KaZaA is a 1.5MB program that works on the surface much like Napster. Like Napster, you log in and search for a file name. Unlike Napster, however, you are able to search for ANY file, not just music files. The benefits are mainly for broadband users, as the movies are quite large and take too long (usually) on a 56k line.

Also, unlike Napster, it is much more difficult to shut down. Napster works through a server, where your computer sends a list of its music files, and Napster keeps track of that while you are signed on (to make searching for files quicker). KaZaA works by sending the query to each individual user. It takes a bit longer to search, though not much longer at all (at the max, a minute).

Another nice option of KaZaA is Theatre. Theatre is a screen where you can view movies as they're downloading, or one once it is completed. As Devon_Hart nicely pointed out, Theatre is a Windows Media Player plugin.

Every file that you download goes to a "My Shared Folder." The files that are in this folder are also the ones that you share with the rest of the KaZaA community. Of course, if don't want to share the files, you can move them out of the "My Shared Folder" folder.

Download KaZaA at: www.kazaa.com
Beware if you download and install kazaa, it tries to install something called Ezula or Hottext or some other stupid name, anyway this program grabs keywords out of web pages you download and turns them into yellow links to commerical web sites.

Some examples of words that got turned into links that I saw included "casino" "auction" "win". There was an interesting debate about it on slashdot...

Anyway one of the things they were all oblivious to is that you can uninstall it from the add/remove program dialogue. I figured out it had to be some program that was causing it and looking through my list of processes I noticed something called "eZula" When I killed it the yellow links stopped appearing. I did a search for it on google and found the manufacturer's site which confirmed my suspicion. I didn't know kazaa was the source of it till I saw the slashdot post. Supposedly you can opt to not install it when installing kazaa but I didnt notice anything like that. Try not to suffer my fate.

A word of warning about Kazaa: it has a nasty habit of losing downloads halfway through downloading. Because of the nature of the way it stores transfers in-progress, any interruption to the download - for example a crash (or even a 'proper' restart) - can cause the download to be automatically deleted the next time you run Kazaa. Whilst this is less of an issue on broadband, it's something of a problem downloading 700mb DivX files on a 56k!

The fix is somewhat hit-and-miss (much like the program), but it gives you at least a fair chance of salvaging your download.

Back up:

  1. Your Kazaa downloads folder (usually My Shared Folder)
  2. the \Program Files\Kazaa\Data\ directory
  3. The Kazaa registry folders (both HKEY_CURRENT_USER and HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE), this is optional but it seemed to help

If you have a reboot and your downloads are gone, close Kazaa, replace the files and keys, and restart Kazaa.

All pretty simple stuff I know, but perhaps useful.

An extremely frustrating program for users on a 56k Modem, as mentioned above. Not only do large files take exorbinant amounts of download time, but simply connecting to the user with the file can take in upwards of two minutes. Quite frustrating.

As dr3w mentioned above, there is a little program that KaZaA installs. This, however, is supposedly not the only one. It is meant to contain a treasure trove of wonderful Spyware, which we all love! For those of us who don't like little advertisement programs and Spyware, we can all download KaZaA Lite. Cracked by an anonymous Russian do-gooder, KaZaA Lite has all the features from KaZaA minus the unsavoury programs and Spyware.

Note: Zerotime has enlightened me that running Ad-Aware and replacing the cd_clint.dll with a clean one does much the same thing as the "lite" version. The lite version, however, does seem to be faster than the normal.

KaZaA Lite can be found at: www.kazaalite.com.

After reading rawden's write up below, I thought I might post a little warning about those "3 or 4 certain files with names that I have never heard of, bear seemingly no relation to what I typed into the seach box, and have a strange gold icon". Those gold icon files are a new money making scheme developed by Sharman Networks. It is quite clever actually, and these are files posted by their advertisers. They download at the full speed of your connection, without wavering or having to worry about getting multiple sources as they are being uploaded from a dedicated commercial server, however, there is a catch - as there always is. You might download it quickly, but its going to be a waste of your time, especially on 56k, because they're hefty downloads. I assume this is because they are full quality, but they could just be riddled with more spyware (perhaps both).

Anyhow, even after you have completely downloaded it, moved it anywhere on your hard drive you like, each individual download has a special codec required for it to work. Therefore, when you attempt to play this file (I have only downloaded a gold file once, and it was a movie), it launches your player, begins loading, but then pops up with a nice little box informing you that this will cost X american dollars to download the correct codec in order to view it. The particular movie I downloaded, Chopper, demanded US$15 for its viewing. This particular file could not use the Kazaa preview feature, although I later tried it with another gold file and it still demanded payment.

Therefore, if you aren't bothered about paying for it, these gold files aren't bad, as they download at full speed, and may be of exceptional quality, but also may be riddled with spyware. If you do mind paying, then don't download them or you'll waste your bandwidth.

