Top 10 Free P2P File Sharing Software Programs

Millions of people use free P2P file sharing software to swap music, video and other files over the Internet. Many P2P file sharing programs exist. Some P2P software programs offer a larger user base that often means greater numbers of files to choose from. Some software better utilizes network resources and may be easier to use. Finally, some P2P file sharing programs are increasing in popularity while others are declining. Consider all of these factors when deciding which P2P network to join.

1) eDonkey / Overnet
eDonkey/Overnet is a state-of-the-art file sharing software system. Especially popular in Europe, the two P2P networks eDonkey and Overnet combined support a large base of users and files. The eDonkey P2P client connects to both networks and the Overnet client is being merged into future releases of eDonkey. eDonkey runs on Windows, Linux and Macintosh computers. The free version of eDonkey contains embedded advertising but none of the dreaded "spyware" found in some free file sharing software.

2) Shareaza
Shareaza is an up-and-coming P2P client. It offers an extremely powerful search engine capable of connecting to multiple popular P2P networks including eDonkey, BitTorrent and Gnutella. Shareaza file sharing software includes intelligence for detecting fake and/or corrupted files. The free Shareaza download also contains no ads or spyware. As the installed base of Shareaza client users grows, expect Shareaza to become an even better file sharing system.

3) WinMX
WinMX offers a large P2P file sharing network and a feature-rich client program that has evolved over years of development. True, WinMX has a reputation for being complex and more difficult to use than some alternatives. However, WinMX also provides a lot of power to users in managing their downloads, and it offers a wide selection of music (MP3) files. Some WinMX users report waiting in long queues to download popular files. WinMX software runs only on the Windows family of operating systems.

4) BitTorrent
BitTorrent is another free P2P software application. It has attracted a loyal following among those interested in sharing movies and television programs. The offical BitTorrent P2P client generally does not support bandwidth throttling, meaning that it will tend to monopolize a network connection and not allow surfing the Internet or otherwise utilizing the network while files are being downloaded or uploaded. A freely-available alternative BitTorrent client overcomes this limitation.

5) Limewire
The Limewire file sharing client connects to the Gnutella P2P network. Limewire software is widely recognized for its clean user interface that does not contain adware. Sometimes billed as the "fastest file sharing program," Limewire claims to offer relatively good search and download performance. Free Limewire software downloads are available for Windows, Linux and Macintosh operating systems. Limewire Pro pay clients also exist.

6) Morpheus
Morpheus P2P client application downloads exist in both free and paid Ultra versions. Compared to the free version, the Morpheus Ultra download additionally removes bundled advertising. Morpheus clients are capable of searching Gnutella2, FastTrack, eDonkey2K and Overnet P2P networks.

7) eMule
The eMule project started with the goal of building an improved free eDonkey client. eMule has achieved a large user base, connecting both to the eDonkey P2P network and a few others. It contains no advertising, and its software base is well-maintained by an open source development team. The chief limitation of eMule file sharing is its speed: eMule typically performs downloading much slower than other P2P clients.

8) Ares
Ares is a full-featured free P2P network with its own file sharing programs including Ares Galaxy. Ares clients support decentralized music and other file sharing and include a built-in chat service. Ares strives to offer the simplicity of Kazaa clients with no adware and fast connection times.

9) BearShare
The BearShare P2P file sharing program is a popular free client for the Gnutella P2P network. Both free and pay downloads of BearShare file sharing software exist.

10) Kazaa
The Kazaa software family (including the Kazaa Lite family of applications) has been the single-most popular P2P file sharing program / system of all time. Kazaa is fast and easy to use. However Kazaa and the FastTrack network it utilizes appear to be declining rapidly in popularity and availability of files. Some have criticized the intrusiveness of "adware" embedded in free Kazaa clients. Others have complained about the frequency of encountering fake files on FastTrack.