Getting Started with Usenet (a brief Q&A)

What is Usenet?


Usenet intimidates many people, if they have even heard of it.  It has always been known the first rule of Usenet is you don’t talk about Usenet, but the cats out of the bag now and it’s time to get involved. Usenet is an online service that is in a sense a massive message board system.  There are thousands of different message boards discussing a vast array of topics on Usenet and also boards that supports binary (file) posts.  This means there are EXABYTES of data available on Usenet, with the content base growing by Terabytes A DAY!  Even with all this Usenet has never really garnered mainstream attention the way that other file sharing services have, and that is in a way a good thing; but I’m going to make you want into the club!

What does a massive message board have to do with a media center?

That’s the golden question!  The great thing about Usenet is that for each post on these message boards, you can attach files.  And as you guessed it, people post all kinds of files on these message boards, including movies, music, pictures, books, and pretty much any other kind of file you are looking for.


How can I get into this content party?

Funny you asked, there are a few ways you can get access to Usenet.  The first way is to check and see if your current Internet service provider offers you with a free Usenet account.  I would stay away from these, however, as they almost all have restrictions on what boards you can access, how many connections you can have, and the amount of bandwidth that is usable.  The best way to access Usenet is through a 3rd party Usenet provider.  I am going to provide you with a short list of a few that I thoroughly recommend as I have tested and used these myself.

What things should I care about when evaluating Usenet providers?

Retention:  This is basically how long your provider stores the files on their server.  This is one of the most important factors because you want a lot of retention to be able to snag older, maybe less popular content.

Connections:  Connections basically means how many files you can download at a given moment.  One connection equals one file, so if you have twenty connections, you can grab twenty files at the same time.

Monthly limits:  You don’t want a limit in most cases.  If you are only planning on grabbing a few items here and there, a cheaper limited package may be for you, but if you are a media junky, you want to go unlimited.

Security:  Most of the major Usenet providers offer SSL security, and I would definitely pick one that does, just in case.

Support:  In most cases, there will be little to no reason to contact support, but it’s always good to know it’s available to you.

Suggested Providers

European readers?  Check here!

EasyNews – This provider gives you 20GB a month for $9.95 (includes free trial).  If you are a user that doesn’t plan on getting a ton of content from Usenet, this is a great provider.  They also offer rollover Gigs, which is pretty cool.  Includes SSL and all the standard features.  Great support as well.

NewsHosting – This provider gives you Unlimited GBs per month with 30 connections (30 files downloading at the same time) for the low price of $12.95.  They also provide SSL and all the standard features.  I like how this provider gives you 30 connections with 1039 days of binary retention.

UPDATE: Now NewsHosting is reduced to $9.99 and includes newsreader access check out our post here!  Great deal

UsenetServer – This is probably my favorite of the 3.  They give you 20 connections, 1000 days retention, SSL, unlimited GB’s all for the low price of $10 per month!  The support is great, and the availability is great.  I rarely find missing files on UsenetServer.  Would highly recommend this one.


It sounds like a hassle to look through board posts for files that I want, what else can I do?

That’s where this site comes in.  I am going to provide you with a setup that is 100% foolproof once in place.  I can almost guarantee that you will be amazed at how easy it is once all the pieces are in place.


Why do we have to pay to be able to obtain this content?

Let me answer that in short SPEED, SECURITY, and EASE OF USE… Now let me elaborate a little.

Usenet does unfortunately cost a few dollars per month to have access to it, but with this system, you can nearly cut cable with the exception of Sports lovers and other live broadcast items.  Not to mention, Usenet is FAST!  Unlike Bittorent which relies on other users to share their upload bandwidth with you, Usenet relies on server farms to house the data, which is what you are paying for.  You can max out your Internet Service Providers bandwidth with ANY file you download from Usenet, not just the most recent movie that has 1,000,000 other users sharing.  Couple this with the ease of using applications such as Sickbeard and CouchPotato, add to this the speed and the fact that Usenet is also VERY secure…  You really can’t go wrong..

Am I safe downloading from Usenet?

Unlike Bittorent, which has garnered itself negative attention over the last few years with many lawsuits out against its users with P2P allegations.  Usenet doesn’t have these problems!  The way Usenet is setup; there is no peer-to-peer file activity so you are never liable for sharing a file with another human being, it’s all downloaded from Usenet servers, which is why you pay the provider.  Also, most Usenet providers are also SSL secure, adding an extra layer of protection onto your transfers for those who are still worried.

Ok I have my provider now what?

There is a multitude of ways that you can now access your Usenet account and start exploring.  The way that I will be discussing the most is a nearly hands off approach, meaning that you wont ever need to manually search for a file on a board and waste countless amounts of time browsing through all the “scene” mumbo jumbo.  This will be the simplistic approach to Usenet.  For reference I will include information in another post about access Usenet manually on a Windows and Mac client.


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