The Idiot’s Guide to Downloading Things on IRC

It’s basically Glued to the Screen but with a broader remit.

Please follow the instructions EXACTLY. It might look daunting but I promise you it isn’t tough. There is a comment box down the bottom for any questions you might have. It’s time to dive into the murky world of command line prompts!

Step 1 – Getting an IRC programThe one we’re going to recommend to you and do all our instructions in is mIRC because it’s decent and it’s free. You can download it from here. Install it. When you launch it it may ask for a donation, it will still work if you do not. When you install, just say yes to everything.


Step 2 – Setting up your IRC program

The first time you run you’ll be confronted with an option box. Fill in the name and e-mail bits and give yourself a nickname. Keep “invisible mode” checked.

You will need to change the server. Click on the “servers” option on the left. In the list, find the one called IRCHighway. Double click on it and highlight “random server”. Click Select.

Whilst you’re in the options, click on the plus sign next to DCC on the left and click on Ignore. In the box you see, type *.avi and click add. Otherwise you won’t be able to download any avis, which would be bad. You will also need ot tell it where you want it to download the files to, so click on ‘Folders’, click once on the top line (marked ‘default’) and click Edit. Click on the first button and find the place you want to save the files to. You can click on OK now.

You are now ready to connect! If you’re still in the options, click on the “connect” tab on the left then the “connect to server” button. If you’ve clicked out of the options, click on the lightning strike on the top left to connect.

Step 3 – Registering

Congratulations! You’re now connected. Lots of things will flash up on screen, and happily you can ignore all of it. You’ll also be faced with a “favourites box” – we recommend unchecking both options and getting out as soon as, you won’t be bothered by it again next time. However, the IRC channel we want to join requires registration with the server, so now we’re going to register. This is pretty painless.

  • type in /nickserv REGISTER Password your@email

You’ll be sent an e-mail to respond to. For password we mean your choice of password, and for your@email you put your e-mail address in. The server knows to associate it with the nickname you are logged in with.

Now check your mail, you’ll be given an instruction – copy and paste it in without the quotes. Voila, you’re now registered! You will only need to do this once. If you find yourself getting stuck (i.e. you HAVE NOT FOLLOWED INSTRUCTIONS), type /msg nickserv HELP or /msg nickserv HELP REGISTER for help.

What I want you to do now is to now disconnect (click on the broken lightning strike and close the program). From now on, you can jump directly to Step 4.

Step 4 – Get in!

Right, you’ve loaded up mIRC now it’s almost time for the good bit. If you’re faced with the options then click on “Connect to Server” (make sure it’s pointing to IRCHighway), if not then click on the lightning strike. You now need to identify yourself.

  • type /nickserv IDENTIFY YourPassword

It will tell you your password is accepted. Now…

  • type /join #survivor-central

Excellent! Now you’re only minutes away from downloading. The best time to go on is when the US is asleep – morning and early afternoon basically.

Step 5 – Downloading recent things

If you want to download something very recent, the best way to do it is through an !xdccfind.

  • Type !xdccfind What-you-want-to-look-for

Where What-you-want-to-look-for, obviously, is the name of the show you want to look for. If something is available, the server will make contact with you by asking if it’s OK to private message you. Click on “accept”. You’ll notice there’s a new tab up the top which you are now in. To get back to the main room at any point, just click on the #survivor-central tab. If there is nothing to be found then go to Step 6 below.

Now to business, you’re given a list of available files. Each file has an associated instruction – normally in red and always beginning /msg. Highlight the entire red instruction – when you highlight something you will automatically copy it, so go to the input bar and paste it in. Hit return.

It will ask you if you want to download it. Click yes. Voila! You’re now downloading the file. Easy! Wait for it to finish downloading (you can do things in other tabs in the meantime) then close and watch your show. You punish those Hollywood TV execs! We advise you wait thirty seconds between each search otherwise you may get a temporary ban and you’ll be kicked out for ten minutes.

Step 6 – Downloading things not on !xdccfindThis is a bit more involved.


