RapidShare is one of the oldest file sharing services still in existence—it began a solid three years before Megaupload. You might even go as far as to say that RapidShare was the first to come up with the shady business model that Megaupload perfected. Prior to the shutdown, Megaupload was bringing in $175 million in net income, which is pretty impressive considering it only had about 150 employees.
The way RapidShare works is certainly the worst thing about it. You want to download a file? You must first wait six minutes. You want to download another file? Now you have to wait 167 minutes. Once you’re done waiting for the download to start, it’s time to wait some more since you’ll be limited to about 200KB/s, maximum. If you don’t want to play the waiting game, you can always purchase a RapidShare subscription which gives you an allotted number of “rapid” downloads per month, starting at about $13. RapidShare really does go out of its way to make sure using a free account is absolutely intolerable.
On the plus side, you don’t have to battle with third-party ads or pop-ups. All of the page space is already taken up by RapidShare’s own subscription ads anyway. Also, since RapidShare requires its users to register (either with a free or paid account) in order to upload files, piracy is much less of an issue, though that doesn’t mean RapidShare hasn’t had its share of trouble.
RapidShare has been pulled into court on several occasions over copyright infringements, and despite a few preliminary injections that were later overturned by the higher courts, it has yet to lose big. Being headquartered in Switzerland, the Mecca for pirate and pirate-like sites, certainly helps, and thanks to the registration requirement for uploaders, judges consistently rule that RapidShare is not liable for its users’ copyright infringements.
Perhaps even more surprising is RapidShare’s strong political stance advocating internet privacy.