Selecting a Usenet Provider

Choosing the right Usenet provider is key to having a positive experience. If you end up with a provider that over sells and under delivers the results are very frustrating. Let's make sure that doesn't happen.

10 Usenet Provider Selection Tips

1 - Binary or Text - Pick Your Poison
2 - I want it Free!
3 - Binary Retention - Your New Best Friend
4 - Completion Rate - Full House or Bust
5 - Speed, Speed and More Speed - Bandwidth
6 - Secure Usenet - Privacy is Key
7 - How Much is Enough? Unlimited vs. Metered
8 - Free Stuff - Don't Overlook the Free Extras
9 - Price - Get the Most for Your Money
10- Rock, Paper, Scissors - Where to Go Next

1 - Binary or Text - Pick Your Poison
We recognize that a large majority of you are looking for binary files If this is the case move on to #2. If however you are looking for text newsgroup access then I'd start with Google Groups. Google provides free web access to text newsgroups.

2 - I Want it Free!

Free Usenet access normally consists of someone leaving the barn door open. In other words someone accidentally leaves the server unprotected. One of the problems with free Usenet access is that its inconsistent at best. The top premium Usenet providers spend a sizeable sum to assure their servers meet customers requirements of which we'll discuss below. If you can find a good free binary newsgroup server that stays up more than a few days then we salute you!

3 - Binary Retention - Your New Best Friend

Binary retention is the number of days a server holds binary files. If you plan to be a hard core newsgroup user then binary retention will be your best friend. We have seen binary retention range from a few days all the way up to 200 days.

4 - Completion Rate - Full House or Bust

Completion rate defines the percentage of files in tact on the server. If you download a full DVD only to realize your missing 10% of the files you have wasted time and bandwidth. Look for a provider that offers 99%+ completion rate. Many claim it but few live up to the hype. In general look for providers that are well peered. This means that they peer with other top Usenet servers. After all Usenet is a decentralized network with no one player owning the data. The most popular services tend to have the best completion rates.

5 - Speed, Speed and More Speed - Bandwidth

First and foremost if you are going to be downloading binary files you want high speed Internet access. Its possible to download via dial up but just do the math and you'll see that it takes forever to download several gigs via dial up. The best way we have found to test a providers speed is either take advantage of a free trial or sign up for a one month account. When testing make sure you download for long periods of time during all hours of the day and days of the week. Some providers hit bottlenecks during peak download times.

6 - Secure Usenet - Privacy is Key

Bottom line... We like to keep all of our online actions secure and private. Its no one's business what you are doing online. With this said we do not endorse copyright infringement or any other illegal activities.

In general Usenet providers do not log your activities. Many advertise uncensored access. Along this line many providers have started offering encrypted access. SSL and SSH are two common methods. The most common is SSL. This not only helps protect your privacy but also makes it harder for ISP's to throttle your bandwidth when downloading from newsgroups.

7 - How Much is Enough? Unlimited vs. Metered Accounts

Newsgroup providers offer two types of accounts. One is "unlimited" which means you can download all you want for a flat monthly fee. The other is known as "metered" and gives you a defined amount of bandwidth monthly for a flat monthly fee. Some also offer "block" accounts which give you a defined amount of bandwidth with either an extended or no expiration date. Which is best? This is really a personal preference. Just think about what you plan on downloading and do the math to figure which account is best.

8 - Free Extras - Don't Overlook the Free Offers

Freebies normally come with a catch but in the case of Usenet providers the free extras can be quite useful. Examples of Usenet freebies include newsreaders, other services such as email, web hosting, web gateways for Usenet access and more. We suggest not making a decision solely based on freebies but it might be a deciding factor in a close race.

9 - Price - Get the Most for Your Money

So many people make the mistake of finding the cheapest Usenet plan and then don't understand why the files aren't complete or support is non existent. Do your homework and decide on a plan that meets your budget. Compare what you are getting in services and compare it to the price. One tip is to look for discounts. Some providers offer new customer discounts and deep discounts on multi-month subscriptions.

10 - Rock, Paper, Scissors - Where to Go Next

If you have read all 10 tips then you deserve more! To be unbiased we make it a point not to promote or even mention the name of any Usenet providers. We also understand you need more information so we provide links in our Usenet resources section that offer hands on reviews of various providers along with free trials and special offers.