There are actually quite a few different ways that you can download files to your computer or even mobile device nowadays. People who download files are probably at least familiar with some of them: torrents, FTP, Usenet and filehosting sites. The latter file download source is quite popular: seemingly growing in reach and downloads month after month for the last several years.
However, even though people may be familiar with a download option, that doesn’t mean they know much about it, how to use it and the pros and cons of that particular option. Here I attempt to explain what filehosting sites are, the various options they offer and why you might want to use file hosting sites to download files.
What is a filehosting site?
As it pertains to this website and a lot of others, particularly in regards to multihoster accounts, a filehosting site is a website [server] that stores files that users upload that also allows third-party members or random visitors to download those files. For example, Tony T. uploads a file to a popular filehosting site, let’s say Netload.in. Once that upload is completed and Tony T. has the URL to the download page, he can share that link whereby other people can find the download page and download the file. Tony T.’s friends, like Susan Q. or Robert G. can download the file as well as just about anybody in the world so long as they know the link to the download page.
People have different motivations for uploading and sharing files, but download links from filehosting sites are prevalent all over the Internet. You’ll find them on blogs, in forums, on random websites, Tumblr, scene release websites and more places.
In some cases, files that people upload to filehosting sites for sharing with others are only available for a limited time, like 30-90 days. Filehosting sites are expensive to operate, and thus there are limits to how many files a user can upload, and there are definitely limits to how many files a user can download, at least without having a membership on a filehosting site.
All in all, a file hosting site is more appropriately called a filehosting and filesharing site because they both allow people to upload files and allow those files to be shared with just about anybody in the world.
The many names of filehosting sites
Filehosting sites have many names. Honestly, probably far too many for the casual user to keep track of. Filehosting sites have been called and are sometimes referred to as:
- File lockers
- Digital lockers
- Digital file lockers
- Digital storage lockers
- Filesharing sites
- File hosting and sharing sites
Likely amongst others that I can’t think of right now. Though people use different names to represent these sites, they all essentially mean the same thing when used in the ‘download files to your computer’ context: a service that allows users to upload and share files of various types with other people.
Examples of file-hosting sites
There are hundreds, if not thousands of cyberlocker services at any given time. Unfortunately, due to the legal ambiguity of downloading files online and the extreme costs of operating a popular file hosting site, some of them can come and go as quickly as the day changes to night. As it pertains to this website, however, services like Dropbox, Google Drive and Skydrive are not considered filehosting sites, though they are considered cyberlockers or digital file lockers. Most people will not upload the most popular videos, music, games or software to these services for sharing due to the legal problems it can create.
However, examples of filehosting and sharing sites that offer popular video, audio and applications for download include:
And many, many more. For the best value using filehosting sites to download files, I recommend checking out a multihoster service. You get much, much better access to more filehosters with much faster speeds.
Premium accounts – paid options for better downloads
By and large, most filehosting sites are free to use. At least, with some limitations. Those limitations, however, really are limiting, and just how limiting and even annoying those free downloads are is relative to how many files you want to download, which hoster you’re using to download those files and how big those files are. There are other factors at play, too.
Most, or at least a large number of filehosters that last a while online employ a paid membership option, which are called premium accounts. This paid membership option, while not necessarily necessary in all cases, can be the determining factor in whether a filehosting site is able to pay its bills, legal costs and hopefully be profitable for the website owner or shut down, sometimes abruptly without notice. I said it before, but I’ll say it again: filehosting sites are expensive to operate.
Revenue from advertisements isn’t always enough to support a website, especially with the legal gray area that some filehosting sites operate in. So, many filehosting sites that offer premium accounts give users an incentive to pay for better downloads: they limit download speeds, use captcha forms, delay downloads, limit the number of files or amount of bandwith that a user can use up over an hour or day, and the download pages are, of course, overrun with advertisements. Some users find it annoying or like filehosting sites are crippling their free services to get users to upgrade, and I have too on occasion, but I certainly wouldn’t want to have to pay thousands or tens-of-thousands of dollars or more per month without recouping that cost plus money for my time and effort. I speak as a website owner myself, so my perspective may be a different than a frequent file downloader who might not understand what it takes to operate a fast, massively-popular, resource-intensive website.
For people who only download small files or really don’t download many files at all, free downloads from filehosting and sharing sites are a good option. However, for people who want to enjoy faster or as-fast-as-their-internet-will-handle download speeds, parallel downloads, no nag screens with one-click, easy downloads – premium accounts from these digital file lockers are the way to go.
Premium filehoster account costs
Across the board, premium accounts from a filehosting site tend to run around $13 USD / €10 EUR per month for 30-day access or less, on a monthly basis, for 3 month, 6 month and yearly accounts. These are the standard term limits for premium accounts, though some offer daily, weekly or lifetime premium accounts. Which, I do not recommend ever buying a lifetime premium account from any filehosting service. Ever. That is, unless you have plenty of money where the $100+, usually, won’t affect you. There is too much risk in the industry to invest in a lifetime account from a filehosting and sharing site. I have no problem recommending a 3 month or even a 6-month premium account from a reputable filehosting service, but even then there’s still a risk.
Bundled premium accounts – best value for fast downloads
If you’re keen on using filehosting sites to download files, there is an option that is better than purchasing a premium account. This better option is a multihoster. A multihoster is a service provider that buys up and resells access to hundreds or thousands of premium accounts, and leverages their membership numbers to buy more premium accounts to stay profitable. I’ve been using this multihoster service since 2011, and overall I love it. I buy different account types based on the season as I only download certain types of files, but I have no problem recommending a 6-month or a 600GB download package and while this service has been online for years and always updating and active, I’d be hesitant to recommend a lifetime account here, though had I done that myself a couple of years ago, I would have spent less money on my high-speed downloads than I have buying accounts for a few months or bandwidth blocks for my summertime downloads.
Right now, the multihoster I recommend supports downloading from 80+ websites; ~50 paid, premium accounts, a few non-premium-but-limited download sites (Megashares, Mediafire, Putlocker) and a growing number of video-streaming sites like Youtube and others that can be accessed via a file download manager. All of these downloads from all of these websites using a single account. This is the power of using a multihoster to download files.
Filehosting sites: a good option for downloads
If you’re going to download files online, I recommend using filehosting sites versus torrents or most other HTTP/FTP download options. Downloading files via Usenet services can be pretty safe and relatively private, but for ease of use, cost, speed and reliability, I’d recommend sticking to file lockers.
If you start to find that your download activity is being crippled due to free download limits, however, I’d recommend either getting a premium account for the filelocker service that you download from most, or check out a multihoster like Linksnappy. You can’t beat the price when you’re paying the same amount of money for 80+ sites as you do with an individual premium account. Neither of these options are free, but they can provide a significant value if you download a lot of files.