The Best Free P2P File Sharing Software Programs

Find your favorite P2P file sharing program

Millions of people used to use free peer-to-peer file sharing (P2P) networks and software client programs every day to swap music, video, and other files over the internet. While some P2P networks were shut down and other forms of file-swapping took their place, some favorite P2P programs still exist in one form or another. 

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BitTorrent logo
What We Like
  • Easy to set up and use.

  • Scheduling lets you control when in use.

  • Android app is also available.

What We Don't Like
  • Includes ads.

  • Not a lot of useful additional tools found in other clients.

The original BitTorrent client first appeared on the scene in 2001. It quickly attracted a loyal following among those interested in sharing movies and television programs in the form of torrent files. It is one of the few free peer-to-peer (P2P) software applications from that era still in widespread use. Various other alternative clients used with the BitTorrent network such as Azureus, BitComet, and BitTornado also existed but are less popular than they once were. There is now an Android BitTorrent mobile app available.

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Vuze BitTorrent client logo
What We Like
  • Lots of features and plugins expand functionality.

  • Social connectivity.

  • Ability to opt out of bundled add-ons, such as the browser toolbar.

What We Don't Like
  • Bundled add-ons like extensions and browser toolbar (unless you opt out of these).

  • May be somewhat complex for new users.

Vuze makes the downloading of P2P content easier than many other BitTorrent clients out there. Vuze takes the time to explain features that those new to the world of torrents may be unfamiliar with. It's easy to use, intuitive, and feature-rich for a free client.

There is a paid version of Vuze, too, which offers additional features such as built-in antivirus protection, the ability to play content at the same time as downloading content, a DVD burner, and ads are eliminated in the paid version.

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qBittorrent website and logo
What We Like
  • Open source software.

  • No ads.

  • Interface is uncomplicated and easy to use.

What We Don't Like
  • Fewer plugins and extensions than other clients.

  • Issues reported on Linux.

qBittorent is a good all-around client that offers a decent array of features and extras, but not so many that it becomes overwhelming. Its interface makes use easy, even for new users; qBittorent is a good choice if you're new to P2P downloading. While it is new-user-friendly, it doesn't lack for useful features more experienced users look for.

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Ares Galaxy

Ares Galaxy
What We Like
  • Quick searches.

  • Not hard to use.

What We Don't Like
  • Crashing issues.

  • Fake files seem to be common.

Ares Galaxy was developed in 2002, first supporting the Gnutella network and later the separate Ares P2P network. Ares Galaxy was designed to offer decentralized music and other file-swapping support with built-in chat. A spinoff client for the Ares network called Warez was also developed.

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No Longer Available

BearShare — P2P file-sharing program was a client for the Gnutella P2P network.

EDonkey/Overnet — A P2P file-sharing network especially popular in Europe. The eDonkey P2P client connected to both the eDonkey and Overnet networks, which combined to support a large base of users and files. A separate Overnet client existed at one time some years ago, but it was merged into eDonkey, which ran on Windows, Linux, and Mac computers.

Kazaa — software family (including the Kazaa Lite series of applications) for the FastTrack P2P network was the most popular line of P2P file-sharing programs for a time in the early 2000s.

Limewire — P2P file-sharing program connected to Gnutella and ran on Windows, Linux, and Mac computers. Limewire was recognized for its simple user interface along with good search and download performance.

Morpheus — P2P clients were capable of searching Gnutella2, FastTrack, eDonkey2K, and Overnet P2P networks.

WinMX — Ran only on the Windows family of operating systems, but this client and its associated WPNP network were hugely popular during the mid-2000s. WinMX was known for its relatively advanced (at the time) options to help power users better manage their downloads.