  • type @find What-you-want-to-look-for

Where What-you-want-to-look-for, obviously, is the name of the show you want to look for. You’ll now get bombarded with private messages. This might feel like information overload but don’t panic. Have a look at each tab, it will show you want that person is offering that you are after. Does it look like they have what you want? If not, close it – right click on the tab then close. Do it for all of them. Hopefully, the ones left will have some statistical information up the top, the most important one is the queue – the lower the number the better, but if the queue is full you don’t have a chance anyway.

Found something and someone? Right. It will mention a “trigger” – this is a command to get into their file system. It will always begin /ctcp. Highlight (remember, it gets automatically copied) it all then paste it into your input bar. This should initiate a connection.

After a short pause you will probably get some sort of welcome message. OK, now you’re going to need to act quickly – after a certain period of idleness you’ll get kicked out.

  • First job, type dir. This stands for “directory” and it will show you the folders.
  • Found what you want? Then type cd and then the name of the folder. You must get it exactly right, use your highlight and paste trick if necessary. CD stands for Change Directory. I think.
  • Type dir again this will give you a list of what is in the folder. If it is a show which has had several series, chances are they will have their own seperate subfolder. cd to the one you want. Repeat this until you get to the files.
  • When you dir and get a list of files, type get and then highlight and paste the file you want.
  • If there is no queue, your file will start downloading automatically. If there is a queue, you’ll be told where you are in the queue. They might disconnect from you – don’t worry! As long as both you and them are connected to the IRCHighway server, they will initiate a download with you when there is a slot free. Just keep mIRC open in #survivor-central.
  • There are two more instructions you might find useful. If you want to go backwards, cd.. will take you up a folder level. If you find you don’t want something after all, trigger a connection and type clr_queues.

We advise you wait thirty seconds between each search otherwise you may get a temporary ban and kicked out for ten minutes.

Step 7 Speeding it up a bit

If you stay on #survivor-central, you can tweak the following options to speed up your filehunting – but we can’t guarantee your safety if you go elsewhere. You want “tools” and “options”.

  • On “DCC”, in the “on Send request” bit, select “Auto-get file” and check minimize. If file exists select resume. What this does is that it won’t ask if you want to download something when someone wants to send you a file, it will do so automatically so you can go away from the computer rather than wait for a prompt.

Step 8 – Grazing

Of course, once you’ve started you might try looking around people’s servers to see what interesting things they’ve got. In the main #survivor-central window (which is also a chat room) you see adverts for people’s servers pop up periodically. Each one has a /ctcp trigger. Why not trigger them off and see what you can find? Also, if you type !list you’ll get a long list of all the adverts.

And that’s it really, if you can pick it up you’ll find it quite a bit better than torrenting.

This article was originally written in 2007, the following comments were left in the comment box:


I just finished installing it, when my virus protection comes up saying the program carried a virus. Is this normal, and should it not be, can you post a link to somewhere that doesnt have a potential virus attached?

Brig Bother:
That’s interesting, mIrc should definitely not carry a virus, not if you downloaded it from one of the official mIrc mirrors. Which virus is it suggesting you have?

I actually unstalled my copy and downloaded and reinstalled so I could write the feature, my virus checker (Kaspersky, in case you wondered) didn’t come up with anything.

I’m clearly an idiot. I’ve just got a 10 min ban.

No fair

Brig Bother:
Ooh yes, I possibly should have mentioned that you have to wait thirty seconds between searching. I’ll add this this evening.

re: the virus thing… the latest editions of Norton are right twats… I couldn’t get on to mIRC at all using my parents’ PC, since Norton blocked every attempt. So, if you have Norton, that may be the problem…

Brig Bother:
I would consider doing a similar guide for X-Chat (which is (whisper it) my IRC vehicle of choice), but after three weeks you MUST register or you can’t use it which isn’t a problem mIRC has.

It’s definitely Virus and not Firewall, mmm?

After playing with it a bit, I’m very grateful you posted this up Brig. I doubt it will replace torrents for me, but I have been able to acquire Celebrity Mole Yucatan and Solitary, which I’ve been hunting for a long time!

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