eMule: The popular P2P file sharing app that does all the donkey work

Avatar

Peer-to-peer file sharing is a well-known concept, and currently there are loads of file-sharing programs relying on this technology but only a few of them are worth mentioning. eMule is one of the favorite file-sharing applications that is using the eDonkey and Kad networks, born as an alternative to eDonkey2000 client. Some of eMule’s most notable features are the decentralized network, large user community, credit-based reward system for uploaders and fast recovery of corrupted downloads.

eMule server list

Installation & Requirements

Opposite to the usual installing experience of freeware programs, where some adware or other nagging feature is present, eMule’s installation process is expeditious and free of any kind of advertisement. At first launch the program deploys a wizard that will assist you to perform a series of basic settings including for ports and connection with the possibility to test them and make sure they are functional.

eMule was designed as a Windows program and supports all versions newer than Windows 95. However as stated by eMule’s developers on their official website: “Windows 98 and ME have very poor network implementation impairing eMule’s performance”. Bottom line, Windows 2000 or higher OS are recommended for eMule to run properly.

eMule’s open source status lead to the appearance of many mods (modifications), that are somewhat improved versions of it or designed for other operating systems than Microsoft Windows, including Mac OS X and various versions of Linux.

Interface

For someone that never used a P2P file-sharing application before, eMule’s interface can be a little confusing, even so, the graphic layout designed in a more visual Windows Explorer style, manages to provide a steep learning curve for anyone.

eMule’s interface has an icon-based menu located at the top of the window that contains all of its features and settings in a well-organized and easily accessible manner.

The “Servers” option displays a full list of all the servers found by the program with the possibility to manually add new ones. As eMule has millions of users, you are likely to download popular files at high-speed and even find rare or very old ones. The “Search” function is packed with filters for file type, size, network, server, extension and search method. The full downloads list is displayed within the “Transfers” window, with different colored progress bars depending on the download status. All the information fields are resizable so you can quickly adjust their appearance based on your specific needs.

The main menu additionally has icons for Connect/Disconnect, Kad, Shared Files, Messages, IRC, Statistics, Options, Tools and Help. Basically everything you need…it’s there and even if you don’t use all these features their existence will not bother you in any way.

Pros

– Feature-rich and easy to use.

– Decentralized network using multiple servers from all around the world.

– Credit-based reward system for uploaders.

– Provides a built-in friend & messaging system and IRC.

– eMule’s large number of modifications make it available for multiple operating systems.

– Suitable for finding old or rare content.

Cons

– The official version is compatible only with Windows-based systems.

– Average download speed is significantly lower than the one provided by BitTorrent clients.

Alternatives

Even if the new trend in the file sharing software industry involves programs with BitTorrent support, the file-sharing clients which are not included in this category, such as eMule, still have some great uses, such as quickly downloading a few songs or searching old and rare files.

Ironically one of the main eMule’s competitors is itself. As an open source program, some of eMules mods became very popular thanks to a bundle of extra features or built-in support for operating systems other than Windows. One of them is aMule, an ED2K app that is growing to be more and more independent from eMule and supports Windows, Linux and MAC OS X platforms altogether. eMule Plus is another well-known eMule modification for Windows, featuring a changed GUI and a number of additional enhancements. However eMule Plus lacks support for obfuscation and Kad network.

Shareaza is a comprehensive alternative to eMule, with multiple network protocols supported such as gnutella, Gnutella2, ED2K, BitTorrent, FTP, HTTP and HTTPS and the ability to handle magnet links. Unfortunately Shareaza is a Windows-based application just like eMule.

Conclusion

Because BitTorrent applications only allow torrent files for sharing, older files become harder to find as people could still have them but not under the form of torrents. eMule and similar programs rely on sharing files in their native form, with no complicated transformations involved, thus turning their contributing users into a gold mine when it comes to finding old, rare or personal content in spite of the reduced download speed.