites. They continue to steadily lose ground to superior private trackers, as more torrenters become increasingly knowledgeable and security-conscious. Mininova was once in the “Alexa Top 50” - now it resides at 81 (a 28% drop in traffic from 3 months ago). Same goes for ThePirateBay, who was once in the Top 100 - they’ve seen a 27% decrease in visits. Another slider is Isohunt - down 50 points from 3 months ago (a 31% decrease).
Private trackers have been red-hot for years now; and amazingly their unabated growth seems almost exponential year-after-year. Users have more choices than ever before for diversity and content, and private BT communities contain the tightest group of members of all the P2P protocols. Camaraderie is high; competition is fierce.**What’s Hot:**
Niche trackers that offer specific torrents; ‘Community’ trackers that are less concerned about the torrents (and more about the members & forums); Gazelle codebase trackers; so-called ’secret’ cliquey trackers (with names that don’t coincide with the URLs).**What’s Not:**
Ubiquitous ‘General’ trackers with so-so pretimes and a hodgepodge of releases - what the filesharing world does not need is yet another run-of-the-mill all-purpose tracker. The market is already oversaturated with these.
P2L (Pay To Leech) trackers are also cold as ice - no one wants to be hounded for donations, “or else we’ll have to close down” being a common threat. Likewise, 0day sites that offer upload GBs for a monetary contribution are being similarly criticized, especially when there’s not a single freeleech torrent to be found.
Gnutella Network (Limewire)
P2P programs that connect to a decentralized network such as Gnutella (or multiple networks) were once king of the P2P world. While there’s still an expansive group of users on Limewire, their numbers are steadily dwindling. The ugly reality that users are easy targets for lawsuits by the RIAA because of the “shared folder” conundrum has shied many users away, especially in the U.S. Toss in the fact that Gnutella’s flagship program is currently doomed by a can’t-win litigation case vs. Arista (a record label under the RIAA’s umbrella), this undoubtedly spells disaster for Limewire as we know it.**What’s Hot:**
Not much. Because of the decentralized structure and haplessly uncontrolled uploading/sharing, it’s impossible to keep out ‘fake’ files that plague the network. Music still seems to be a safe bet; although even this can be hit & miss - true audiophiles want bitrates higher than 128. After the dust settles in the Limewire saga, look for a new or existing clone (FrostWire) to gain immense popularity.**What’s Not:**
While anti-piracy agencies can’t take down a decentralized network - as long as there’s even one user on it, then it’s still viable - so the second best thing they can do is flood it with fake/bad files until everyone becomes so totally discouraged to not use it anymore. Most of us can recall KaZaA and FastTrack - so terribly disfigured with junk that finding even one good version of a song proved a daunting task. Due to its own uncontrolled nature, a decentralized architecture becomes its own undoing. For this Shareaza, BearShare Lite & Limewire (including the many clones) are all losing market share to other protocols.
Direct Connect (DC)
Probably one of the least known protocols, DC’s origins stem back to 1999. Users connect to centralized servers, or hubs, and more often than not you’ll need to share between 1 to 10 GBs before being allowed to join most of the popular hubs. The premiere client DC++ has been downloaded over 52 million times since November 2001, proving Direct Connect is here to stay.**What’s Hot:**
Private hubs. Closed “University network only” DC hubs such as Dtella are hardly a new concept, yet seem to be popping up even in the smallest of schools. With the increased blocking of most P2P traffic/protocols that connect outside of the University’s ISP and out-of-network bandwidth restrictions, DC circumvents this by keeping everything self-contained within the walls of the school’s ISP - and everyone else out. This effectively marginalizes the risk for anti-piracy agencies to hit students with DMCA notices and the like. Not only that, but intranet bandwidth is much cheaper than external P2P traffic - University ISPs need not turn a blind eye to DC, but actually allow and embrace it.
Most public hubs that are hosted inside the U.S.
eD2k / eMule
Today, the eD2k network is less than half the size it was back in its peak just a short few years ago. The likely culprit for the decline is BitTorrent which has absorbed many of its users who are looking for quicker downloads. Truth be told, BitTorrent doesn’t have the vastness of files that eD2k has (it’s not even close); this continues to solidify eD2k as a viable P2P alternative for older and hard-to-find files that are unavailable elsewhere.**What’s Hot:**
“eD2k Links” communities. Like BT, eD2k employs a hash system to verify valid files, thus many users have moved away from in-program (eD2k client) searching, and tend to lean towards a community-based approach. In these communities, members post viable working eD2k links (for direct downloading into a client such as eMule). This effectively cuts out the risk of bad downloads, and users don’t have to sift through scores of similar search results in order to find a ‘good’ file. Private communities that are hot: Luelinks (still), Psyreactor.com (trance), ShareTheFiles, FileHeaven, and others.
Slow download speed and queueing system is eD2k’s Achilles heel. Direct eMule searching yields viruses in the results (especially when searching for software, zipped & rarred archives) - most of which can be modestly bypassed by using eD2K links from reputable sources.
Usenet / Newsgroups
While Usenet has taken a backseat to BitTorrent in recent times, binary newsgroups are still popular. With the somewhat-recent introduction of NZB files that index a complete set of RAR/PAR files for a release, users need not bother with a ‘newsreader’ style program for browsing the groups anymore. As bandwidth increases as does hard drive sizes, server retention continues to grow, making Usenet a great choice among filesharers (leechers) who want the fastest download speeds.**What’s Hot:**
“NZB” sites & communities. Private sites continue to excel (such as newzbin.com) and are similar to private trackers in that they’re “invite only”, and NZBs are hand-done and manually added to the site. Other ‘free’ public sites that require registration (or not) are also on the incline, such as nzbsrus and nzbmatrix — here’s even more.**What’s Not:**
Newsreaders with no NZB support are dead. Free ISP Usenet access is almost useless in most cases. The downside? You’ll likely have to pay for a good provider, as most ISP’s retention is low, and often missing crucial files required to complete a ’set’.
Along with Usenet, IRC is one of the oldest filesharing protocols that’s still in existence today. While the filesharing aspect to IRC is losing ground to superior P2P protocols, it’s still the best medium for chatting. Most BitTorrent trackers have their own IRC channel to coincide with the site, to announce info and new torrents. IRC still plays a very important role in “the scene” even if it’s not used as commonly as it once was for general filesharing.**What’s Hot:**
“XDCC” is still formidable despite the queueing system, longish wait times and relatively slow download speeds. These 1-to-1 connections are less favoured when compared to instant Usenet and BitTorrent downloading.**What’s Not:**
FServes are dead. DL speeds are usually very sluggish; direct peer and file searching near impossible; browsing is erratic at best.
DDL / Rapidshare Sites
The DDL filesharing method is quite possibly the easiest way to obtain copyrighted material on the Internet. There’s no software to install, no programs to configure, no ISPs getting wise to your P2P traffic. 1-click hosters are more popular than ever, and new ones pop up constantly.**What’s Hot:**
Watch for private community-oriented Rapidshare (DDL) sites to make huge gains. As long as illegal material can still be uploaded to 1-click hosters, the P2P scene will continually use them as a medium for filesharing. Technology is forever evolving to allow for higher bandwidth and larger harddrive space, which in turn spells even more success (and competition) - something that can only benefit P2P filesharing, larger files and faster download speeds for all.**What’s Not:**
With the increasing pressure on 1-click hosters to remove copyrighted material, “Rapidshare Search” sites are beginning to wane. Files now need to be covertly named in order to disguise the infringing material - something that doesn’t bode well for search engines.
a very nice post. i thought XDCC had died a good few years ago though, most of the channels i used to frequent went to rapidshare blogs and stuff, although #gabbermp3 on rizon is still running strong.
Very good post.. I really needed this to know what I can deserve a decent down speed. I think demonoid really makes my life easier as a private tracker, its better than other ways to download as its free and good.
Chris Hanlon Says:
Hmm, Seems interesting, but who uses limewire lol =P
Black Fox Says:
On the P2P side of things, anyone else use Soulseek? AMAZING. Although, DC sounds pretty good…more privacy.
i pop pills Says:
I still use soulseek. It’s useful in getting the newest scene releases, in addition to rare files.
FServes.. Damn that kakes me back
Bob Bob Says:
I use Emule frequently and although slow, you can’t beat it for finding files. I wish there were more ed2k search sites, because the network is fantastic.
Emule is highly recommended.
Steve Allan Says:
P2P stands for “Peer to Peer” networking and is a popular technology for file sharing. I have used Rapidshare and FastestP2P for downloading and it is handy.