Getting Started with Usenet
Why Use Usenet?
If you’ve never heard of Usenet before or are still unsure of what Usenet is, I highly recommend reading the Wikipedia article on Usenet. The article does a great job explaining the technical side, the past history, and future of Usenet.
The main aspect of Usenet I’m going to discuss is Usenet’s ability to download files. Compared to alternatives, Usenet shines in this area:
- Fast Downloads: If you have a good Usenet provider, your download speeds will max out your internet connection. Even 50Mbps+ FiOS connections can max out on Usenet downloads.
- No Uploads: The centralized server structure of Usenet does not require uploading. You can download as much as you want and never have to worry about uploading a single file.
- Search Easily: Finding files on Usenet is extremely easy thanks to a number of websites that index Usenet content.
- Privacy: Many Usenet providers offer SSL encryption options and downloads are always anonymous.
Choosing a Usenet Client
If you’re interesting in getting started with Usenet, the first step is choosing a client. A good Usenet client will handle everything for you, so by the time a download is complete, your file is completely extracted and ready for use. I have three software recommendations that fit the bill for each platform:
There are many other clients that each handle Usenet a little differently. If my recommendations don’t work for you, I encourage you to check out many of the other Usenet clients out there.
Choosing a Usenet Provider
Several years ago, Usenet servers used to be provided by your ISP. Unfortunately those days have long passed, and even if your ISP still offers a Usenet server, it’s most likely crippled beyond belief. Thankfully, many great Usenet providers have stepped in to fill the ISP shoes. By specializing in one service, Usenet providers out there are typically way better than anything an ISP used to provide.
My personal recommendation for a Usenet provider is Giganews. They provide over 600 days of retention (how long a file remains on a Usenet server after upload) and offer plans as low as $2.99/month. With options like SSL and VPN, Giganews is also the most secure Usenet provider.
If for some reason Giganews isn’t your cup of tea, there are a number of other great providers out there:
Configure Your Usenet Client
After a choosing a Usenet client and a Usenet provider, the last step in the setup is configuring your Usenet client. If you’ve ever setup an email client before, configuring a Usenet client is basically the same process. In the Usenet client settings you’ll be entering four basic details, all which are supplied by your Usenet provider:
- Your Usenet provider service address (ex. news.giganews.com).
- Your Usenet provider account username.
- Your Usenet provider account password.
- The number of connections your provider allows.
After entering in those details, save your settings, and get ready to download.
Finding Files on Usenet
If you selected Unison 2 or NewsLeecher as your Usenet client, both of those clients have search built right in. If your client does not have search, don’t fret. There are a number of great websites out there for finding files on Usenet. In fact, I recommend checking them out even if your client has search, because each offer a different way of finding files.
With the recent closure of the most popular Usenet indexing website, Newzbin, I have found these three websites the best replacements:
After finding a file on a search website, simply download the NZB file, and open the file from your downloads folder. Your Usenet client should automatically start downloading the file.
Start Enjoying Usenet
I hope you found my getting started guide useful. Usenet really is a wonderful service once you start to use it. If you have any questions, feel free to sound off in the comments.