File Sharing Site Reviews
P2P File Sharing (Peer-to-Peer) is a computing and social model that was first popularised in the late 1990’s by controversial music-sharing service, Napster (now gone straight as as a mainstream subscription-based service). P2P has a simple philosophy, helping users to benefit from the contents of each others’ harddrives and their bandwidth by both supplying and consuming digital resources. Put more simply, instead of downloading a file directly from a central source (such as a server for a service like iTunes, for example), users connect to each other through a P2P system and share digital resources between themselves, without the need for any substantial amount of central coordination. While the P2P File Sharing model was undoubtedly revolutionary at the time of its inception, it has developed a somewhat chequered reputation and has been subject to a number of legal challenges around the world, meaning its popularity has waned a little in recent years.
There are a number of advantages of using peer-to-peer file sharing networks and websites, not least the fact that such file-sharing offers a level of flexibility, choice and value that is rarely available at other services. Users of such networks can often find files across a great variety of genres, with the network automatically expanding and contracting in certain areas to take account of changing tastes. In this sense, popular files and content will be readily available for users to download (as many users share this content) while less popular content will gradually shrink and disappear, as fewer members share these files. Finally, these networks are easily set up and operate on low overall running costs (brought about particularly by the fact that the network expands in size at roughly the same rate as the level of demand), meaning the cost to users is often extremely small.
That said, Peer-to-Peer services also have a number of inherent issues and problems that had contributed to their growing unpopularity in many circles. Firstly, these networks have gradually become a hotbed for the illegal sharing of copyrighted material such as movies, music and games, and as a result have come under fire from governments and pressure groups to stamp out the movement of such content. The difficulty in doing so (as the content of the service is essentially governed by users) means that a number of industrial challenges, from bodies such as the RIAA and MPAA, have resulted in legal action against some users. In addition, these services operate with additional security risks to individual users, with viruses and other ‘nasties’ being commonly exchanged both willingly and unwillingly disguised as various other file formats. While services have begun taking considerable steps towards reducing the amount of illegal sharing that takes place within them, users should remain wary when downloading and sharing files through such communities.
Although Peer-to-Peer file sharing websites and services are, strictly speaking, legal, the number of problems that users have encountered during their use, coupled with their general facilitation of the illegal transferral of copyrighted material means that in many cases, their use cannot be recommended. While it is undoubted that the peer-to-per models popularized by such services as Napster, Kazaa and Limewire helped to open up the internet for artists and musicians and contributed to the development of legitimate content download services such as iTunes and Rhapsody, these services retain a number of inherent disadvantages and problems (already discussed here), which means users may be well-advised to use other services in order to download digital media. The moral here has to be – if in doubt, seek out a legitimate alternative, there’s certainly plenty of choice out there!