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Peer to Peer Filesharing
Disclaimer - you are breaking the law by downloading and using copyright protected media or any media that is illegal in your jurisdiction. I am providing information only, what you choose to do with it is up to you. I am not responsible for anything you download and install using this information or for any damage done to your computer operating system, or for any content you find and download that is illegal. - Jonah
File sharing with traditional P2P clients like Limewire is a risky business, most P2P Clients are "free" but are stuffed full of adware bundles, some "fixed" versions are even worse. The goal of these providers is to get you to pay for a clean version of their particular client which means you are then at the mercy of their database as a user of P2P software. I am not saying P2P does not have legitimate uses but its use is almost exclusively for downloading copyright protected material and uploading it which puts you at some risk of legal action and heavy fines. The big draw is they are all very easy to install and use so here are a few tips to look for especially if a youngster has installed a P2P Client on the Family PC to download music.
Bit Torrent clients are such as U Torrent & Bit Comet are not as problematical from a adware point of view but bit torrent tracker sites are heavily monitored and very risky unless used with ID protecting software such as-
Security Kiss Tunnel which is explained here
There is a list of the top 5 clients used today here as at 2012
P2P Clients by default (or by heavy hints to click "Yes") search your PC for Media Files to share on the P2P network, that means all your music, videos (yes and the hidden ones), photos, and even software installers are found and shared by some nastier P2P clients. They all activate on startup by default and proceed to advertise the contents they have found for anyone to download - are we paying attention now 8-) If you are uploading loads of copyright protected music files all day long (and probably not aware you are doing so) the legal consequences can be severe and expensive.
Bit Torrent Clients do not generally do any of the above and only actually share what you have currently downloaded or are in the process of downloading and so are much safer technically if not legally. Indeed Bit Torrent is used for entirely legitimate distribution of content by Linux distributors, BBC i-Player, lots of conten tproviders, wheras a P2P client has virtually no legal users because of its nature, so using one is the equivalent in stupidity of playing chicken on a motorway - sooner or later it will end in tears.
For whatever P2P client you have installed the best thing to do is uninstall it, use Bit torrent or Usenet instead, or to be totally legitimate read this Legal Downloading information, for all the music / video you want, some free & some via via Pandora, Last FM, TV Catchup Services, Netflix, Love Film etc.
If you insist on downloading via Bit Torrent, Usenet or the worst option P2P clients then read on -
Failing that you have to set up your client so it only shares what you want it to and nothing else. Find the "settings" or "options" menu in the Client and go through it. The crucial part is to set up a specific "shared" folder on your hard drive which the client will use to download and upload files, any other folders it is sharing must be disabled by unchecking a tick box usually. Then stop it from loading on startup, this is usually in the options somewhere but well hidden generally.
Next find yourself some stuff nobody would want to download from you, any old music will do the more obscure the better so your "shared" folder has files to share in it which boosts the download speed you get. Put this in your shared folder and remove everything else in there.
You have to go through the options carefully and try to understand what they are telling you, all of these things are different but your aim is to control exactly what it does, I cannot tell you exactly how only what to look for, anything that says "Share" or "Automatic" should be a red flag.
When a download is completed, virus check it then move it out of the "shared" folder to avoid building up large numbers of illegal files which are on offer for upload - with P2P it is very easy for the authorities to find you and monitor your activities, they do not mind downloading so much it is the heavy uploaders sharing hundreds of files they go after. If you were unaware you were uploading the entire contents of your music library this is not a defence, settlements have been in the region of £8000-00 and upwards where a parent was unaware that a youngster had been inadvertently (or not) uploading hundreds of copyright protected tracks for long periods.
More recently laws have been passed in various jurisdictions to some extent or other which give users 3 warnings then cut off their internet connection permenantly. One of the first places to fall for this ploy was New Zealand but the government there are back-pedalling hard now. Even so Media companies are riding roughshod over privacy laws and subverting legal rights by lobbying all over the world for draconian broadband cut offs without due legal process; or even proof of downloading copyright protected material. Having said all that, whether you think this is an outrageous abuse of power or not, the fact remains that until copyright law is sorted out worldwide for the 21st century then sharing copyright protected files is still illegal.
Bearing all this in mind anything you download is very easy to trace from source to your PC, deleting a file on your PC will not help because a nice logged copy is stored on your ISP for some time, some files on P2P networks are designed as legal traps, some are fakes, some are vehicles for installing spyware and viruses on your PC and you have no way of checking until the download is complete.
There are better ways to get files from the internet, much better!
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