What’s Up With eMule These Days? Is The File Sharing Network Slowly Becoming Obsolete?

image38   Whats Up With eMule These Days? Is The File Sharing Network Slowly Becoming Obsolete?Believe it or not, eMule is still alive and kicking. These days, file sharing is all about BitTorrent and file-hosting websites like RapidShare and the ill-fated MegaUpload. Many of the older file-sharing applications have long-passed – LimeWire, Kazzaa, AudioGalaxy, Napster – they’re no more. But eMule is still with us. It’s a peer-to-peer file-sharing application that uses eDonkey servers and its own decentralized Kad network.

Unlike many peer-to-peer applications, eMule is an open-source project and it doesn’t come bundled with any adware or spyware. With an integrated search feature and a shared files directory, eMule represents another era of file sharing.

Popularity

It may be hard to believe – given all the attention paid to BitTorrent and other file-sharing methods – but eMule is still quite popular. When I wrote this article, eMule had received over 761,000 downloads this week and was the 10th most popular download on SourceForge.

image39   Whats Up With eMule These Days? Is The File Sharing Network Slowly Becoming Obsolete?

eMule is a Windows-only program, but Mac OS X and Linux users aren’t left out. They can use aMule, which is cross-platform. aMule has a similar interface to eMule and uses some of the same code.

Fake Servers

In 2007, TorrentFreak estimated that as many as 60% of the available eDonkey servers were “fake” or “spy” servers. Fake servers have different motivations – some return results filled with malware to try and infect your system, while some monitor your eMule usage and may send it to anti-peer-to-peer companies.

Fake servers often return search results full of garbled, nonsensical, or empty files. They won’t display actual, real files – if you’re connected to a fake server, your files won’t show up in other users’ searches.

image40   Whats Up With eMule These Days? Is The File Sharing Network Slowly Becoming Obsolete?

eMule’s Kad network does bypass the need for servers, helping with this problem. After eMule finds a few other Kad-supporting clients, it can connect to the Kad network. It’s sort of like DHT in torrent clients.

image41   Whats Up With eMule These Days? Is The File Sharing Network Slowly Becoming Obsolete?

Like with other peer-to-peer networks, bad clients can also poison the network with fake files that appear in search results.

Lack Of Updates

eMule was last updated in April 2010 – nearly 2 years ago. While development isn’t completely stalled, future updates will likely only contain minor changes and bug fixes. uTorrent and many other BitTorrent clients release updates at a comparatively breakneck pace.

image42   Whats Up With eMule These Days? Is The File Sharing Network Slowly Becoming Obsolete?

eMule lacks a few features we take for granted in modern peer-to-peer programs. It doesn’t support IPv6, which will likely be important in the future. It also doesn’t support NAT traversal – if you can’t use UPnP or forward ports manually, you’ll get a “low ID” which indicates that other clients can’t connect to you. This will reduce your download speed – uTorrent, for example, gets around this with its NAT traversal feature.

Its interface also feels a bit out-of-date and would likely be confusing to many users who are only familiar with torrent clients.

Usage

Today’s most popular file-sharing methods – both BitTorrent clients and online file-hosting sites – make you search the Web for .torrent files or links to downloads. eMule is more similar to Napster and other old school peer-to-peer applications – it includes a search tab. After connecting to a server on the Servers tab, you can search for files and start downloading them.

image43   Whats Up With eMule These Days? Is The File Sharing Network Slowly Becoming Obsolete?

This approach may help you find older, rarer files that may not have torrents, but it also has some downsides. Not as many people use eMule and other eDonkey clients, so it may be hard to find some files. And if a file only has a few sources, the file may not be what it claims to be.

While eMule’s interface may feel a little outdated, it does support multiple sources. When you start downloading a file, eMule will download pieces of the file from various users that have the file, so you aren’t just downloading a file from a single user.

image44   Whats Up With eMule These Days? Is The File Sharing Network Slowly Becoming Obsolete?

eMule uses a credit system. When you upload to another eMule client, that eMule client remembers you’ve uploaded to them and gives you download priority in the future. This encourages users to upload as well as download.

