Hack 89 File Sharing without the Spyware


Finding and sharing music files doesn't mean that your system has to be filled with pop-up ads and spyware. Here's how to share files and entertainment files without the excess baggage.

If you're a fan of the Kazaa file-sharing and music-sharing software, you probably know that the biggest problem with the program is that it's full of pop-up ads and spyware. The spyware tracks your activities as you use the Internet, reports on them to an ad server, and you're then served ads based on your travels. Additionally, some of the spyware can be even more insidious and in the future could make use of your computer's spare CPU cycles without you knowing it.

If you try to track down and disable the program's associated spyware, as detailed in [Hack #33], you'll disable Kazaa.

10.5.1 Kazaa Lite

One solution is to get an ad-free and spyware-free version of the program, called Kazaa Lite, shown in Figure 10-6. In all other respects, it looks and functions like Kazaa and taps into the same file-sharing network, but it doesn't carry the ads and spyware. It's free and available for download from http://doa2.host.sk.

Figure 10-6. Kazaa Lite

Search and share files with it just as you do with Kazaa. As with Kazaa, if you're using a high-speed connection and fast PC, you may find that your PC will be turned into a supernode, which means you'll be subject to many searches and downloads from other Kazaa and Kazaa Lite users. In essence, your PC becomes a gateway into the entire file-sharing network for nearby users. This can be problematic and clog your bandwidth. If you don't want to be a supernode, choose Tools Options Advanced and check the box next to "Do not function as a SuperNode."

The program offers other benefits as well. When you run Kazaa, it calculates your participation level?how frequently other people download files from you. Based on that participation level, you may either have to wait in a long line to download files from others, or else immediately jump to the head of the download queue. Kazaa Lite automatically gives you the highest participation level, so that you need not wait in line to download. Additionally, it will automatically find several sources for the file you want to download and then download from all sources simultaneously to save you download time.

By the way, don't look for the software in a popular download site such as http://www.download.com. The owner of Kazaa asked that the software be removed from that site, and the site complied. Instead, go straight to http://doa2.host.sk/.

10.5.2 Shareaza

Another ad-free and spyware-free alternative to Kazaa is Shareaza (http://www.shareaza.com), a front-end peer-to-peer client for the popular Gnutella file-sharing network.