P2P sharing now
October 26, 2011 3:46 PM   Subscribe

What’s the new P2P fad?

In the old days, it was Napster, then Limewire, then Frostwire…what seems to be the most popular P2P sharing network these days?
posted by Amalie-Suzette to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
posted by no bueno at 3:48 PM on October 26, 2011

invite only torrent trackers. darknets.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:49 PM on October 26, 2011

Last I knew, it was private torrent sites. I'm not as into P2P as I used to be, though.
posted by box at 3:49 PM on October 26, 2011

The majority of such places have been absorbed by private torrent trackers, in my experience. These will vary depending on the types of media you wish to consume. On a more quotidian level, a lot of the traffic has gone to file sharing sites like Mediafire, Hotfile, Rapidshare, etc.
posted by mykescipark at 3:49 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

According to the first teenager I asked, kids these days are sharing their music on Dropbox.
posted by Lorin at 4:01 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

But mostly within their extended social networks and not exactly the scale of Napster et al.
posted by Lorin at 4:04 PM on October 26, 2011

With so many blogs offloading file hosting onto file sharing sites, there is an astounding amount of media available that way, and there are a growing number of sites dedicated only to searching those sites.

And while there are a lot of public trackers, private trackers link a lot more diverse material, often with specialized sites for certain media or formats.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:13 PM on October 26, 2011

There are a lot of popular grey-area music services that are built on a P2P sharing model: Grooveshark, Spotify, etc.

Also, I find YouTube still offers tons of unlicensed music despite attempts at auto-detection and muting, though it's more for casual listening since downloading is such a hassle.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:23 PM on October 26, 2011

The mainstream is public torrent sites. Bit torrent is a service where basically a file is broken down into hundreds or thousands of pieces and those pieces are shared and copied between a "swarm" of computers until everyone has a complete copy of their own. It has legitimate uses as it makes it easy to distribute any file without a dedicated host. People in the middle use Demonoid, which is a very large "private" torrent site that gives out invites so often and has such lax standards for memberships that many people consider it open anyway. Because of the way bit torrent works, unless you use a VPN or remotely hosted seedbox (essentially a server dedicated to downloading your torrents, which costs a monthly fee), everyone else downloading the file knows your IP, which could be used to get your ISP to send you a cease and desist, or maybe even get you in legal trouble (I haven't really been reading up on the law for this). People who pirate a large volume of media don't like that.

Otherwise, sites like what.cd, etc are pretty well-liked. Membership often requires an invite, maybe an interview, and stringent maintenance of a ratio (uploading as much as you download, essentially). Because the users are more vetted, the torrents are faster due to good seeding, and it's less likely your IP will be seen by the authorities, in theory, since they would need to get invites, establish accounts with good behavior, etc. And trackers often have a focus, such as music, anime, HD movies ripped properly, etc.

For either type of torrent, you would use a Bit Torrent client. Bit torrent is an open source protocol, so there are many non-scuzzy open source and otherwise free options out there. One is uTorrent (Windows, Mac, free as in beer), and last I checked, it was the most popular option.

Usenet is still around. Most ISPs don't bundle it for free anymore, and those that do don't let you download binaries, but there are many hosts out there for Usenet. It's more anonymous than bit torrent if you use SSL to connect, IIRC (which is also why a lot of shady stuff aside from copyright material shows up there). And I also have heard they tend to get stuff first, although not by that big a lead on torrents. You can download data quite quickly, without the slow period many torrents have before you've established that you're a peer willing to share. SabNzbd+ is the client I've heard most strongly recommended (runs on everything as it is made of Python scripts that are controlled from the browser) for downloading binaries from Usenet. What's neat is that SabNzbd+ works with other scripts/plugins as well for a lot of neat features, like a program called SickBeard that automatically downloads new and unseen episodes of a series as they are available like Tivo, and once something is posted to usenet, it's available for as many days as your host is willing to hold it (usually 30 days to 2 years, depending on the host), unlike bit torrent where at least one person needs to seed for a file to be available. You can get an account for about $10-30 a month, depending on where you get it, how much bandwidth it has, etc. Lifehacker breaks down the details here.

And of course, a lot of media is on file sharing sites like Rapidshare, Megaupload, Mediafire, etc. It's gotten to the point that there's a program called JDownloader that manages your downloads, stagering parts between hosts, counting down until the next part is available, faking catchpas to start downloads, and even running scripts to reboot your modem/router so that you get a new IP so that you can download the next part of the file sooner.

tl;dr: I expect the most common is probably free filesharing sites and dropbox for sharing files between peers. After that, bit torrent public torrents, and more exclusively, private ones. With the most hardcore people using Usenet for the anonymity, or a bit torrent seedbox.