For more information, check out our free, full guides to file sharing, BitTorrent, and Usenet.

Do you use eMule, or do you prefer a different file-sharing application? Let us know in the comments.

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

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37 Comments -

0 votes

Fer

E-Mule is slow and dated. I prefer torrents.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Yup, most file-sharing users do prefer torrents these days. I was shocked that eMule is still so popular, to be honest.

0 votes

alex

cos emule are for real people who know how file sharing should be. not some kids toys

0 votes

Gideon

Ahh, eMule, fun memories :) I use torrents myself (Tixati is my client of choice at the moment) due to the commenting system on torrent sites that allow you to quickly filter out the good from the bad. With eMule and the like it’s a shot in the dark as what you might get and I do remember getting viruses and bogus files from it back in the day even if it had many if not the most peers uploading for the particular file. A little strange.

But it certainly holds a large amount of nostalgia for me.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

eMule certainly hasn’t changed much!

You’ve definitely hit on the big problem with peer-to-peer systems like these ones. BitTorrent trackers have communities with reputations and comments. Networks like this one do not.

0 votes

renato

Torrent has waited long enough to become the main file sharing protocol. Been there for a long time now, and it’s still a mistery to the large public, but I believe it will popularize more and more, specially now that Megaupload and other filehost websites have been shutdown.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Torrents are definitely way more mainstream than eMule, that’s for sure.

And file-hosting websites do seem to be on the rocks these days. They have obvious central points of failure, after all.

0 votes

wilL Toxic

uTorrent is my choice,
but i got to admit if it wasn’t for eMule i wouldn’t of found torrents so i give them their credit and a big thank you.
back in 07 is when i start P2P after soulseek, eMule showed me the way to Torrent clients by reading and searching and Researching

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

eMule does seem like a program whose time has past.

And yet — its network is still chugging along.

0 votes

Pedro

This article made me retry emule, and because of it I even switched from BT. I disagree with the users that classify it as outdated. It’s just a different tool than torrents: It’s slower but there’s much more file diversity.

It is much better than BT if you just want to cherrypick the digital media you consume instead of collecting terabytes of mainstream crap (porn included). And it is much better than BT if you do not want to take centuries searching websites for a torrent with that weird movie made in that weird country that only you heard about.

The search really saves you time!

BT is for greedy pop culture consumers. I am glad not to belong in that group.

0 votes

Pedro

It is hardwired against leechers. That’s why there is more file diversity, and that’s why it forces you to wait more time. The bitorrent’s speed greed just makes the filsharing comunity become more monocultural.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Interesting to hear that someone prefers eMule! Thanks for your perspective. There are obviously quite a few people with similar opinions, which is why eMule still seems to be going so strong.

0 votes

RecarGable

I use eMule. I think that it’s the best tool when looking for non-common files. Or, maybe, it was. When a lot o people gave up using it, for several reasons, the availability decreased as well. I remember find very old or strange things (films, documents, musical videos, …). In these days that is more difficult but i still use it.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

That’s true, torrents aren’t generally the best way to find old stuff, although they’re great for new stuff.

On the other hand, torrents are so widely used that it’s often possible to find torrents with old, uncommon stuff these days.

0 votes

Ann

“It’s slower but there’s much more file diversity.”

Exactly. Who cares about speed? Just choose the files you want (which aren’t available on bittorrent anyway) and do something else while it downloads quietly in the background.

0 votes

Ron

I am glad Emule is still alive and kicking! I appreciate the flexibility of the software, plus the ability to have pretty much one stop shop for music. Maybe I’ve been using it so lon that, I’ve grown accustomed to what Emule can provide vs not provide.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Yup, you’re probably used to it — still, its interface does feel a bit trapped in the past.

