Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
It seems that Kazaa 3 includes everything discerning users have bemoaned in P2P software: flashing ads, spyware, and blatant attempts to pry your money away from you in online casinos. Think of it as the Las Vegas strip, except that everything that goes on inside Kazaa stays on your computer. The best thing we can say about Kazaa is that it's free, but so are better P2P apps, such as LimeWire. If you don't care about having information about your surfing habits collected and you don't balk at the blatant, seizure-inducing ads tailored to sell you stuff, you may like Kazaa. We'll pass.
Kazaa 3's setup is rather ponderous, mostly because of all the other software the program installs. On its Web site, Kazaa touts its lack of spyware and even lectures you on proper file-sharing behavior. Yet one of the installation dialogs specifically warned us that in order to deliver tailored advertising, the accompanying software from "The Best Offers and other partners" would gather information about the Web sites we visited. That's spyware no matter how fine you split hairs. This must-install software includes the Need2Find Internet Explorer toolbar, RXToolbar, Altnet's PeerPoint Manager, and something called InstantFind. Spybot Search and Destroy gave Kazaa 3 a clean bill of health, but we remain suspicious and encourage you to keep your antispyware apps current.
Uninstalling Kazaa, which unfortunately required using Windows' Add or Remove Programs control panel, left us less than certain we'd removed everything. Though we don't recommend Kazaa 3 to anyone, its interface is relatively easy to use--if you can deal with the flashing ads.
Like LimeWire 4.9 basic, the free version of Kazaa 3 won't search past its set limit unless you tell it to do so. Kazaa searches to the preset limit of approximately 200 hits, then requires you to hit the search button for more. In our generic search on the keyword cars, Kazaa came up with about 300 hits total. Not bad, but the vast majority wouldn't download correctly. Kazaa's network is littered with fake files and media files that open browser pages on their own. As with any P2P client, be careful what you download and be sure to scan your download with an antivirus app before opening the file.
Kazaa's playback window for previewing video and music files works quite well and didn't crash when playing incomplete files, as the Ares player occasionally did. Sharing is limited (we think) to the folder you specify (KazaaMy Shared Folder by default), and you can keep other folks from browsing that folder if you like. The My Kazaa library is a decent way to keep track of your downloaded files, but unlike Ares and LimeWire, Kazaa won't catalog the rest of the stuff on your hard drive.
Online support for the free version of Kazaa is vague on many subjects, but searching the Web should answer most of your basic questions about the program--and convince you that you're better off without it.