UPDATE: December 2012
Ares’ latest version is now 2.1.9. The client kept its open-source roots, but also introduced a lot of upgrades, including a built-in audio/video player, chat rooms, library organizer, etc.
Released in 2002, Ares was initially a Gnutella client but they soon switched to their own newly created Ares network. This network employed the SuperNode connection system that FastTrack had come up with. However, a major difference between the two networks is that unlike FastTrack, Ares uses SHA1, (the same as Gnutella) instead of a partial hashing algorithm.
Currently, Ares is a 100% free, simple and, you can say, reliable file sharing application. Its interface is pretty close to what Kazaa offers. Besides sharing files, Ares allows you to enter or even start chat rooms. The application is open source providing several variations, such as Ares Gold, Ares P2P 2.1, and Ares Galaxy Ares. Ares Lite is designed to be more resource friendly as the regular Ares uses approximately 20MB owing partly to it being written in the Delphi programming code. The Firewall to Firewall transfers is also a great feature which actually enables Ares to connect to the network in case your software or router’s firewall has your ports blocked.
A great feature of Ares is that it ensures unlimited searching on its own Gnutella-based network unlike other file-sharing programs. Yet, the thing with Ares is that it restricts only one search at a time instead of the multiple simultaneous searches offered by LimeWire, for example. Nevertheless, Ares found more than 265 unique hits on a generic search for cars which is a lot more than any other free p2p application will be able to find for you.
In addition to all the usual P2P features Ares provides a search window, an audio and video preview page, and an upload and download monitor. The control-panel page helps you to handling these controls without difficulty. As in the case of LimeWire, you can use Ares as a media librarian not only for the files you download or share but for your entire PC as well. Moreover, Ares has no spyware bundled.
Allegedly, the Ares network doesn’t have as many users as some of the other big networks have. For instance, ED2K has around 5 million users, Gnutella and FastTrack have about 2 million and though the exact population of the Ares network is not known most experts say the network has 1 million users. Ares offers limited but pretty good online support.