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How LimeWire Works

        Tech | File Sharing

LimeWire Tips
Users can select their connection speed such as broadband or DSL.
Users can select their connection speed such as broadband or DSL.
Image courtesy of

The most common problem with LimeWire is a failure to connect to the Gnutella Network. Here are a few different ways to figure out whether or not you're connected to the network:

  • In the bottom left corner of the LimeWire screen are a set of connectivity bars. The more green bars, the better the connection. If you have only one green bar, you're not connected.
  • If you go to the Connections tab and all your connections are shown as "connecting," then there's something wrong.
  • If you conduct a search, but no results appear, even after a minute, then there's a connection problem.
  • If you see an icon next to the connectivity bars showing a globe behind a brick wall, then you're behind a firewall This usually isn't a problem for LimeWire, but you should double-check just in case.

Connectivity problems can be caused by several factors, which you should check in the following order:

  1. Open a Web browser and make sure you're connected to the Internet. If not, unplug and restart your Internet modem and any routers that are connected to it. If that doesn't work, you should call your Internet Service Provider. Once you've regained Internet connectivity, reopen LimeWire and try again.
  2. Try disconnecting and reconnecting to LimeWire. You can do this either by quitting and re-launching the program, or by going into the File menu and choosing Disconnect, then Connect.
  3. Popular Internet security programs like Norton, McAfee and ZoneAlarm can interfere with LimeWire's ability to connect to the Gnutella Network. You need to go into the settings of your firewall software and add LimeWire as an exception.
  4. You should also check any hardware firewalls, either on your computer or a router. The important information to know is through which port LimeWire communicates. Under the main LimeWire menu, go to Options, open the Advanced tab and click on Firewall Config. Take note of the "Listen on Port" number. Go into your computer or router firewall and assign that port number to LimeWire.
  5. Finally, check with your ISP or your system administrator if you're at work. Some ISPs and office networks block p2p file-sharing programs.

For those who only want to download non-copyright material, you have the option we mentioned before of filtering any content already on LimeWire's list of copyright files. Another legal tip is to only search for files with an open license. When you search for audio, for example, there's an option to show songs carrying the freely distributed Creative Commons or Weedshare licenses.

Another common complaint is that files download too slow. LimeWire's answer is that a file can't download any faster than the maximum bandwidth of either the uploader or the downloader. If you have broadband, but the person you're downloading from has dial-up, the file's going to download at dial-up speed. Also, if you're downloading more than one file at a time, or the host computer is uploading more than one file at a time, that's going to put a strain on bandwidth as well.

The best tip for speeding up downloads is to only choose files from high-bandwidth hosts and preferably more than one host. One of the features of p2p networks like Gnutella is that they can download pieces of the same file from many different hosts at once and reassemble the whole file on the downloader's computer. Downloading a song from eight high-bandwidth hosts should take less than 30 seconds.

If that doesn't help, you could always upgrade to LimeWire Pro, which promises faster download rates, or try one of the many third-party applications that claim to do the same.

OK, now let's explore whether or not LimeWire is really legal.