Comparison of P2P file sharing tools for LAN parties

When you organize or attend a LAN party, you probably want to exchange files with everybody on the same local network (LAN: Local Area Network). Using the Windows build-in filesharing is often problematic. There are a few programs that allow you to do this easier. Most of them require a server, which can be problematic for small-scale or dynamic LAN parties. In this post I will discuss a few peer-to-peer (P2P) programs that do not require a server. They typically find other nodes using multicast or broadcast.

Below a table with the applications I tested. You can also download the Excel spreadsheet.

software p2p dist.leech hashing cross prog.lang last update gui portable runs
Lanshark y n n y python 2007-09 gtk, ok y n
D-LAN y y y y* c++ 2012-01 qt, nice n n
p300 y n n y java 2009-01 java, ugly y y
FAP y n ? n c# 2011-06 win, nice n n
DC++ n y y y

Comments on the table headers

p2p: peer to peer, if “y” then no server is needed
dist.leech: distributed downloading, leech same file from multiple peers
hashing: make a fingerprint of each file
cross: cross-platform (windows, mac, linux)
prog.lang: programming language
gui: graphical user interface
portable: needs no installation to run
runs: if “y” then I encountered no major problems while executing the program


I like the approach taken by D-LAN, it is perfect when file fingerprinting (hashing) time is no issue supports optional fingerprinting. It installs a Windows service, which you can auto-start so file sharing can work even without logging in. But hashing takes a long time, so D-LAN is no good choice if you want to start right away (same for DC++). Note that D-LAN currently is only available for Windows, although they hope to have versions for Mac and Linux soon.

For a simple, easy to setup LAN party, Lanshark is perfect, and p300 could be useful but the latter doesn’t have a nice user interface. When you need remote control or remote nodes, or need a one-executable (one-file) tool, p300 is interesting.

DC++ (DirectConnect) is not a P2P filesharing tool and needs a server (hub), but I have included it here because it is often used on LAN parties. There are many different clients and hubs available for DirectConnect.

Lanshark and D-LAN do not update or autodetect its peers properly (tested with one Windows XP SP3 and one Windows 7 PC, both with firewall turned off). D-LAN depends on UDP multicast and does have a few open issues in that respect. FAP is promising but gave errors both on Windows XP SP3 and on Windows 7.


I advise p300. Its interface might be ugly but it works. DC++ is another good alternative if you don’t mind installing a server (hub).

update 2012-0307: D-LAN uses fingerprinting, but that can be turned off (see author’s comment below)


Evert geeft hier actuele en minder actuele commentaren over informatietechnologie, oude mythen, politiek, zijn persoonlijke belevenissen en wat hij nog meer leuk vindt. Evert heeft een MA politicologie en een MSc medical informatics.

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