Mininova, one of the most popular BitTorrent search engines just passed the 1 billion torrent downloads mark. We had the chance to do an exclusive interview with Niek, one of the founders of mininova.
TorrentFreak: When did you first learn about BitTorrent?
Niek: I guess that was somewhere back in 2003. Rob, one of the other Mininova staff members, pointed me to a new kind of P2P protocol, named BitTorrent, and soon thereafter I became a regular visitor of websites like Torrentse.cx, Lokitorrents.com, Bytemonsoon.com and of course Suprnova.org. Those websites are all dead now (the first two disappeared suddenly after running a successful donation round…), but they have to be credited for setting the first steps in building a torrent search engine.
TorrentFreak: When and why did you decide to start mininova?
Niek: That was back in December 2004. Andrej decided to take Suprnova down, which was a very popular torrent website at that time (although not as popular as the top-3 BitTorrent sites individually nowadays). As one of the regular visitors of Suprnova (and a programmer myself), I decided to code a new torrent search engine. Erik, Jos, Matthijs and Rob joined me, and we released the first public version of Mininova on January 15, 2005. My poor DSL line couldn’t handle the bandwidth the site was generating, but luckily Gottfrid of ThePirateBay offered us a hosting account. Well, the site got way too popular, so we had to look for a new hosting place. We temporarily moved to Gary of isoHunt, but it didn’t took long before we got our own set of servers. Since that time, Mininova have seen continuous growth in both popularity and content.
TorrentFreak: Did you ever expected that the site would be such a great success?
Niek: No, definitely not. Of course we hoped that Mininova would become a success, but not of this magnitude. Who would have thought that Mininova would become more than two times as popular as Suprnova was on its peak days?
TorrentFreak: What do you think the future will bring for BitTorrent, and BitTorrent sites?
Niek: In the previous years we’ve seen additions like DHT, encryption and other enhancements to the BitTorrent protocol. I think we’ll see some other nice enhancements in the future (maybe TCP/UDP hole punching?). Also, BitTorrent sites keep innovating new features, and I’m happy to see we’re (one of) the leader(s) in this area.
TorrentFreak: Are there any future plans or developments you want to share with our readers?
Niek: We just released our new site with many new features, but we’re already planning and prototyping new features for the next version. Of course we’re always open for feature requests, so in case anybody got a great idea: please mail us :)
TorrentFreak: What keeps mininova in the air?
Niek: This is our current server setup:
Our staff consists of 5 administrators: Erik, Jos, Matthijs, Rob and I. And of course we couldn’t be anywhere without our dedicated group of moderators!
TorrentFreak: Do you get a lot of DMCA takedown notices? And how do you handle these?
Niek: I think we get on average 2 or 3 removal requests per day. We handle these with care according to our copyright policy. I’m happy to say we’ve never had any problems in this area.
TorrentFreak: What makes mininova stand out compared to other BitTorrent sites?
Niek: The simplicity, the speed, the no-nonsense design and functionality. And of course the new features, which we keep inventing, to improve usability. I guess we also have quite a few users due to our family safe policy, we don’t allow any pornographic torrents on our site.
TorrentFreak: What are you doing when you’re not working on mininova?
Niek: Keeping a website of this size running requires quite some time. But in my spare time I’m socializing with friends, studying, hanging out in the pub, and all the other kind of things guys of my age tend to do ;)
TorrentFreak: Anything to add?
Niek: Thanks for the interview; I really appreciate the time you take to run TorrentFreak. I think it’s a good addition to the (not always very objective) journalism on torrent sites.
TorrentFreak: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.