Bittorrent and Gnutella might be hogging the headlines of the peer to peer (P2P) world, but close behind comes Ares, a successful P2P application that boasts of having its own decentralized network and a simple, quick access interface. Ares spun-off from Gnutella in 2002, and since then has been building a strong and dedicated community of users.
Installing Ares only takes a few minutes and the interface is simple enough that anybody will feel comfortable with it. Ares lets you auto scan your PC to find files you might like to share on the network. Beginners will be relieved to know that there is no complex configuration process involved. Once Ares is installed, all you need to do is select the search tab and type the name of the file you want to download. Once it appears, double click on it to begin downloading. You’ll be able to check its progress in the transfer tab.
If you enjoy exchanging words with other users, click on the chat tab and connect to one of the thousands of channels available. You can pick up tips on how to use Ares better, ask which files other users recommend or just chit chat about your life in general. You can even insert emoticons into your conversation and keep a list of your favorite chat channels.
Ares also features an inbuilt browser, that, while fairly basic, actually includes tabs. This is particularly useful if you want to check out information on a particular artist or movie or if you want to browse the net while your downloads are underway. Of all the P2P programs, Ares probably features the widest preview screen. You can set it to fit to screen or adjust it to your preference. This is a great way of making sure you’re downloading the right movie or to get a sneak peak at your downloads.
Unlike WinMX or FileNavigator, the two other spin-off Gnutella projects, Ares did not drop into obscurity and unites a flourishing community of users. However, the same old problems usually seem to arise. According to many Ares users the application suffers from constant connectivity troubles making it difficult to properly search for a file or to successfully complete downloads. Others will worry that Ares is a much smaller network than the globally used Gnutella and does not offer quite as much download sources.
Ares is an ambitious project, and the fact that it still remains standing while eDonkey has fallen at the hands of the RIAA, is characteristic of its reliability. Thanks to a strong community of users, a simple interface, a great preview page and multichat service, Ares remains a P2P application of choice for anybody interested into sharing files over the internet.