Places to keep up with news about Napster:
Napster - The Basic Stuff
Napster has recently begun blocking access to mp3s on its service as per a court ruling (read more in the FindLaw link on the left). Even though the free mp3-trading service will be going to a pay service in June or July, they have to block almost 200,000 songs immediately as part of an agreement with RIAA. Since it started blocking files, users have only been able to trade about 50% of what they once did, and as they (Napster, RIAA, you and me) continue to add files, sharing will be scaled down even more dramatically. Outlined below are a few ways for PC/Windows users to get around the block - but it should be noted that these work arounds aren't permanent, fool-proof, 100% always totally searchable, and that they aren't encouraged or condoned by Napster and its affiliates. At least some of them, however, will allow you to reclaim most, if not all, of the files you're sharing with other users. If you have no idea of what any of this means, keep reading!
You can also try a free program called NapEncoder. It's kinda buggy, but they're working on new versions constantly.
If you don't have the latest version of Napster, you can download it from Napster's site (PC and Mac versions available).
1. First None of these suggestions are fool-proof or permanent!
Figure out how many files you have. When you log in to Napster, check out the bottom left corner of the screen. It should say something like "Online (yourscreenname): Sharing XXX files" where XXX is the number of files. Remember that number.
Rename your files. How you choose to do this is up to you, but below are a few suggestions:
Add a couple of numbers or letters before and after the entire mp3 filename - "00" or "35" or "XX" (without quotes) or whatever you like, but not after the "version" of the song - i.e., if you have an mp3 called Sting - Come Down In Time (Elton John cover), add the numbers before the info in the parentheses.You might find it easier to add a couple of numbers or letters before and after the filename, since not everyone searches or knows to search all these recent variants.
If you have the latest version of Napster, you can rename your files by clicking the "My Files" button at the top, then right-clicking a filename and choosing "Rename File". If you don't have the latest version, open Windows Explorer and navigate to the folder that you keep your mp3s in. If you don't know what folder that is...
Click the "Start" button on the Windows toolbar, choose "Search" (or "Find") > "Files or Folders", set the search to look on drive C: (or whatever drive you keep your mp3s on), and type *.mp3 in the search field. Your computer will search itself and make a list of places mp3 files are kept on C: (or whatever drive you chose). Or...
Now that you've got all your files renamed...
Add yourself to your Hotlist. The list of files here are the files that Napster actually tells others you have available for download, that are searchable in Napster. When other users put you on their Hotlist, they can click your name when you're online and see what you have available to share.
In Napster, click "Actions" > "Add User To Hotlist", and type your username in exactly as you entered it to create your Napster account. Once you've done this, click the "Hotlist" button, double-click your username (or single-click, in older versions of Napster), and bingo, your file list is populated. Once it's populated, check out the bottom of that screen to see how many of your files are actually available to share.
After you've renamed all your files and checked your Hotlist, and you're still missing mp3s (i.e., there's a difference between what the bottom left corner says you're sharing, and what your Hotlist says you're sharing), you can use DOS to print a list to compare to your Hotlist.
Open DOS. You will automatically be at C:\WINDOWS>.
Once you've figured out which mp3s you're missing in your Hotlist, simply rename the files and right click the file list in your "My Files" or "Library" and choose "Refresh", and do the same in your Hotlist.
You'll have to test your renaming scheme to see if Napster is searching your renamed files or not. There are a couple of ways to do this.
Ask a friend also on Napster to search for one of your files - preferrably something with a unique name. If you have nothing unique, rename one of your files to something unique, refresh your file list, and ask them to search. If your name comes up in the search, Napster is searching your renamed files. Congrats! If your name does not come up in the search, Napster is not searching your renamed files. It's possible that the renaming scheme isn't adequate to dodge the block. Keep trying!
Comments and questions can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.