What is a UseNet ?
The internet before the internet existed. Usenet was conceived in
1979 and publicly established in 1980. It was created more than
decade before the World Wide Web and makes it the oldest computer
network communication network. Usenet is distributed among Universities, Businesses and Internet Service
Providers who operate NNTP (Usenet) servers that exchange and mirror messages with each other posted by
so-called news feeds.
Each message posted to a usenet system has header metadata and a message body (that contains content).
Binary posts often consist of files that have been split and encoded into tens or hundreds of messages.
Headers contain information like: a universal message ID, group, subject line, date/time data. It's the
email equivalent of subscribing to a mailing list, where all messages are available to all that have access
to the list.
The major set of worldwide newsgroups is contained within nine hierarchies, eight of which are operated
under consensual guidelines that govern their administration and naming. Social structure of Usenet is one
very similar to 4chan. The current Big Nine are:
- comp.* – computer-related discussions (comp.software, comp.sys.amiga)
- humanities.* – fine arts, literature, and philosophy (humanities.classics, humanities.design.misc)
- misc.* – miscellaneous topics (misc.education, misc.forsale, misc.kids)
- news.* – discussions and announcements about news (meaning Usenet, not current events) (news.groups,
- rec.* – recreation and entertainment (rec.music, rec.arts.movies)
- sci.* – science related discussions (sci.psychology, sci.research)
- soc.* – social discussions (soc.college.org, soc.culture.african)
- talk.* – talk about various controversial topics (talk.religion, talk.politics, talk.origins)
- alt.* - The prefix "alt" refers to the fact that it is a "hierarchy that is 'alternative' to the
'mainstream'. Unlike most of the other hierarchies, there is no centralized governing body and anyone who
is capable of creating a newsgroup can do so. You could see it as early stage Reddit where most of the
content is created by it's users.
Why to use a UseNet ?
In present time, most people utilize Usenet as one file sharing platform or as a torrent alternative. As you
might know, to download something with torrents, you need an application called a "Bittorrent client" and a
place to find the torrent files which points to the files you want to download. UseNet downloading is pretty
much identical. You need a program to download files and a place to get the files that point to what you
want to download. The difference here is that you need a program made for Usenet, and not bittorrent, and
you need files called nzb files rather than torrent's.
The process of downloading files is slightly different. When you’re using bittorrent, you are connecting to
many other bittorrent users and downloading the files you want from them. That's why it's called
peer-to-peer. At the same time you also share the pieces of the files with others, which means you both
download and upload the files. Someone also needs to have the complete original file and be sharing it in
order for you to be able to get it.
Meanwhile Usenet stores your files in multiple servers which makes Usenet superior to torrents in terms of
speed. The good servers will usually be as fast as your network can be, so downloads are very quick. Since
you don't have to upload files while downloading, you will be saving your network speed. Which also means
that you’re not dependant on other people with poor internet connections to share the files either. Most
good Usenet providers can give full speed almost anywhere on Earth.
The biggest drawback of Usenet when compared to bittorrent is the cost. There are some free options, and
some Internet Providers offer usenet plans, yet these are usually very limited in speed and the amount of
files they have available. The prices vary a lot depending on how long you want the servers to keep files,
how fast you’d like to download, how secure the download is, and how much you’d like to download each month.
Most Usenet servers can't keep files forever, since they have a limited amount of space to spare with so
many files are being added each day. Which means, of course, that they delete the old files. That’s where
file retention period comes in play. This has become less of a problem over the past few years though, as
Usenet servers now usually keep files for several years. It might sound bad that the servers delete the
files, but all that is needed to get the file back is for someone to upload it to the server again and it
will stay for as long as the server keeps it. This compares favorably to torrents because many old torrents
get forgotten and no longer supported by people, so you can't download them at all.
One of the worst problems with bittorrent is the lack of security. Since everyone is downloading from
everyone, only the most advanced and careful of users protect themselves against people who are out to get
them or to punish them. You can use some systems on bittorrent to protect yourself, but these are usually
either expensive or they slow down your download speed a lot.
Most Usenet servers offer reliable security. Since you are downloading from a specific server rather than
from everyone, you also avoid sharing your IP address in P2P network with other people which is a big bonus.
On the other hand, a Usenet server is only as secure as the company that owns it, and that is something you
should keep in mind.
The main differences between services are cost, physical server location, bandwidth, days of file retention,
and takedown policies.
Cons and Pros of Usenet vs Torrent
Biggest advantages of UseNet are:
- Speed of downloading,
- Privacy - if you live in a place where torrent usage is blocked or legally prosecuted,
- Easinies to file access comparing with closed community private trackers (torrents).
What you need to get started
- Usenet provider. In order to get access to files on usenet, you must use a provider to download those
files. Providers are servers that store content on usenet and allow you to download said content. When a
file gets uploaded to a particular provider, other providers will download that file from the server it
was uploaded to. Theoretically, all providers should have the same content because of this, however in
practice there are differences.
- Downloader. The 2 most popular options are Sabnzbd and Nzbget. Sabnzbd is better suited for newcomers. Choose Nzbget
if you are an advanced user and would like to choose from plenty of customisation options.
- Indexer. Now to get files from your usenet provider you need files that have the .nzb extension so
that Sabnzbd/Nzbget can download them. Think of them as torrent files. Mostly used indexer is Nzbgeek. They give you first 2 weeks for free and you don't need to
give payment details for the trial.
- (Optional, but suggested) A tv PVR and/or a movie PVR. Simply put, these are media search and management programs which can help you to automatize all downloading process. For TV choose Sonarr and
for Movies Radarr.
How to install and use any of the mentioned programs, you can find guides at the bottom of the
Suggested Usenet Providers
In total, there are around 13 Usenet Backbone providers and more than 50 different Resellers. Out of these, we chose to review a couple those which currently stand out due to the longest retention periods, the highest number of connections, competitve prices as well as employ the best practices in the industry.
Newsgroupdirect has a biggest Usenet backbone provider - "Omicron" and offers
best services in the industry:
- 3,849+ days of binary retention
- 50 Connections
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- 7.95$ Monthly / 75$ Yearly
- Block Price ~(50GB/9$ - 500GB/35$)*
- 15 Day Money Back Guarantee
- Ghost Path VPN Acesss +
- Servers Located: US, NL, DE
- Free Trials for US customers