I can't say I'm the best in the topic. I have Aol (not my choice, I hate it and discourage the use) and am in the country. My wiring isn't that great either (static on the phone lines in winter when it is flooded under the trailor). This can tell you that I have extremely low bandwidth and Aols software wastes a good percentage of it.
A few P2P filesharing services I've heard of are Napster (not free anymore), Kazaa, Limewire, and BitTorent. As I understand, with Bittorent, you have to upload files to download. I've never used Bittorent though. I have used Limewire and have been satisfied with it. I'm not too sure about Kazaa. I have read that if you get Kazaa, get Kazaa Lite. It's a cleaner install, with less (or no) ad-ware.
As I've noted, I'm not that knowledgable on the topic. I've never had enough bandwidth to bother downloading media. I have spent many hours waiting on downloads and left my computer online overnight to download some files.
Did I mention I hate Aol. I had a corrupted .idx file that got me to call tech support. The person there, after many other troubleshooting attempts, told me to defragment my hard drive. I don't think I need to tell people what defrag does. Obviously won't repair a corrupted file. I really don't like the fact that Aol installs software without my consent. If I wanted Realplayer on my system, I'd install it myself. I think it installed Quicktime too, but I'm not positive. I wonder how much it's installed that I'm unaware of. I should start a whole new thread on this topic.
i prefer soulseek over kazaa, simply because at kazaa there is no order when you want to find albums and such. and usually if you want to download something which is considered non-mainstream then you have better chances at programmes such as soulseek than kazaa.
i'm talking from experience ofcourse, i used before soulseek kazaa and audio galaxy, sure their interface looks better but it's not the main issue to take into consideration.
but hey, if you want to download MTV music then you can get it anywhere, so it doesnt matter which software you use.
I think I will try soulseek. I get pissed when I can't find sources to download from for the things I want, but there are 50 or so sources for that song I could just record off of the tv or radio. Downloading movies, videos, albums just aren't a consideration for my bandwidth. Mp3s alone take forever.
I'd highly recommend a BitTorrent client, specifically Azureus. Because the files have a central tracker, you're pretty much guaranteed that the files you download are legitimate. Also, you can get very good download speeds from it. (I've maxed out my bandwidth many times.) Azureus itself is open-source (so you know that there's no spyware), and it has a nice graphical interface.
I like ares, but I use bearshare more often. The thing is that there is no "one" ultimate file sharing network, because each of them have different files / speeds. Of course yo can find most popular files on any network, but some files are hard to find and require the searching of multiple networks.
I tried Soulseek and am very impressed with the musical selection. If I wanted to wait hours for my slow connection, I could download an entire albums from artists that are hard to find on the other services I've tried. I'm downloading a few hard to find songs as I type. (not all at once, in a qeue)
The best I've found is Acquisition, but it only runs on Macs. It's shareware, and I just went ahead and purchased, as it only cost a few bucks and was well worth it. You can organize the results in many different ways and run indefinitely many searches all at the same time. Both the searches and the downloads are very fast. In fact, it gives you the number of available users on the far right of the search; when you download a file with many sources, it downloads very quickly. I've gotten as much as twenty songs in a matter of five minutes. It also automatically imports into your iTunes library.
The only issue I'd bring up with it is that it caps the searches, and so will usually only find the more popular songs if you run a search with just the artist's name. If you're looking for a particular song, it's best to be as specific as you can possibly be. Another complaint is that there isn't much of a selection of orchestral pieces, aside from film scores. Of course, if you don't have a Mac, it won't do you much good. Still, a great program.
For torrents I am using utorrent as a client. Pretty small, doesn't require installation and works perfectly. I used to use Azureus, but I had some issues with it, can't remember details but it made me switch to utorrent.
As am I. I found azureus and uTorrent to be the only two clients generally accepted on any tracker. However, uT is more simple to use, more stabile and less complex in conjunction with the OS.
I am currently using uT version 1.77, and the 1.80 only against the bad ISPs (1.80 has better encryption, yet not blacklisted by the ISPs).
And uTorrent seems to run a hell of a lot quicker than azureus, probably because azureus is written in java and uTorrent is written c++.
Azureus vuze looks cool as well.
For p2p, I rarely use it but when I do I use frostwire.