0 votes

b

Personally, I can’t understand why torrents have developed into such popularity. For me, they’re no match to eMule when it comes to the system and the convenience of using it. The torrents are a real hassle! They may not look that from a leacher’s perspective (… or make it: from the perspective of a person who mostly downloads stuff; which is probably what most users do). Eventually, most of these users would probably delete both most of the downloaded files and their torrents in short order: soon after having watched the movie or installed the app. They will of course keep some, but even so, should they decide to move the files to a different locations, they will simply do that and then they will probably delete the red-arrowed entries resulting from the torrent files losing touch with their respective data files. Searching for torrents on the www also seems quite natural from such typical user’s point of view.

When you’re uploading stuff, though, you’re facing a bit of challenge and some extra hurdles to overcome. First, you’re constrained in your use of your own disk space, because you practically have to place your uploads in their final destinations on the drive right from the word go: changing data-files’ location means updating all their respective torrent-files, and that’s not a pleasant way to pass your time. Secondly, you have to find a site to upload your torrent-files to. And that’s another big pain in the neck. Not only are there loads of such sites (which brings you to puzzle over which and how many to go for), but also — and this is worse — most of these websites require paid registration. Now… I understand there’s allegedly no such thing as a free lunch, and I would be ready to accept charging people on download credits, but why an uploader/sharer is obliged to pay for registering, too? This is totally unfair.

Compare this to eMule: 1. There’s no fees. 2. There’s just the data-files, no extra system files needed to facilitate the p2p exchange. 3. You are free to move your files: all you need to do to have them shared is to remember to mark the folder. 3-a. All you need to do to share a file is to move/copy it to one of the folders you have already designated for sharing; it’s that easy! 4. There’s one universal search mechanism: you will never wonder if perhaps you’re on a wrong site whose search engine wouldn’t cover the file you’re after.

It’s a real pity that eMule does in fact appear to be dying. I think most sharers, facing the natural dilemma: which system to choose, and not wanting to split their bandwith between eMule and a torrent application, go for the torrents.

0 votes

carker666

very good. eMule is infact dying, but that doesn’t happen in the night. First there was heavy decline because of torrents in 2003, but eMule got-up, one of the things is that the files, you couldn’t find anywhere else, yeah even on torrents, so the best time of eMule was probably in between 2004/2005. Then got the decline was in the 2006/2007 year, probably because of heavy use of sites like YouTube, etc.., and the heavy use of torrent site trackers(partis.si in the place where I live). Thought you could still find some sources, there was a heavy feeling of a decline, and completly dead after around 2008 year. Yeah, I would call that a completelly dead..

0 votes

b

Well, I don’t have your experience. I actually started using it probably around 2007 or something like that. As for me, the servers were pretty crowded at that time: it was sometimes difficult to get onto a good server. The shared-file number limits on the lesser servers were pretty low, too — so I guess you could say that the eMule was very much alive and kicking then. As to my experience, a real decline started about a year ago. There was something going on — servers were falling. I don’t know the background, because I’m not so involved as to go around looking for info. Since that time, the situation has improved, but the present state is stagnation at best. Still, considering how popular the torrents have become, it’s only natural that eMule covers but a niche. Dead it is not. Yet. And hopefully it will not be all too soon.

0 votes

Ann

Yeah, that’s the annoying thing about bittorrent, you need to keep the files in the original structure they came in or you aren’t sharing any longer / it gets re-downloaded again. With eMule, you just tell it which folders you want to share and the files are shared. There’s no torrent files or directory structures.

0 votes

Rishabh Sharma

Emule lacks popularity and versatility

0 votes

Frk

For me Emule is still so much better than torrents.

You can see files other users store (if they enable that feature), you can find very old or rare files, and the search feature is fantastic. It also helps that you have KAD and can DL from users directly, without need for a real server.

Emule rulez!