Software Title: KaZaA
Publisher: Sharman Networks
Type: P2P client: FastTrack Network
Spyware: Yes
Platforms: Windows 95/98/2000/NT/ME/XP
Requirements: Internet Explorer 4.0, Windows Media Player 6.4

Beware Kazaa, for in the latest evolutions it is smarter. First you download not the actual client files, but an install program that contains a stripped down FastTrack client. This connects to the network and downloads the actual client package, then initiates the install. Somewhere in the install it shows you the super-cryptic EULA, with bold red letters telling you maybe you should read it. Somewhere after that is a list of software to install. It lists the Kazaa client, and over 6 spyware programs with cute and punny names, that young siblings and/or children don't know better to avoid. Even if you uncheck these programs Kazaa tries to sneak one past you. After the install, the first time Kazaa runs a little applet will open in minimized state and with "b3d installer" in little type. If you open this up you will see the Brilliant Digital logo and a very quickly moving progress bar above a list of files being downloaded. The only button is "Cancel" so if you press your spacebar quickly you should cut it off. Should.

For, thinking I was the victor, I went on to download some of those 700 MB DivX files mentioned in previous writeups. Hey, I've never seen Pulp Fiction, I'll get that one. At some point when I wasn't looking, Kazaa restarted the install process. So now I have a Brilliant Digital client that blares low-bitrate music during "amazing 3D advertisements" and competes with the United Devices client for my spare CPU cycles as part of Brilliant Digital's "Nobody minds if we take their free CPU time for our own purposes" scheme. They could at least tell us what we're processing. I would call this Heinous, Dastardly, and Lame. But the fact is:

So really don't we come out even? The latest versions don't have a problem with losing downloads, and searches have gotten much faster with more results returned. Kazaa is really a great program, and like my mom says about privacy "We've got nothing to hide", which is somehow maddening. And if you (like me) want privacy for your porn habit and credit card numbers, boot over to your Linux install. What? You don't have one? Try Mandrake.

stewacide says check out eDonkey, which does all the stuff Kazza does without resorting to spyware. I don't have any experience with it, so click the link to read about it!


A few issues that I've noticed/haven't noticed with Kazaa:

First, the issue that's been mentioned about downloads restarting when your system is rebooted is something that's never happened to me. I don't know whether that's just because I've got a later version or what, but it certainly doesn't seem to be a problem with everyone.

Second, Kazaa doesn't seem to react nicely when certain programs are running at the same time it is. My friends and I have all noticed that it seems to have a particular loathing for Winamp (perhaps it views it as a rival in music playing capability?), and I suspect that it's not too keen on me running MSN Messenger. Also, woe betide anyone who tries to play freecell when Kazaa is around. In all of these cases, I have frequently had to hit the reset button (though thankfully without the trauma of lost downloads).

The third thing I have noticed recently is that whatever I search for, Kazaa turns up 3 or 4 certain files with names that I have never heard of, bear seemingly no relation to what I typed into the seach box, and have a strange gold icon. What's up with that?

However, despite these occurrences, Kazaa is enormously useful for anyone who downloads a lot of music and films from the internet, and who has broadband. On the topic of Kazaalite, I'm just downloading it (ironically enough by using Kazaa itself), and I'll try it out. Sounds good though, as those adverts are really beginning to get on my nerves.

Oh, by the way, if pop up ads are pissing you off, you might try pop up stopper from http://www.popupstopper.com . This nifty piece of software blocks all new internet explorer windows from opening unless you hold the shift (maybe ctrl?) key while the link is activated. Very useful!

The main reason Kazaa and its FastTrack brothers can stay decentralized and yet resist being as dog slow as the ancient Gnutella is that users' upload lists and subsequent queries are sent to designated local super-peers, called Supernodes.

Any Kazaa client can choose to become a Supernode within the options dialog. A checkbox labeled "Do not function as a supernode" is checked by default, and it's a simple matter of unchecking this and reconnecting to the network to find yourself a vital part of the Kazaa experience. Don't you feel all warm and fuzzy now.

As of version 2, Kazaa adopted a participation level system to encourage proper and righteous filesharing. This system involves a dynamic number which supposedly measures your share-fu - that is, how much you give in comparison to how much you take. The upshot of our magic number is seen when you go to download a file: participation level determines your priority on other users' upload queues. More recent developments (namely, the hacking of Kazaa Lite into a userbase-developed K++) have proven capable of circumventing the issue by freezing client-side participation levels for both uploads and downloads.

Kazaa Lite is an excellent alternative to Kazaa, dropping the spyware as well as some bitrate limits on mp3s, and it comes with optional little tool-apps to make downloads speedier and more efficient, as opposed to the "optional" spyware and adware of the original Kazaa. But don't take my word for it!

A vast, steaming heap of information, relevant files, and FAQs can be found at http://www.k-lite.tk

There are some nifty tools that enhance the performance of Kazaa. Here are some:

If you are frustrated with Kazaa itself, it's worth trying out file-sharing applications with alternative network architectures such as like Limewire, Bearshare, Blubster and Morpheus.

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