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eDonkey2000 Nearly Double the Size of FastTrack
June 2, 2005
Thomas Mennecke
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The dismal state of affairs in the FastTrack community continue to erode the population of this network. Not since July of 2002 has FastTrack seen its population below 2 million users. Specifically, it has managed to stay below 2 million users since the Memorial Day weekend. One may argue there was simply not as many users online, however rivals networks eDonkey2000 and Gnutella continue to surge ahead.

For the latter portion of 2004 and early 2005, FastTrack's waning population stabilized at approximately 2.45 million users. In fact for a while in early 2005, FastTrack's degradation appeared to have been arrested. In March of 2005, FastTrack's average population was 2.4 million users. In April of 2005, it surged to an average of 2.7 million users. However, this respite would prove temporary as its decline continued in May (average of 2.5 million users.)

There are three key reasons for the rapid decline of the FastTrack network. Many remember FastTrack during its glory days when Morpheus was the P2P application to use. While today having these two concepts in the same sentence is as foreign as the moons of Endor, the FastTrack network was nevertheless a powerful method for sharing copious amounts of information.

The first, and perhaps foremost reason FastTrack has seen its population dissipate is the inclusion of spyware and adware in the Kazaa Media Desktop and Grokster clients. As time as progressed, more netizens have become aware of these intrusions and the significant dangers they present to their identity and security. Grokster is particularly guilty of this third party menace, and its installation nearly cripples one's machine.

Kazaa Media Desktop installs marginally fewer instances of spyware and adware. However most former users note computer performance degrades once this application is installed.

Kazaa Media Destop and Grokster both force third party software during installation – there’s no way around it. Since using spyware/adware removal tools like Ad-Aware will disable these P2P applications, many FastTrack users have wised up and transitioned to spyware/adware-free networks.

Another key reason for FastTrack's slide it the RIAA's lawsuit campaign. In June of 2003, the RIAA began suing members of the FastTrack network, particularly those sharing approximately 1,000 or more top 40 songs. To this day, FastTrack remains the RIAA's main target, as an overwhelming majority facing litigation employed this network. The most logical solution for those wishing to share music and not become another RIAA statistic is to simply participate on different network.

Related to the second reason, many have left the FastTrack network because it has been exploited with false and corrupt files. The RIAA's agents are taking advantage of FastTrack's weak hashing system to flood the network with polluted media. The copyright industry has been able to take advantage of FastTrack because it uses UUHash to hash files. UUHash's advantage is that is can hash files very quickly, but its major drawback is that it only hashes a fraction of the file.

Since UUHash hashes a file at predetermined integers, whoever wishes to corrupt a network only has to make sure the proper integers are hashed according to correct standards, while the rest of the file can be polluted.

Very clever indeed.

So where has this left us?

Today, BitTorrent and eDonkey2000 have surpassed FastTrack as the most popular P2P networks. Although an exact figure is difficult to place on BitTorrent, it is generally perceived this community's population is between 2 and 3 million simultaneous users. eDonkey2000's more definitive population is now hovering in the high 3 million range, and judging from the growth rate in Slyck statistics, should stay above 4 million by either the end of June or early July.

Currently, eDonkey2000 is virtually doubled the size of FastTrack. As FastTrack continues to slip, this community will soon be well under 50% the size of eDonkey2000.

While eDonkey2000 has almost doubled in size of FastTrack, it appears Gnutella is about to overtake this decaying network. As of June 1, 2005, Gnutella's population was 1.81 million, compared to FastTrack's 1.98 million. Over the last few months, this gap has narrowed considerably. It is only a matter of time, perhaps weeks, before FastTrack is delegated as the forth-largest P2P network.

Judging from the population trends, it has become obvious that growing P2P networks share two common traits – an open source nature and the lack of spyware or adware.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
eDonkey2000 :: ed2k Community
FastTrack :: Other

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