0 votes

larry

I’ve been using emule since it’s heyday and still prefer it to torrents. Torrents are for leechers mostly because it doesn’t keep sharing unless you keep all the extraneous files in the original download location. Nobody wants to keep stuff in a cluttered up download folder forever or keep multiple copies, so torrents don’t get seeded for long by most people. Emule doesn’t care where you save stuff or if you rename it – just point it at your media folder and it recognizes files and shares them out for as long as it’s on your computer. It is slow if you are a leecher, but that’s by design to keep people sharing and the network alive. The chinese are particularly big fans of emule and with that size population, I don’t think it is going away any time soon.

This article doesn’t mention it, but there are sites that host e2dk links (similar to torrents or magnet links) that save you from downloading fakes and the community is still very much alive and releasing both new and old rare material all the time. Television shows are particularly prevalent since nobody wants to keep thousands of episodes in a torrent folder, but with emule it’s easy to share forever no matter how you organize stuff. The in-program search is handy for rare stuff and is a good source for the contents of long dead torrents. It might take a long time to get rare files, but for stuff that exists nowhere else it’s worth the wait. And don’t let the lack of sources in the search page stop you from trying to download – many files are supported by hidden sources that only show themselves after you start the download – sometimes a file with no listed sources will have 2-3 hidden sources sharing out at high bandwidth.

I reshare everything I torrent to keep it alive and many others do the same. Even if you don’t download with it, reshare what you torrented at whatever bandwidth you can spare to keep the mule and the true spirit of p2p sharing alive.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Interesting, it’s big in China? I had no idea.

Thanks for the information!

0 votes

MagikGimp

There’s a few reasons eMule is still going strong:
1) Torrents are great, there’s no denying that. They’re fast; much, much faster but once a torrent is dead (it has no more seeders) that file is as good as gone too. eMule and other similar P2P software is different as in entire directories are shared rather than groups of files. If someone decides they have too many torrents going at once and stop one that’s one fewer seeder. If that happens too many times you can wave goodbye to those files forever. eMule on the other hand has files going back millennia in Internet years and that can be incredibly valuable in tracking down older content. You can share lots of files and not really even think you’re doing so with eMule. This can of course be a problem, some sly searching can have you downloading personal documents that the client accidentally selected to be shared but silly mistakes aside, those files are still around so so is eMule.
2) Torrent indexing sites are under attack right now, copyright holders have them in their sites. It’s becoming increasingly harder to find torrents these days but eMule doesn’t have that problem. Fake servers aside, its search feature combined with protocol obfuscation means you’ll often find what you’re looking for whereas torrents sites go down or lead to false links, certainly more than before.
3) China- the piracy capital of the world. Torrent traffic is heavily prevented there but slower forms of P2P traffic are harder to tackle for some reason so eMule, or rather software that uses its code, thrives. OK so some of that software leeches pretty badly but as naughty Chinese counterfeit DVD sellers and the like want to get files a fair majority of them also share back with the network. This doesn’t necessarily mean fast downloads for you but it does mean that those thousands of users are helping keep that file alive whereas torrents just aren’t possible in the land of the rising copyright theft.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

eMule is definitely pretty good for tracking down rare stuff; I’ve noticed that when I looked in the past.

0 votes

MagikGimp

The other thing I thought about after I wrote this is the technology comparison.
Both the eDonkey network and Torrent trackers have been attacked as already mentioned. Spoof eDonkey servers have been set up to flood the network with fake files and disrupt searches both for finding files and when finding peers who already have files. For torrents it’s simply the fact that many tracker sites have been taken down for ‘illegal’ activity. Some trackers are also blocked in certain countries (The Pirate Bay in the UK for example.)
Now, both technologies have reacted and adapted to these problems. Torrents are now able to seed using a decentralised method that doesn’t require trackers at all and eMule has implemented the Kad network to help share files. In fact, all eDonkey clients would do well to also adopt Kad as the majority of peers are found using this network these days.
The problem with torrents is that older ones still require trackers to get them going meaning they are dying out whereas eMule has the advantage that files are being shared on both networks simultaneously so old files and new are treated in the same way.

