LimeWire Pro 4.2.6, by LimeWire
Posted: 25-Jan-2005

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: LimeWire Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Rick Pancoast Class: INTERNET

Overview
LimeWire is a Peer-to-Peer data sharing program that runs native on Mac OS X, Mac Classic (8.1 or later), Linux, Unix (Solaris) and Windows (95 or later). LimeWire Basic is available for free at
www.limewire.com, while the LimeWire Pro version is available for $18.88 as a download and for $38.50 (limited supply) on CD. The Pro version claims "Better search results, Turbo-charged download speeds, Connect to more sources, Guaranteed no ads or nagware, Special PRO only skin, Personalized support via email, and Free updates for six months." I have had previous experience with LimeWire Basic. This review is of LimeWire Pro, version 4.2.6.

I would strongly suggest that any prospective user / buyer of LimeWire first review the web site prior to download or purchase. Peer-to-Peer data sharing programs basically go out on the web and look for files, according to your search criteria, on other people's computers. File types in the main menu include "Any Type, Images, Documents, Audio, Video, and Programs." When found, the files are downloaded over the Internet to your computer. As you can imagine, there can be problems and issues. Files are not guaranteed to be good, uncorrupt, or even what they say they are, so it's "Downloader Beware!" You may inadvertently download ANY kind of file, including pornography, so you must be careful, especially if children have access. Software titles are also shared, and you may end up downloading retail software, thereby making yourself vulnerable to violating software copyright laws. LimeWire is a very fast and efficient Peer-to-Peer file sharing program, and it is amazing how much information is willingly shared on the internet.

Mac Requirements

  • Mac OS X (any version) or Mac OS 8.1 or higher (Note that the Mac OS 8/9 version is frozen at version 4.0)
  • Any Macintosh computer with the above OS
  • Internet connection (the faster, the better)
  • 7 MB of hard drive space (potentially more depending on what you are downloading)


This review was conducted on an Apple 500MHz G4 Cube running OS X 10.2.8 and on a 1.5 GHz G4 Aluminum PowerBook running OS X 10.3.6.

Installation
Download and installation were very easy and straightforward, and took very little time. The download is a .zip file which unzips to a disk image (.dmg) file, and the installer window opens up on your desktop. Just double-click the installer and LimeWire installs quickly and simply (it will overwrite a previous, older version, if you have one). I then took the LimeWire program icon, which is installed in my OS X Applications folder, and dragged it into the dock, where the Lime icon is ready whenever you need it. When you click the icon, LimeWire starts up and displays the main LimeWire Open Window.

In Use
Once the main LimeWire Window is open, which takes about 30 seconds on a 500 MHz G4 to connect to the internet, (see Pict 1), you get a LimeWire "Tip of the Day" (enabled by Default) and you will see three main tabs across the top.


LimeWire main window

The "Search" tab is selected by default, and the search window is where you'll do most of your file searching in LimeWire. On the left side is a double-column window that allows you to select the type of file you are looking for: Any Type, Images, Documents, Audio, Video, or Programs. Below the search types is a "filename" input field and then a "Search" button.

I have been looking for an old rock and roll tune from the sixties titled "Laugh Last," so I clicked on the "Audio" button. Changing the search type also changes the search input fields. As soon as I clicked on Audio, instead of a filename field, three other fields showed up for Title, Artist, and Album. There's also a Genre popup menu that can be used to filter the search. For even more refining, you can click on More Options, and enter criteria for Track, Type, Year, and more. I typed "last laugh" into the Title field and clicked the Search button. Note, the word order doesn't affect the search. In fact, the criteria fields appear to be as helpful reminders of what to search for more than anything else, because the resulting search seems to combine all search criteria.

The center main window shows all of the internet "hit" results as they are found (see picture below). It includes information about the file such as the file Name, Type (mp3, wma, aiff, etc.), Size in KBytes, relative Speed of the source (Cable/DSL, Modem, T3, etc.), Bitrate of the music file on playback, relative Quality (4 star rating), and "#" which indicates the number of peers who currently are sharing that identical file.


Example of Search Hits

The more peers sharing, usually the faster and more reliable is the download. For example, if there's only one peer, and that peer disconnects before your download is completed, your download is halted and you'll have to wait until other peers are available. If there is a high number of peers sharing, then a few can drop off, but your download will continue, jumping from one peer to the next automatically without interruption. LimeWire does an amazing job of continuing downloads from one peer to the next.

The left window changes to a "Filter Results" window showing Genre, Artist, and Album hits from the internet. Clicking on one of the Filter Results windows will filter the center main window to display only that filter result type of file. If you see a file that looks like the one you're looking for, highlight the file with your mouse and click "Download" under the center window. A lower center window will open, showing the status of the download. You can select quite a few files to download simultaneously (default is 8, but you can increase it in Preferences), and when you exceed the limit, they will Queue up and download when others complete. As files download, they go into your "Incomplete" folder (by default), and when they complete, they are Verified by LimeWire and placed in your "Shared" folder (you can change these parameters in Preferences). You should be aware that files in your Shared folder are available to other people on the internet to download by their Peer-to-Peer software, via your LimeWire program, so you should be careful to have only files that you are willing to share with others in your Shared folder. You can turn this off under LimeWire preferences, by changing the Uploads Slots to zero.

