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With Napster over the hill, losing most of its content due to copywriters, threatening to charge for its use and so on, I was keen to look for another free alternative. Bear Share name occurred a few times, being highly recommended on the web, so why no seeing as it was free what have I got to lose?
Bear Share is a Peer-to-Peer network file sharing system, not just for music mp3, but all sorts of other files including movies, pictures and other types of music files. It is based on Gnutella, another system I have tried before. Both are very good with plenty of content, but Bear Share is my personal favourite, because I found it a lot easier to use, with a more agreeable interface. On Gnutella you need to find the host address yourself, but Bear Share does it all for you, finding the best download speed and servers to match, so avoiding you to do any complicated searching, you can just type in the name of the band or song and your off. This makes it nice and easy to someone like me who knows very little about computers and the internet.
The install and download could not have been easier. Go to www.bearshare.com the file is around one and a half megabytes, so nice and small to download. The install was simply, all guided step by step. One point, is it tries to install sister programs, and other junk programs automatically, so your best bet is to do a custom install, and just install Bear Share itself to avoid this.
Once up and running it connects to its servers. It uses lots of different ones, not just a central one, so this can take a while. There are several coloured dials in the bottom left corner. When the one on the far left turns green, you are connected and ready to download. Just type in song/band name in the box and press 'add'. Easy! Once again this can take a while but a list of files come up and double click on the one you want to download.
All files have a bar on the left of the information, and works simply a long green bar = stable, easy to connect file, and short red bar = unstable, possible problems. I have never personally come across any viruses on Bear Share, but it is still a real possibility on any of these so watch out. Also potential problems the default setting give a low share rate of only four people on one file at a time, so unless people change it, the files can get busy quickly. This and a link being down are the two most common errors. Generally these are few and far between. Obviously there is the chance of a virus, or something nasty that could be downloaded, and there is no automatic filter. However I just use my computers virus scam, to check all downloaded files, and I have never had any problems with Bear Share. Also the fact pictures and videos can be downloaded, pornography can be found on the network. Again there is no automatic feature, so you may want to consider this it you have young children that may b e using this.
Overall Bear Share is my choice of replacement for Napster. It has no chat facility, that I enjoyed on Napster, but for overall choice of good quality files and no copy write laws, means Bear Share is a very good alternative. Problems are few, but it has crashed twice on me, but generally seams very stable and if a file is busy, you can almost always find a replacement. Hopefully this will not be closed down, but until it does, consider this as a great option