Whenever I write about P2P (Peer to Peer) file sharing I usually get a good few e-mails slating me and accusing me of attempting to harm the music industry which simply is simply untrue.For those of you who can’t remember my last article on P2P file sharing we established that it was a method of sharing files directly between users of these programs over the Internet.

Whilst this technology is primarily used to illegally share music files with others but in principle the technology is quite legal and can be a helpful way of exchanging un-copyrighted music, video and applications.Possibly the most famous P2P program that most of you will remember is Napster which was used for several years to swap music files illegally before being closed down and later turned into a legal fee based program.

I have recently done a little bit of research into the Gnutella protocol which started life when it was released five years ago (pretty much to the day) by a bunch of programmers working for a company called NullSoft.Ultimately AOL, the owners of NullSoft pulled the plug on the project as in their words it was an “unauthorised freelance project” but due to there being so much potential in the program a guy called Brian Mayland reverse engineered the workings of the program to resume development.

The main benefit of the Gnutella network from a file sharing point of view is that because there is no centralized server there is essentially nothing that can be shut down as everything exists in software spread over hundreds of thousands of machines.The problem Napster faced was that it needed central servers which were just unplugged when court action had concluded which resulted in an instant crippling of the network.

There are a large number of clients that run using the Gnutella protocol which means that you do get a real choice in the software that you use to download and share files and as they all run using the same protocol the software that you select won’t affect the number of files available for download.

I recently discovered how much the program LimeWire ( has improved as it is now a great deal faster and more powerful than when I first tested it out several years back.This program is completely free of charge and doesn’t come bundled with any intrusive Adware or Spyware although if you want to use some of the most powerful features of the program then you can choose to pay a one off fee to help fund its development.

Please do remember that I am not condoning illegally copying files as whilst it is true that occasionally I will download recordings that have been deleted or unavailable for me to buy in the shops I do not agree with people copying newly published music rather than going to the shop and buying it themselves.

Peer to Peer file sharing is also helpful for getting new unpublished artists recognised as they will often encourage their music to be copied in such a manner so that as many people can hear their tunes as possible without having to fund a large amount of money trying to get it published.In addition there is also plenty of free software and movies that can quite legally be copied across the Gnutella network using a program such as LimeWire.

One last point I would like to make is to remind you that yesterday was Red Nose Day and so now would be a good time to make a small donation online by visiting

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.