The Internet is full of mp3s, movies and other free digital files, but where should you look? Here are 6 options for people who like their music free. The difficulty of the different services ranges from the very easy like Limewire and BitTorrent to the ultra complexities of Hotline. Also, don’t forget that the iTunes Store offers a wide variety of free educational AAC audio files.


This is the easiest program to set up. The installer has a quick interview that does all your settings automatically. It’s a good idea to search for high quality mp3s only (128 kbps and higher). Read our LimeWire tutorial for more info. The only bad thing is the interface is a little slow.

  • Content: Music, software & movies. I grabbed the Harry Potter movie overnight.
  • Speed: As fast as the person you are downloading from. Step aside dial-ups.
  • Platform: Mac & PC
  • URL:


Kazaa is the new Napster. It’s very popular and bombards you with advertising. They took the no-income Napster business model and added some advertising. Which means you will be dealing with a lot of pop-up ads. It’s slow and has lots of dumb people who misspell file names on purpose. Damn those Generation Y kids.

  • Content: was mp3s only
  • Speed: Slow. Grandpa will probably finish reading the newspaper before you download a full CD.
  • Platform: PC & Mac
  • URL:


Getting set up on this site is like buying drugs. You have to know people, who know where you are supposed to click. The secret is to click on the small satellite icon on the top right of their web page. Good site if you have a PC. Download those songs fast before the anti-Napster lawyers need a new target

  • Content: mp3s only, no video
  • Speed: Pretty fast. Takes about 30 minutes per album (12-15 songs).
  • Platform: PC only


The old Napster is dead. Every new technology or service needs a guinea pig to test the waters. Apple was the guinea pig when they introduced the Newton, the world’s first PDA, in the early 1990s. It failed, but 10 years later even 12-year-olds have Palm Pilots. Likewise, Napster was the guinea pig for free MP3 downloading. But every time those corporate lawyers shut one of these services down, 10 more take their place. Roxio, the popular CD burning software company purchased Napster and is a distant second to Apple’s iTunes Music Store. Napster’s crappy web interface can’t match iTunes.


iMesh has an average selection of music but lots of movies. Also, this is the first client we saw that downloaded EVERY file requested. A word to the wise: it installs a crapload of spyware. Don’t know what spyware is? Find out. iMesh is a good alternative to Limewire, but a big downside is having to uninstall the other spyware programs that come with it.


Hotline has every digital file your heart can desire. Movies and CDs before they come out in the theaters or stores, DVD’s like Girls Gone Wild, all types of games from Palm Pilot to PSX2 and even classified government documents. I found some old CIA and UFO documents. Who knows if it’s real or not. It sounds almost too good to be true, right? There is a catch. Unfortunately, there is a complicated setup process and a secretive Hotline subculture. Some people make a living running Hotline servers out of their houses. We did an in-depth set-up article so check it out if you are interested.

  • Content: Everything you could ever want.
  • Speed: Super fast but it depends what server you are connected to.
  • Platform: PC & Mac
  • URL:

WARNING: You might get arrested for stealing music. It’s also usually just easier to buy it. Less risk and better quality.