How To Use WinMX
When you first start WinMX, the setup wizard takes care of most variables. Once this is done, you are ready to traverse the powerful WinMX Peer Networking Protocol (WPNP). During the setup wizard, it will ask for your connection type, i.e. DSL, Cable, 56K, 14.4K, etc. This is important for several reasons, however its primary function will be to determine your role in the WinMX network:
WinMX is a decentralized community, however uses a centralized host cache server. A host cache, or gateway, holds IP addresses of individuals that have connected to the network. When you first fire up WinMX, it connects to this server. The client downloads a list of IP addresses that have recently connected to the network.
Ok, so why does your connection speed matter? At this point, the information will determine if you will make a primary or secondary connection to the network. Slow, dial up users are delegated to secondary connection status, while those on broadband and have enough processing power make primary connections. What's the difference?
Primary connections are the life-blood of the WinMX network. In the world of decentralization, supernodes (ultra-peers, super-peers, etc) act as temporary indexing servers. If you remember Napster, this network had centralized indexing servers. Thousands of people would connect to each server, uploading their shared directory. This directory would have a list of all the files an individual was sharing. Supernodes act in a similar manner, however they are outside the control of the network administrator, and can be located anywhere throughout the community.
The advantage of having temporary indexing servers is the sheer numbers that exist throughout the network. With Napster, only 50 or so were centrally located. This created scalability problems, not to mention legal woes. With decentralized supernodes, thousands of these temporary indexing servers exist, allowing the network to grow to great heights.
In addition, supernodes act as the "glue" of the network by maintaining communications between other supernodes, such as relaying search queries.
Secondary Connections are used by leechers, flamers, newbies and AOL lamers. Just kidding. Secondary connections are allocated to users who do not have the processing power or fast enough Internet connection available to maintain the network. A user that has a dialup connection and 133 MHZ processor cannot act as a temporary indexing server, as the lack of power could not maintain communications between supernodes. This doesn't mean a secondary user can't contribute to the network's health. The simple act of sharing files, even just allowing one upload slot, positively contributes to the network.
The 7 Main Sections of WinMX
WinMX has 7 main sections, each having a button on the main navigation bar. When you start WinMX you will begin in the Networks section, and so, we too will begin with the Networks section:
When you see the big green box, you are connected to the WinMX network (WPNP) and ready to begin! This screen has two sections and defaults to the WPNP network. WinMX can also connect to OpenNap servers which you can do by clicking the OpenNap Protocol Networks
button, more information can be found here
Shared Files Section
This section is very straight-forward. Simply click the Share Folder button to choose a folder to share. You can also choose to remove folders that are currently being shared. By default you must share the folder that you have set as the download folder.
This section works like a typical chat room. Once you click on the chat button you will see a new window and the chat channels will be listed. You can sort this list by clicking on the column headings. It is good to sort this list by the number of users in the channels. When you find a room that you might be interested in double-click it to enter. The other people in the room appear on the right side of the screen. This is where the chat section becomes interesting. You can use the channels to set up trades with people or just browse what people are sharing. Once again the list of people in the room is sortable and it is beneficial to sort the list by the number of files each person has. To browse what files a user is sharing, right-click the users name and choose Browse. This is a good way to browse for a particular genre that you may be interested in rather than searching for a particular file.
WinMX displays an incredible amount of information on its search screen. We will start this section by explaining a few key concepts that WinMX employs:
Queues - A queue is a basically a waiting list. If you are number 8 in queue, you are the eighth person in line waiting to download a file. With WinMX's popularity have come long queues. Many times it is necessary to wait for a download to begin. Although this situation has generated a vocal group of dissatisfied WinMX users, the problem isn't quite as bad as it seems. It is most common to find larger mp3 files, full albums, or album wraps tied up in long queues. Although it can seem frustrating, the eventual download almost never fails. For example, say you're on a broadband connection and want the full works of Beethoven. This file may be 150 megabytes and you may be in a queue behind 20 people. This may seem like an eternity, however, if you set up several of these downloads before you go to sleep, you will be pleasantly surprised in the morning to see most of the transfers complete.
Auto Find Sources (AFS) - This feature determines how often WinMX will look for additional sources of a file for download . Obviously, you would want WinMX to find additional sources as often as possible, so you should keep this setting at the shortest interval of 10 minutes. If you are interested in knowing more about exactly how AFS works, read this from Buchanan's WinMX site (defunct) which is quoted below:
... the Auto Find Sources function will only continue to automatically source additional users when there is less than X sources already present on the file transfer. When X is met, the AFS will stop searching for additional users to add to the download. The 'X' value is dependent on the connection type configured in the WinMX settings menu; see the table below to determine when your AFS will stop seeking more sources.
For slower connections (14.4k - ISDN, including Unknown), AFS stops searching when 6 sources are already in progress/queue. For faster connections (DSL - T3), AFS stops searching when 15 sources are already in progress/queue.
Auto Enter Queue (AEQ) - This feature will automatically place you in queue for a file when you try to download it (or when WinMX finds a suitable source) so long as the person you are sourcing from has less than a choosable specified number in his/her queue slots. So if you set this to 10, and a source is found that has LESS THAN 10 people in his/her queue, then you will enter that queue as well. This feature is meant to help those people who get kicked off line often or are on slow connections by limiting placement in long queues that may take longer to initiate than you will be online. Bottom line, if you are on a slow connection keep this setting low (10-20). Also remember on a slow connection, you will only be able to use AFS when less than 6 sources are downloading/queued, so you should conserve those slots by using only short queues.
Available Files On Top - When this button is depressed, all files with available sources will be moved to the top of the results window. This gives you a quick way to determine which file is most likely to successfully download in the shortest time.
Ping Search Results - Pinging the search results gives you an idea of how fast the connection between you and other users will be. WinMX sends out a message (PING) to the source and receives an answer (PONG). The amount of time that it takes to get the answer is shown in Milleseconds. The lower the number the faster that source should be when you start downloading from it. Bottom line - The lower the Ping, the faster the download. You are given the option to ping all results or just the ones shown in the window (which if you have Available Files On Top set, can be very beneficial and faster).
Now that we have a good idea of the terms and concepts, lets see how WinMX displays the search results and how to interpret the information given.
Understanding all these numbers is simple once you understand what they are representing:
User - This column simply states the number of sources that have been found with that particular file.
Speed - This column indicates the breakdown between high and low bandwidth users. This is indicated by green for high speed and red for low speed. These two numbers will always add up to the total number of users.
Status/Server - This column indicates the number of users that have available queue slots from the result given in the Speed column. In the above case we could deduce that 17 of the 20 sources found are high speed connections and 5 of the 17 sources have available slots. Likewise, 3 of the 20 sources are low speed connections and 1 of those 3 has an available slot.
Clicking on the Hotlist button will open the vertical hotlist section on the right side of the WinMX window. You can add users to this list anytime you see a users name (on the search, transfers, or chat screens) by right clicking and adding the user to the hotlist. This is particularly a good feature if you have found someone who has the same interests as you or who has a fast connection speed. Once they are on your hotlist you can browse their files or send them messages to perhaps set up trades.
Here we find a standard transfer screen showing your uploads and downloads and giving you the options to control the AFS and AEQ settings for each download by right clicking on it.
This is simply a graphical representation of your upload and download bandwidth usage.
Need More Help?
There are many other websites out there dedicated to WinMX. We definately recommend you check them out.