0 votes

Oniscoid

many thanks for the article — some useful info there

eMule has far more active users than any private torrent site, and (at least for me) more files available via ‘global’ and KAD searches than are found on the public trackers — (some eMule servers only hold a small number of files, so having the search set to ‘Local’ probably won’t the file that’s being looked for)

the big influx of Chinese users over the last couple of years is especially noticeable with ‘quality’ files (classic movies, serious literature, outstanding classical music recordings, technical articles etc) where they sometimes account for more than half the leechers

you’re right that care needs to be taken where to get the server list — (no more than 3 or 4 reliable servers are needed, as long as at least a couple of them provide a good ‘Global’ search facillity (it can vary from server to server) — it’s important to maintain a ‘high ID’, and portforwarding needs to be checked periodically as routers can reset themselves — (a direct wired or wirless connection to the router, rather than being connected via the mains electricity supply, is recommended)

file info needs to be carefully checked before and after a file starts downloading to avoid getting wrongly named files, malware and worse — (eg a 50K exe file with 50 alternative titles all containing the word “sex” which promises to deliver you a complete Oasis discography is not a suitable candidate for download)

only individual files can be shared (archives are fine), but there are no restrictions on content — as should be expected, some files are tracked by national and international law agencies — for most users this is unlikely to be a problem, but for anyone uploading very illegal content there is a risk

it’s true that eMule is generally very slow compared to torrents (tho not always) — the overall proportion of leechers to seeders tends to be higher than for torrents, — the amount of bandwidth used (= data transferred ) is of course set by the user for both torrents and eMule — patience is needed when stuck in a ‘queue’ of 5000 people, waiting one’s turn to download the next 9MB data chunk of a high res movie with only one seed; think weeks rather than days! but if that’s the only copy available online, needs must

people having problems with eMule can get help on the very active eMule Project forum

torrent trackers (public and private), Usenet, ftp archives, web download sites and p2p networks (such as eMule) all have their place — it might be better to use one rather than another in a particular case, but they are best seen as complementary

as for eMule dying… i expect it will out-live many of its users :)

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Thanks for the information! I can tell you know eMule like the back of your hand.

0 votes

Ann

Torrents are fine if you want to download movies and get sued by the MPAA, but eMule/aMule is still the best way to find music, books, documents, and more obscure files.

There’s also iMule, the anonymous version that uses the I2P network. Unfortunately there aren’t that many users/files on it.

0 votes

GOSH

It is imposible to compate torrent and ed2k.
Torrents is like “Ferrari” – very fast delivering of one newspaper. Good for initial releasing.
Ed2k – it’s a barge, carring tones and tones of content. Sometimes slow, but unstopable!
Torrents – for is for relatively small comunity.
ED2K – for the whole world!
There is no winner in this comparission. As for me, I use torrents to download fresh content and then always seed it over Ed2k. It is impossible for me to maintain torrent seeding of all my data… it’s HUGE!

0 votes

ralphrepo

One of the features that I didn’t see mentioned here is the fact that Bit Comet uses Emule as a plug in; I only wish other torrent clients would do the same (since Bit Comet is a bit of a pariah in the torrent world and I won’t use it unless I had to). Nonetheless, I’ve seen the emule plug in come in handy and contribute to the torrent DL’s with Bit Comet.

0 votes

Dingo

Be very careful using E-mule.
I know for sure that the cops are tracking what you share………………..
and will come knocking if they don’t like it!

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

That goes for everything online, if it’s bad enough.

0 votes

Has

I’ve been using eMule (and previously eDonkey2000) for more than 10 years.

So my summary is:

eMule is The Real p2p, for patient people interested in true sharing (give something to others & get something from them). And for those who download a few things they really need.

Torrent is the new way of “sharing”, which means: Downloading TBs of things a lot faster, to make your 300MB connection good. It doesn’t mind if you delete all that stuff two days later. You have to hurry, leech before seeds die.

I like sharing.

0 votes

Ventsislav Atanasov

I’ve been using emule since it got out but I also use torrents since the BT was invented and I can’t think of not having one of them – they complete each other so well.