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Top WinMX Alternatives
September 22, 2005
Thomas Mennecke
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The last estimate of WinMX's network poulation when it was based on version 2.6 was over 1.5 million simultaneous users. That number was representative of its glory days. Over time, this number would diminish as its population found alternative means to find various files.

The most popular type of media file transmitted over the WinMX network was music. Unlike many networks of its day, WinMX had a large resource of high bitrate MP3s. Despite the nearly two years that would pass with no appreciable upgrades or updates to the client, WinMX was still embraced by a sizeable population. This population would continue to traverse WinMX until its untimely and surprising demise.

Although no statistic exists that can, or could, accurately portray WinMX’s population, the amount of media attention and forum replies clearly indicate this client was still very popular. With such a large population displacement, where are these users to go? Once again, Slyck continues our “Top Alternatives” series. The following alternatives are presented and provided for the common P2P user who's priority is music. Please read each of the descriptions and find which method is best for you.

LimeWire – A Gnutella client that makes file-sharing simple. A great entry-level P2P application which is used by new comers and veterans alike. Just install, search, and start downloading. Like WinMX, LimeWire has plenty of higher and variable bitrate MP3 files available – although to a lesser extent. With a population of over 2 million simultaneous users, one should find this client provides a wide majority of requested files.

Ares – This P2P client is excellent in obtaining music. This program is being constantly upgraded on a near weekly basis. Once the program is updated, older versions will not be able to connect to the network. In addition, this client has recently gone open source, which should help ensure its survival.

Shareaza - There’s little doubt that Shareaza has a relatively small but strong following of loyal users. Utilizing the Gnutella2 network protocol, Shareaza is capable of sharing and delivering MP3s. Shareaza is also capable of sharing with the Gnutella, eDonkey2000 and BitTorrent networks. Although as a Gnutella2 client it is not as resourceful as WinMX, there is hope for this network considering its open source nature and seemingly dedicated group of developers and users.

KCeasy - KCeasy is a Windows front client for giFT. giFT is a modular daemon that accepts various network plug-ins. For those unfamiliar with what a modular daemon is, simplistically it is a program that runs in the background and performs certain tasks (in this case, connects to various P2P networks.) KCeasy acts as the graphical interface. With KCeasy, you can connect to multiple P2P networks, or just one such as the highly resourceful OpenFT network.

eDonkey2000 - Much like BitTorrent and the Newsgroups, the eDonkey2000 network is best traversed using indexing sites. However, unlike BitTorrent and the Newsgroups, eDonkey2000 is a searchable network. While eDonkey2000 is more geared towards the distribution of large files, plenty of music is traded – especially massive quantities of harder to find files. The client of choice is eMule and its variants, however some still swear by MetaMachine’s eDonkey.

Piolet – Was once a top P2P client, however it has not been updated in over a year. Still, it is able to perform adequately well and can still deliver the goods.

SoulSeek – What's so great about SoulSeek? Most of the music traded on this network is off the RIAA radar. Generally speaking, underground, trance, house, dance, and techno is traded on this network. If you are into this type of music, you’ll be in heaven on SoulSeek. Much like WinMX, SoulSeek is filled with rare music.

BitTorrent – Here’s where traditional P2P separates to more advanced networking architectures. BitTorrent is a tremendously resourceful protocol capable of delivering a wide array of files. However, unlike WinMX, the network does not utilize nor supports a search function. Rather, files are indexed by trackers which catalog available files.

NewsGroups - Over the years, the Newsgroups have become much easier to use. While they have always been resourceful, they have become even more so. With easy to use clients such as Grabit and indexing site like making one’s journey through the Newsgroups considerably more simple, this medium offers a great array of information that some say exceeds BitTorrent. The only disadvantage is that one must pay a minimum of $15.00 a month for decent access to a news server.

DirectConnect – Considering many WinMX users shared many thousands, if not tens of thousands, of songs which easily ran over 10 gigabytes of information, some may feel right at home on this network. Although the official Neo-Modus DirectConnect version is no longer developed, numerous open source variants have filled the void. Be warned however – DirectConnect is not for the dial-up user or casual file-trader. Most hub operators require an individual to share many gigabytes of information prior to participation.

OpenNap - OpenNap is a large community of music fans dedicated to sharing music. This community is a derivitive of Napster. Napster's centralized server technology was reverse engineered while various clients also spung up. One of these clients was WinMX, which you can still utilize as an OpenNap client.

FileTopia - This long time companion of the P2P community boasts about 5,000 users who enjoy the encrypted nature of this network. Although small, expect this network to grow in size considering the demise of WinMX. In addition, while the client has not been updated recently, the developer "Enrique" tells that some interesting things are coming.

Morpheus - Once the leading contender for the P2P crown after Napster collapsed, Morpheus fell into relative obscurity. It was disowned from the FastTrack network and struggled to regain respect and credibility. Today, it resides on its own proprietary “NEOnet” network and the reviews are mixed. Nevertheless, it does have a following who claim this network is the ace of base – so decide for yourself if suits your needs.

While one or a combination of multiple applications may fill the digital void left by WinMX, it’s difficult to replace the communal nature of this network. WinMX provided one of the few enclaves that provided a feeling of community in an online world with ever growing commercialism.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: Software
P2P Clients :: WinMX

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