How to Use XDCC (Search and Download)

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Complete Guide to XDCC

XDCC (Extended Direct Client-to-Client) protocol is an extension of a DCC protocol used in IRC (Internet Relay Chat) to enable users to connect and exchange files (or chat messages). XDCC has lifted the limitations of the original DCC protocol by removing file size limitation and allowing batches of files to be transferred.

To put it another way, XDCC allows you to obtain and share content on IRC in ways usually more associated with torrent file-sharing or Usenet.

IRC has dwindled in popularity over the last few years. However, similar to Usenet, IRC is now enjoying a resurgence, thanks in part to the privacy and security advantages IRC offers.

XDCC file sharing is a solid choice for download enthusiasts and has its advantages. In particular, this method has a deceiving appearance. While being quite easy to use, at a glance it seems overly complex and thus turns off many potential users and traffic surveillance parties alike who simply don’t give it any notice. This provides the users who do make it their downloading method of choice with a little extra security padding.

XDCC is fast. It is not unusual to max out your Internet connection with XDCC’s download speeds.

XDCC is private too. In contrast to torrent file-sharing, with XDCC you are sharing your connection with a 1 peer, the operator of the XDCC server. This makes you less susceptible to download monitoring.

Top Tip -To be as protected as possible, we strongly advise our readers to employ additional measures to stay safe and anonymous online. Using a trusted VPN service, such as Private Internet Access, will not only keep all your traffic encrypted and anonymized but also prevent potential problems, such as XDCC transfers being blocked by your ISP’s firewall.

How XDCC Works

IRC spans a network of thousands of servers, each hosting a number of chat rooms. Some of them are dedicated to file sharing, populated by bots offering files for download. A user can request the desired file from a bot by sending a special request command as a private message. The tricky part is actually finding the bots that have the files you’re looking for, because regular search engines will not index these sources in their search results.

Fortunately, a number of specialized search engines have been developed, such as ixIRC.com or SunXDCC.com. A search on one of these engines will provide you with the IRC network, channel and name of the bot, as well as the identity number of the desired file. You can then use that information to connect to the channel via your IRC client (see below) and request the file from the bot.

Configuring mIRC

mIRC is by far the most popular “client” (software app) for using IRC and it’s free. After downloading and installing mIRC, available at http://www.mirc.com/get.html, you will need to take a few simple steps to ensure your XDCC downloads run smoothly.

  1. Open the Options and select Connect section. Enter your main and alternative usernames. We recommend using fake name and e-mail address for privacy reasons.
  2. Select IRC section. Check the “Rejoin channel when kicked” box.
  3. Go to DCC section. Check “Auto-get file” and select “Resume” if file exists.
  4. Go to DCC Ignore subsection. Select “Disabled” method and uncheck the “Turn ignore back on” box.
  5. In the DCC Folders subsection you can select the destination folders where you want to save the downloaded files.
  6. Press OK to save the settings.
mIRC XDCC image

Figure: mIRC can seem a muddle, but a chat room exists for almost every topic imaginable

How to Download from XDCC

First, navigate to the search engine of your choice and enter the desired file name. As mentioned above, the best specialized XDCC search engines at this time are ixIRC.com and SunXDCC.com. To find others, visit your favorite search engine and type “XDCC search”.

Search results will contain a list of bots hosting the desired file, containing their name, channel and network, as well as the file packet number. Some of the search engines have the functionality to start your mIRC client and connect to the selected channel automatically.

If you choose to connect manually, you will need to input the server name into your mIRC client. To do so, open mIRC options and select Servers under the Connect section. Add the server name you saved from the search engine listing. Then select the server and connect. In the popup window, select the desired channel. You can check the “Open a new connection” option to download multiple files at once.

Once a connection has been established, use the following message to request the file from the bot:

 /msg [FST]-xxxx xdcc send #n

where /msg is the IRC command to send a private message, [FST]-xxxx is the bot name you copied from the search engine result, xdcc is the protocol name, send is the file transfer request and #n is the packet number. If all goes well, your download will start immediately.

Possible Issues

If you have taken the steps above but your download doesn’t start, there are several possible reasons for that.

  1. You have been placed in the queue, because all the download slots are occupied. You can either wait a little while longer or try a different bot from the search results list.
  2. The bot is overloaded because too many users are trying to access it at once. We don’t recommend repeating the request over and over, as that will only make the situation worse. Instead you should wait a few minutes and try again.
  3. The bot has gone offline. If this is the case, you will usually get a message in the chat window, telling you that your message was not delivered. You can either wait for the bot to come back online, or try a different bot.
  4. Your personal firewall app is blocking DCC traffic. In this case you will need to configure your firewall to allow XDCC downloads. Usually, a window will pop up upon the transfer attempt and ask if you want to allow such traffic in future.
  5. Your ISP may be blocking DCC traffic. To sidestep this problem, we strongly suggest using a reliable VPN service, such as Private Internet Access (it costs barely $3 per month).
  6. You receive a “You have a DCC pending, Set your client to receive the transfer. (*xx seconds remaining until timeout)” It’s likely that your IRC client is not configured properly. We recommend going through the configuration steps described above to make sure you have the right setup.

If your download started correctly but was interrupted, that could mean that the bot has gone offline during the transfer (bad luck). You can either wait for it to come back online – most XDCC bots support resuming downloads – or try to request the same file from a different bot.

It could also mean that you violated some custom channel rule. For example, sometimes a bot will ask you to join a different channel after sending you the requested file. If you fail to do so, your download will be interrupted.

If your download has completed successfully but you received the wrong file, this means the search engine’s result was outdated and you should try a different bot. Hey, sh!t happens.

XDCC downloads are usually very fast, but if you think your speed is too slow, you can try switching to a different bot. It may have a more favorable location and/or lighter traffic.

Conclusion

XDCC may be two decades old but is still a reliable and fast way to get the content you love. All you need to do is:

  • get a DCC/compatible IRC client such as mIRC,
  • use a specialized search engine to locate the files you want,
  • connect to the bot.

To stay anonymous and secure, and avoid possible complications with your ISP or other third parties, we also recommend using a reliable VPN, as with all your other online activities.

 

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