This guide is a collection of fundamental concepts found in the eMule FAQs and help files. It also contains some useful tricks I've discovered for myself or learned from various forums over the years.
I wrote it because there seems to be a lot of people here who don't understand how eMule works. I don't want users abandoning the program because they think eMule is slow. The way the credit system works on eMule makes downloads slow to start and slow to transfer at first. The enormous queues can also be discouraging.
Don't give up, stick with it. After you've shared for a while, you'll see how fast the 'Mule really can be. Also, you'll discover there's not many files that are out of your reach.
When To Use eMule?
It's a simple matter of using the right tool for the job.
Want a single song or a just few small files? Use Limewire or Ares.
Want large files and fast downloads? You already know what to do - use Newsgroups or BitTorrent.
Want a wide selection of movies, albums, programs and games? After a rare or old file? Looking for a P2P network that has great file retention? eMule is the way to go.
However, it's not always fast like Bittorrent, and it isn't as simple to configure as Limewire. You'll need to spend time learning how to set eMule up properly. Also, new users must realise that downloads won't just start immediately and complete in an hour or two. Not yet, anyway.
The Golden Rule: SHARE! eMule and the eD2k network rewards uploaders. The more you upload, the sooner you'll download.
Start your downloads and walk away - for a week. Some will finish overnight, some won't. Keep eMule running for as long as possible. The longer the 'Mule runs, the faster it gets.
Keep in mind eMule won't always max out your connection's download speed. When it comes to judging performance, the average download and upload rates are what you need to monitor.
If your client of choice can connect to the KAD network, then do so. There's more sources on KAD than you'll find on the servers.
Basic Network Configuration
This part is for the people who only get download speeds of 1 or 2K/sec even though thier client has been running all night.
Set your upload:download speeds to a ratio of 1:3. Ensure your upload speed only uses around 80% of your connection's total upstream bandwidth. Anything higher than 85% will most likely result in a choked connection, which slows your downloads to a crawl. Always allow room for the network overhead.
A decent upload speed on eMule is anything greater than 15-20K/sec. Anything less than that and your downloads won't be faster than 15K/sec on average, because your own client will reduce your download speed.
Depending on the eMule client you choose, the download:upload limit kicks in at different speeds. Some clients start limiting your downloads if the upload speed is less than 10K, some start at 12K, some at 15K.
Credit and Queues
The ed2k network share credit system works on a one to one basis. It favours people who upload before all others.
I'll try to explain how the credits work in simple terms. If you upload a file to user X, you earn share credits, but those credits only count with X's client. What you uploaded to X means nothing to the rest of clients on the network.
When you upload parts of a file to X, credits are added to your share rating on his client. The more credits you earn, the faster you'll progress through his queue. In a nutshell, you'll have to earn credits from a lot of clients by uploading to them. Only then will you get to download from many sources at once, and that's when you'll start seeing see truly decent speeds.
That's the downside of the ed2k network for people just starting out. The upside is the same rules apply to everyone. The payoff comes in the long run, once your client becomes 'known' by uploading to lots of other clients on the network.
Don't be discouraged if you're 3000th in line on some clients. Progression through the queues isn't one place a time, it can be in hops of 30 or 40, sometimes more. If you share properly and earn enough credits, you'll eventually go straight to the front of those enormous queues whenever you start a new download. That's the payoff.
Don't just try downloading one or a few files, put in a whole bunch at once. Anything between 8-15 files. More if your connection has a decent upload speed. When some files get queued, others will download.
When one download finishes, start another one. Keeping your 'Mule 'fed' with new downloads sometimes helps you to connect to even more sources for your other downloads.
Target your sources. Let's say you want to download a movie (a Star Wars film, for example). To move through the queues faster, share Star Wars related files. You'll have a better chance of earning credit with the people who are sharing the file you want, because they'll be downloading from you too.
If the sources of a file you choose to download are all 100% complete, be warned that particular download will probably be slow. This is because you aren't uploading file chunks to other users and earning share credits. You'll still get the file eventually, but this kind of download can be a very stop-start affair. Try finding a different version of the file that has some incomplete sources instead.
Use source exchanges to your advantage. Once you've downloaded about 20MB of a file, click on the shared files button and find the file in your shared files list. Right click on the filename and select Priority from the context menu. Set the file's upload priority to Release. Your client will now give upload preference to that file. You'll upload to more clients initially, but once those share credits kick in, you'll be downloading at max speed from more people. The trick is to take the long view - those who give, get.
Avoiding Viruses and Fakes
This part should be common knowledge to anyone who uses P2P networks. Best practice is to only use eMule verified link sites to search for software releases made by known cracking groups. Releases are usually packaged in a .RAR archive. The .RAR will contain an .NFO file, the program installer, the crack and either an .SFV file or an MD5 sum that you can use to check the download is genuine. NEVER use the eMule search results to download cracks that are "stand alone". Nine times out of ten, stand alone cracks carry a virus or trojan. Don't be a sucker.
eMule has a system that allows users to rate files, report fakes and make comments. If a file you are downloading has comments, check them out. If a file has multiple names, take a look at those too. Sometimes a file can be proven fake by the different names users have given it.
Many times, I've started downloading what I thought was an obscure movie that I've been after for ages. Once my client has connected to several sources, I've checked the file's names and discovered it's something else entirely.
For any newbie, I personally think eMule Plus makes an excellent starting point. After that, you can make up your own mind which flavour suits your needs best.
Before anyone asks "what is the best client?" there isn't one. I like StulleMule, some get best results using eMule Plus. Some people say MorphXT is the one. Others say the X-treme mod is best. Whatever client they settle for in the end, everyone is right. It's all a matter of personal taste. Experiment!
So there you have it. Don't get frustrated and give up just because you aren't getting instant satisfaction. Once you know what you're doing and pay your dues on the network, I guarantee you'll discover why eMule is so popular.