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eDonkey/Overnet Rapidly Approaching FastTrack
May 13, 2004
Thomas Mennecke
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When P2P became popular under Napster, this community was the undisputed king of file-sharing. Its impressive array of mp3 files drew an enormous quantity of individuals to this network, totaling nearly 1.5 million at its peak. However, its glory would not last as the RIAA successfully forced the closure of this network. Permanent indexing servers that were affixed to Napster’s home in Silicon Valley were this community’s Achilles’ heal

Although P2P suffered a significant setback, file-sharing was far from dead. Advances such as decentralized networking made shutting down a community a thing of the past. Based on the decentralized concepts brought forth by Gnutella, FastTrack emerged as the next king of file-sharing. FastTrack, under the flags of Kazaa, Grokster and iMesh, are more of a hybrid network as it used decentralized supernodes to act as temporary indexing servers.

FastTrack was also powered under the flag of Morpheus during its early days. During this period, FastTrack was considered by many to be in its purist form. There was no spyware, no adware and no bit rate limits. In fact, its multi-source downloading feature, large userbase and decentralized nature made it in many ways better than Napster.

However, its sister client, Kazaa was quickly rising to prominence. Sharman Networks owned the rights to the FastTrack protocol and the Kazaa client. For reasons that to this day remain unclear, Sharman forced Morpheus off the network. From then on, Kazaa became the dominant FastTrack client.

Not only was it the dominant FastTrack client, it would grow to become the dominant file-sharing network. With over 5 million simultaneous users at its peak, it was almost 4 times larger than Napster ever was. However this mighty success has seen its best days as destiny and time have taken its toll. The ravages of third party software, false files, interest in alternative networks and the RIAA’s lawsuit campaign have led to a slow and painful decline.

While this decline is indicative of FastTrack, not all file-sharing networks are suffering a similar fate. In fact, the eDonkey2000/Overnet communities have enjoyed substantial growth during the last year. At the time of this writing, Kazaa was reporting 2.95 million users, a far cry from its glory days. iMesh, another FastTrack client, adds an additional 986 thousand to this number for a total of approximately 3.8 million.

The eDonkey/Overnet communities have also been putting up impressive numbers also as of late. eDonkey2000 reports 2.01 million users, with Overnet pulling in 802 thousand. Although the two networks are independent, users are able to upload and download from the respective clients. This gives users access to a total population of approximately 3 million users. It must also be noted that this quantity of users does not reflect the many private networks that populate this network. Although in fairness to FastTrack, for the purposes of this article we will only include the portion that is publicly accessible. We spoke with Paul Reinheimer, Technical Support & Community Development for MetaMachine about eDonkey2000/Overnet’s climb towards FastTrack.

“I really think the eDonkey & Overnet networks are approaching the same user base as FastTrack, though it may not appear that way since many of the users of eDonkey/Overnet are from overseas. This delusion of users is really what has stopped these programs from becoming a household name in the United States.”

In addition, Kazaa has entered its second week as the number 2 download on Download.com since it was replaced by AdAware. As FastTrack sits only 800,000 users ahead of the eDonkey2000/Overnet community, its days as the reigning king of file-sharing are certainly numbered. As the developers of eDoney2000/Overnet continue to refine and improve their network by introducing new technology, FastTrack has remained virtually unchanged since its inception. Unless Sharman pulls miracle instead of adding more third party software, its most likely by the end of 2004 the eDonkey2000/Overnet community will be the top file-sharing network.


This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
eDonkey2000 :: eDonkey
FastTrack :: Other
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: Statistics/Analysis

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