Is Limewire the fastest P2P file sharing software?

Limewire 4.1 screenshot click to enlarge

Date of review: February 2006

What are the reasons that Limewire became so popular on the PC and on the Mac platform?

It is probably the most popular client for the Gnutella network. This file sharing network quickly replaced the famous old Napster after it has been shut down and is now more popular than ever..

The new cleaned up Java interface in version 4.1  of Limewire looks way better than earlier versions. You know it's made for the business of exchanging files and nothing distracts from that goal.

Because it is written in Java it can be used on any Operating System where java can be installed. That includes Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Unix and Solaris.

This has also disadvantages. It needs Java to run. That means you should take care that you always have the latest version of Java installed on your computer and it's quite "resource heavy".

Another reason for it's success might be, that it doesn't tackle you with ad-ware, nag-ware or hurting colors. It just convinces with a clear and transparent surface for searching, downloading, browsing and collecting files.

The various improvements regarding network performance and downloading from multiple sources, deliver considerably more search results and faster downloads.

Version 4.1 has some nice additions that help you getting the job done.

Search features

First you can choose which kind of files you want to search for. You have a button array that gives you the following choices:

  • All Types
  • Audio
  • Images
  • Video
  • Documents
  • Programs

Limewire 4.1 Search Buttons

After selecting a file type other than the "All Types" search type, you see an array of search options. This fields depend on and varies with the type of files you have chosen above.

Limewire 4.1 Search Options

Filled in your search terms and having hit the search button, the field changes automatically to filter the upcoming results. That is very handy and it instantly offers an array of opportunities to filter the results.

Clicking on a line activates that filter and you see the changes immediately.

Limewire 4.1 Filter Options

Another interesting gimmick is the "what's new tab" below the search window.
It lets you search for files that have been recently added to the network.

Limewire 4.1 What's New Tab

The search results already tell you a lot about the presented files.
The first row tells you about the probability of a successful download. Four stars means that it is almost guaranteed to download that file while one star is the least likely.

A Blue stars tell you that the file resides within your local network and downloads very fast.

Limewire 4.1 Search result columns

The numbers in the second row above, tell you how many identical files are detected that can be used for download. As Limewire uses this files simultaneously it improves both reliability and download speed.

That means you should make your search and when you find items, take those with the most stars and the highest number of identical files found.

Downloading Files

There's not much to say about the download. Just choose a file and hit the download button or double-click that file.

A window below the Search result window opens and the downloads in progress show up.

Limewire 4.1 Download Bar


Information Bar

The info bar at the bottom of the window supplies you with the most important info at a glance.

In the  lower left corner you have a meter that displays the connection quality. The bars turn green or Blue when Limewire has connected to the network. If you move the mouse over the icon it gives you also a message like this.

Limewire 4.1 Info-bar Connection

To the right, you have an icon indicating if a firewall has been detected or not.

Limewire 4.1 Info-bar Firewall

Next icon tells you how many files you are sharing with the Gnutella network.

Limewire 4.1 Info-Bar Filesharing

The numbers beside the green arrows show you how many up and downloads currently are performed and at which speed.

limewire 4.1 info-bar up/downloads

The info bar alone gives you a good idea about what's going on regarding your network activity.


I would say, if you use Limewire with the default settings it is good for others but bad for you. Almost all of your bandwidth is spent for uploading files and very few for downloading. Per default, All your files are shared even if they are not fully downloaded and all your bandwidth is used for uploads.

So the first thing you have to to is configuring Limewire for your needs.

Go to the Tools > Options menu and set all options from top down to your needs. Take care that you don't cancel any file sharing but leave at least a few files to share with others.

Limewire 4.1 settings

As Limewire is open source software, you can expect that it gets updated quite fast. The last version 4.1 is maybe not the fastest, but certainly a very stable and a good p2p file sharing program.


  • Clean interface
  • No adware
  • No spyware (at least it seems so)
  • Downloads from multiple hosts (faster downloads)
  • Good search and filtering functions
  • You can customize most functions


  • Not enough protection against viruses because the Gnutella network is flooded with Junk. Especially watch out for files with the file size of 851,7, 69,4 or 0,00 Kb.
  • Maybe a tick slower than Morpheus.
  • May not run on Macs with the latest security updates.

Manufacturers Homepage: Lime Wire LLC

Platform: Mac (OS 8.1 or higher) / PC (Windows 98, 98SE, ME, XP)