The bottom of the main LimeWire window shows how many files you are sharing (i.e. how many files are in your Shared folder). There is also a "LimeWire Media Player" at the bottom of the main window, so you can play an Audio file to see if it is the one you really wanted (or you can play the mp3 files in iTunes by double-clicking them). Note that while your initial search is ongoing, you can change search criteria and do more searches. Each one will have its own tab with your search filename in it on the main center window.

The right-most "Library" tab on the Main window shows the files that you have downloaded and provides "Play List" and playback features. I do not use the playback features much as I prefer to use iTunes, but they are convenient on the window. The left top window shows the folders that you can look at, the "Shared" folder, the "Saved Files" folder and the "Incomplete Files" folder.


LimeWire Library

The center "Monitor" tab allows you to view "Incoming Searches" from other peers on the internet, and active and queued "Uploads." On the Macintosh version of LimeWire, if you Quit LimeWire, it immediately kicks off anyone who is downloading from your computer and Quits LimeWire. Again, you can change this behavior under Preferences to shut down after all ongoing downloads have completed (no new downloads are permitted to start) to be kind to your Peers.

Although I use LimeWire primarily for music downloads, you can also find excellent movie trailers (using the "Video" tab) and program files using the "Programs" tab. I clicked the "Programs" tab and entered "Mac OS X," and before long, there were almost 500 filenames in my main Search window. The "Filter Results" change to "Media" (Audio or Programs), "Type" (such as .dmg, .gz, .sit, or .zip) and "Speed" (again, Modem, Cable/DSL, T1, T#, etc.). Note that many of these program files are NOT public domain, and you might be infringing on copyrights if you download them.


Searching for Mac OS X programs

LimeWire Pro does seem to be noticeably faster than the free "Basic" version. You can see the speed qualify by looking down at the bottom left of the LimeWire window. The quality that always showed up for me is "TurboCharged", and that's how it felt.

Also, version 4.2.6 has a "Resume" button under the "Search" download window which you can click on to re-start a download (it will search for additional sources) if it has stopped for whatever reason. Sometimes downloads are interrupted due to internet access problem or peer shut down. In previous versions of LimeWire, it was difficult to resume these downloads, and often unreliable. In LimeWire Pro 4.2.6, this function is very reliable and works quite well.

LimeWire Pro 4.2.6 is an excellent program for finding files on the internet, and I have experienced only a few problems with the program. During my review testing, I did have the program hang once on each of the computers I tested on. The hang only occurred when I was stressing the program with 20 or 30 simultaneous downloads. On the positive side, under OS X it was a simple matter to Force Quit and then re-start LimeWire. The nice thing about LimeWire is, when you re-start, it picks up where it stopped - the incomplete files continue to download from where they left off.

Another quirk I noticed with LimeWire Pro 4.2.6, is if I try to download a file with the same name (even if some of the letters are a different case) after one has already downloaded into my Shared folder, it wants to overwrite the existing file, even if the size is different. Previous versions of LimeWire treated files with the same name but of different size as different files (e.g. you might want the same file but at different bit rates). I could not find a preference in 4.2.6 pro to change this behavior. To get around the problem, I had to rename or remove the first file from the Shared folder to download the new file.

Summary
LimeWire is by far the best Peer-to-Peer file sharing program that I have used. The LimeWire web site (
www.limewire.com) states that LimeWire is "Faster than Kazaa and No Bundled Software, No Spyware, No Adware, No Trojan Horse, Just Pure File Sharing", and the product lives up to the claim. Files are found and downloaded quickly using LimeWire Pro, the user interface is clean, friendly and intuitive. The downloaded files go where you want them, and there are plenty of preferences to change the way downloads and uploads behave. You do need to be conscious of what you are doing, because files you download might not be what you think they are, and you might not have the proper copyright or authority to use the program or file you download. Also, when you allow the upload slots to be greater than zero, once you have LimeWire up and running, someone is probably downloading from your computer and using up your "upload" bandwidth. While the internet newbie needs to be cautious with LimeWire (or any Peer-to-Peer program), the internet savvy will love LimeWire Pro. It provides speed, reliability and download robustness that makes finding and downloading files from the internet a walk in the park.

Pros

  • Excellent Peer-to-Peer file sharing program
  • Fast searches with multiple hits
  • Fast downloads
  • You can download ANYTHING (filters are provided)
  • Easy to use, intuitive interface
  • Inexpensive
  • Free Basic version to try before you buy


Cons

  • You need to know what you are doing as far as file sharing and copyright issues to stay out of trouble
  • You can download ANYTHING (parents beware)
  • Experienced some (very minimal) hangups


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice