Founded in 2011, AnonFiles.com became known as a popular hosting service that allowed users to share files up to 20GB without download restrictions.
As the name suggests, registering an account wasn’t required either; both up and downloading files was totally anonymous.
The same also applies to BayFiles.com, an affiliated file-hosting service that was launched by The Pirate Bay. Both sites launched around the same time and shared a similar design and identical features.
While AnonFiles and BayFiles had their ups and downs over the years, their no-nonsense approach attracted a steady user base. This included legitimate users but also people who shared a wide variety of shady or outright illegal content.
”Notorious Pirate Site”
Both sites had millions of visitors but AnonFiles stood out with over 18 million visitors a month. This popularity didn’t go unnoticed by rightsholders, who repeatedly flagged AnonFiles as a “notorious” pirate site.
In 2021, for example, the music industry’s anti-piracy watchdog RIAA reported the file-hosting service to the U.S. Trade Representative.
“The site rarely responds to notices and, as such, is widely used as a storage and distribution medium for numerous pirate sites, including those distributing pre-release content. The site does not provide any method of communication other than a web form, thereby limiting our ability to escalate,” RIAA wrote.
AnonFiles Shuts Down
Rightsholders and law enforcement authorities were not the only ones unhappy with the illegal content posted to the site. For AnonFiles’ operators, it caused major problems too.
The current owners purchased the site two years ago but didn’t expect the abuse to be so massive that the only option would be to shut it down. According to a goodbye message posted on the site, they simply can’t continue.
“After trying endlessly for two years to run a file sharing site with user anonymity, we have been tired of handling the extreme volumes of people abusing it and the headaches it has created for us.”
The operators tried to contain the abuse by setting up all sorts of automated filters and filename restrictions, taking thousands of false positives for granted, but that didn’t help much.
With tens of millions of uploads and petabytes of data, no anti-abuse measure was sufficient. And when the site’s proxy service pulled the plug a few days ago, AnonFiles decided to call it quits.
“We have auto banned contents of hundreds of thousands files. Banned file names and also banned specific usage patterns connected to abusive material,” the AnonFiles team writes.
“Even after all this the high volume of abuse will not stop. This is not the kind of work we imagine when acquiring it and recently our proxy provider shut us down. This can not continue.”
TorrentFreak reached out to the site, hoping to get more details on the types of abuse, but the operators didn’t immediately reply to our request for comment.
While the current AnonFiles team has thrown in the towel, the name itself may not disappear. The current owners dare someone else to buy the domain and give it a try. Whether the same applies to BayFiles.com, which has also gone offline, is unknown.