Older than the internet, the Usenet is one of the original distributed networks. Still in wide use today, the Usenet now contains a huge number of messages and files!
In 2004, a site called Newzbin started indexing the files available on Usenet and created the NZB file format. A NZB file is the Usenet equivalent of a torrent file. Basically, a NZB file that just contains a pointer to files available on Usenet.
To get started with Usenet, you need to pay for Usenet access from a provider. You can expect to pay about $10-$20 per month for access. Most Usenet providers are re-sellers of the three largest providers: Readnews, Giganews and Highwinds.
There are four main features to look for when choosing a provider:
- Data Retention (how far their Usenet archive goes back — usually around 200 days)
- Monthly Transfer (the amount of data you can download each month — varies from 5 to 50 GB)
- Connections (the number of simultaneous connections you can make at a single time through your account — around 10 is fine for most people)
- Secure Connections (you may want a provider that provides SSL connections, so you can’t be snooped on)
Our recommend Usenet Providers:
Easiest To Set Up: EasyNews
Easynews is a great service for those getting started with Usenet. Their service is particularly easy to use because all your reading and downloading is done through a web browser — there is no need to download a newsreader program. They also have a 14-day free trial that allows you try out their service, and get comfortable with the Usenet.
Note, you can install a newsreader program and use it with your Easynews Free Usenet Trial account too – no need to sign up for a separate service.
Link: Easynews ($10-$30 per month)
Unlimited Access With No Frills: UsenetServer
Usenetserver is a good choice if you want a reliable, no-frills Usenet service and you are comfortable using NZB files to initiate downloads. Usenetserver offers great header retention (1568 days), good download speeds, and allows SSL connections. I tested their service for a month, and I found the service fast and reliable.
Link: Usenetserver ($10 per month)
Best Value: Astraweb
Astraweb is based in Singapore, and they are one of the few remaining independent Usenet Providers, meaning they do not draw from the Readnews, Giganews and Highwinds databases. Astraweb offers 1,550+ days of binary retention along with 1,095 days of text posts, and 256-bit SSL with 20 connections.
Astraweb doesn’t monitor their connections, so they are one of the only uncensored Usenet providers, however, this also means they are vulnerable to spam postings. Personally, I use them as my Usenet provider because they are uncensored.
Note that the “Unlimited Usenet” accounts from Astraweb are speed limited. If you want no speed limits, try their Unlimited DSL service — they have a special on their service for just ($11 $7.50 per month).
Link: Astraweb ($11 $7.50 per month)
Best Free Trail: Newshosting
Newshosting has perhaps the best Free Usenet Trail Accounts. They allow 30 GB download limit on their trial accounts, and they give you access to the same service as a regular account. This includes access to their newsreader that has a built-in index search, and the ability to preview videos if there is a message with video attachments. They offers SSL connections.
Update: The top tier plan from Newshosting is now linked with Easynews. This means that customers who subscribe to the Newshosting top tier plan will be able to login to Easynews and download files using the simple web interface.
Link: Newshosting ($10-$12 per month)