In terms of trends, I'd say we've definitely moved from centralized services like Napster to decentralized services that are very hard to kill. There is really no single entity you can sue to stop bit torrent. The best ISPs can do is try to throttle bit torrent traffic. Of course, bit torrent is overkill for smaller files, like single mp3s, so we also have the filesharing sites.

And Rhaomi has a good point in that a lot of legitimate services now have copyright material up for illegitimate streaming under safe harbor until copyright holders find it and file a complaint.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:36 PM on October 26, 2011 [16 favorites]

I was an avid P2P user and torrenter, but now unless I really, truly can't find the artist, I'm using free/super cheap services like Turntable.fm, Rdio, Spotify, HypeMachine, SoundCloud, Last.fm, GrooveShark, Slacker, Pandora, etc.

Turntable.fm and its spinoffs are effectively platforms from which people can play their favorite music or their own jams in front of hundreds of people at once. You can then store that track in your own queue to play later.

Rdio and Spotify are content providers. Rdio is still getting over some initial bumps after launching more recently, but I think it is the one to watch over Spotify, which has been making some Netflix-level stupid business decisions lately (Spotify forces users to login through Facebook, which then limits your friends to those that you are also friends with on Facebook). Rdio also does a fantastic job of creating on-the-fly playlists based off of music it knows I've already listened to. Spotify also has the worst ads ever. It will inject sometimes a full song of an entirely different genre than what you were listening to (Eminem and will.i.am kept showing up in the middle of my Chillout mix -- super annoying). I paid for Spotify for three months but in the end, not worth it.

HypeMachine is a music blog aggregator that I haven't even had to feed any blogs into. I simply go through what other listeners are favoriting and add songs to my playlist from there. What I have found, however, is that if the original blog deletes the file, you end up without a song at all or just a short clip of what it once was.

SoundCloud is fantastic for finding bedroom musicians and random experimental tracks from bigger artists, etc.

Last.fm has been around forever. It has been tracking every song I've listened to through iTunes, Rdio, Spotify, HypeMachine and SoundCloud for the past 5 or 6 years. It also has a free radio that bit some shit last year when they stopped allowing you to play your Favorites playlist, but the Recommended is worth checking out if you have enough data in there for it to parse.

GrooveShark I haven't really used but my understanding is that it is much like Spotify and Rdio and a lot of people really really enjoy it.

Slacker and Pandora are radio stations. Personally I think Slacker Radio has the best internet DJs I've ever been able to tune into across multiple genres. Definitely a great site to go to when you want to find some new tracks or just zone out for a few hours.
posted by june made him a gemini at 4:39 PM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah, college networks often have darknets like DC++ running, which are used both because they're faster and also because campus internet is often slow, locked down, and tightly monitored.

But campuses also try to shut down the darknets, since they don't want to be held accountable for hosting a filesharing network loaded with copyright material.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:03 PM on October 26, 2011

If you're interested in anime and other stuff from Japan, the best tracker now is NyaaTorrents.

Tokyo Toshokan is an announcement aggregator that isn't itself a tracker.

BakaBT is a collective effort to try to keep old series available. It currently has about 10,000 seeded torrents, and a membership of maybe 200,000 people who seed some or all of the time.

The best current torrent program for Windows is µTorrent. There are also versions of it for Linux and Mac but I'm not sure if there are better choices for those platforms.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:59 PM on October 26, 2011


There are a number of reasons, but the biggest two are:
  • You're not sharing. Thus you're not publishing, thus, legally, you aren't breaking any laws
  • Most modern Usenet servers allow you to download over HTTPS. That makes it indistinguishable from any other internet traffic, so your ISP can't throttle you like they can (and will) with torrents
The biggest drawback is that it's not 100% free (a quality feed will run you ~$10 a month). Peanuts compared to netflix.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:07 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Spotify is technically P2P.
posted by empath at 5:27 AM on October 27, 2011

As mykescipark says, direct downloads are now the user-friendliest avenue for filesharing. FilesTube has managed to index a great many of these links. I suppose this isn't technically P2P, but it is, like usenet, a much more efficient form of filesharing.
posted by unmake at 10:03 AM on October 27, 2011

empath: Spotify is technically P2P.

I had no idea that is true. Weird.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:13 PM on October 28, 2011

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