All posts by Brian

Brian McCane has been operating Usenet servers since 1987. He began developing and hosting his website about free Usenet servers and newsgroups in 1993. Visit his site for a list of free usenet trials from commercial providers.

What is a newsgroup

I have seen a lot of discussions on forums and even on Usenet itself starting with questions like “what is a news group”, “what are newsgroups” or more commonly “what is a newsgroup”.  A Usenet newsgroup is a discussion group for a specific topic, which is shared on Usenet.  It is not a forum, or a blog, or even a file-sharing or online storage application, although it can look like any of those depending on what newsgroup you are reading. There are big differences between Usenet and other types of discussion sites and file-sharing applications.

A forum is typically hosted on a single web server, in order to post to that forum you typically have to sign up for an account to post questions or answers. Usenet is hosted on literally thousands of newsservers around the world, each server has it’s own copy of articles that it carries.  Most servers require users to sign up for an account, but there are some with free accounts and a few that still allow anonymous connections.  If a persons Usenet account allows posting, they can post questions and answers to a newsgroup and it is copied to all the servers in the network.  This gives excellent redundancy, which is a definite benefit, but there is a lack of control that most forums allow, such as being able to block some discussions or delete certain comments.

A blog is also typically hosted on a single web server using software like wordpress. Usually the blog owner is the only person allowed to post, although many sites allow others to leave comments. Bloggers typically post discussions about topics they are interested in, such as how their day went or what their cat is up too, or in this case “what are news groups”. A person could do exactly the same thing in a Usenet newsgroup, with all the same Usenet benefits and concerns listed above. One big difference between a newsgroup and a blog is that once an article is posted, you cannot edit it, and sometimes getting it deleted from all those servers is difficult, many servers ignore cancel requests for various reasons, including prevent vandalism.

File-sharing applications allow people to host binaries on their personal computers and share them with other people over the internet using a p2p (peer-to-peer) connection so users can copy files to and from each others machines.  Although Usenet was not originally designed to share  binaries, it was not long after its inception that people figured out how to use it for that.  There are a couple of glaring differences between Usenet and P2P, the biggest being the distributed way it stores files.  Although P2P usually has good distribution of files, if everyone with the binary you are interested in has deleted it from their PC or are simply not running the application, you cannot download the binary.  Another issue can be if the person that has parts of the file you want has a slow connection, it can take a very long time to download it. Getting a binary from a Usenet servers is easier and usually faster, if the binary is listed you can download it all from your newsserver, and the download speed is constant.  Most modern Usenet providers have very fast internet connections and can feed binaries to multiple users at the same time without any significant loss of download speed.

Online storage applications allow a user to securely save a backup copy of files to the providers server.  The provider usually has redundant servers and performs backups to protect the users data so they can recover at any time in the future.  They also usually have applications for many different devices including PCs, Macs and Smart phones. Online storage is really geared towards allowing a person or a company to backup their files somewhere else so they won’t lose them in the case of a fire or other catastrophe. Usenet allows users to post files, and due to its distributed nature it seems like a fairly safe way to store your personal information, but there is no inherent security; a file posted to a newsgroup can be viewed by anyone with a newsreader.  Users can encrypt their postings to prevent prying eyes from looking at personal information, but some servers may delete your files automatically based on a normal expiration schedule.  Because of the lack of security and guarantee of data retention, Usenet cannot be relied on as a file storage medium for critical data for an extended period of time.

Google Group vs Usenet Newsgroup

Earlier today I got an email from a user that was wanting to know the difference between googlegroups and Usenet newsgroups.  They went on further to ask which was a better choice for them based on some criteria.  The were looking for images, so my immediate response for them was “go with a Usenet server”, but then I realized the reasons were as important as my answer.

Short History

Usenet newsgroups have been around since the late 70s/early 80s.  I have operated a server since just before the “great renaming” back in 1987.  My personal experience is that the Usenet has been a wonderful tool for sharing of all kinds from the beginning.

Close to the beginning some people got the bright idea to keep copies of all the articles posted to Usenet.  The Deja News archive of Usenet articles, allowed visitors to their website to perform extensive searches and people could sign up for a free account to post articles in text newsgroups.  It was a wonderful tool, until they tried to make money from it.  In about 1999 they tried to monetize it, and everything went sideways.


On Feb 12, 2001 Google bought the archives and other resources that were left to the, by then failed, Deja News.  Google used those archives to start Googlegroups.  Google groups are fundamentally the same as Usenet newsgroups, and many of the groups are still peered with Tier-1 providers on the internet.  So, users that post to a Google group about ‘dog behavior’ might get a response from someone using a Usenet server reading ‘rec.pets.dogs.behavior’, and vice versa.

Probably due to the governing board in charge of the “Big 8” hierarchies on Usenet, Google groups created by their users are not created on the Usenet.  Because of this, not all groups will get peered with Usenet servers.  This limits the amount of low-bandwidth or nonsense groups in Usenet, but also lessens the possible amount of content it could provide.

Okay… which is better

Neither, both, either… really depends on your needs.  All things being equal, either should work for someone that is just looking for a discussion group about a topic.  There are many considerations that can change that though.

Google Group Usenet Newsgroup
Create Group Y Y1
Subscription N Y2
Software Required N Y/N3
Mailing List4 Y N
Binaries (alt.binaries.*) N Y
Document Sharing5 Y Y

1 – It is possible to create a newsgroup in the alt.* hierarchy just by typing its name into the newsgroup field of your newsgroup client.  If you want to create a newsgroup in the “Big 8” hierarchies you have to prove there is need/interest through a vetting process.  Few new newsgroups are created any more in the “Big 8”.

2 – It is possible to get a free account from some Usenet providers, these are usually speed or size limited and do not have binaries, but if your goal is to join a discussion group, that would be sufficient

3 – there are a several options for reading the Usenet newsgroups

  1. You can purchase a newsreader for Usenet, typical cost is around $20 and some require a subscription for advanced search features.
  2. Some Usenet providers (such as EasyNews) have a web-based interface which is actually much more sophisticated than the one provided by Googlegroups, they support searching for and previewing binaries
  3. there are free newsreaders, but they are normally designed more for Usenet enthusiasts than for casual users

4 – there is no mailing list on Usenet unless you create one… which is very angrily frowned upon.  A posting to a newsgroup is visible to all subscribers; you probably have a better chance of someone reading a posting in a newsgroup than getting passed their spam filter for mailing them directly

5 – document sharing in Google groups is limited.  Although document sharing is not directly supported on Usenet, you can post binaries in some groups.  You could post a document in an alt.binaries.* group, then reference it in an article in a discussion newsgroup.  There is a program (called uBackup) which can be used to “store” documents on the Usenet.

What is a Newsgroup

A Usenet newsgroup is a discussion group within the Usenet system for messages posted by users about a specific topic.  This term is often confused with forums or blogs, but they are different in many ways. In order to read newsgroups you need access to a Usenet server and newsreader software.

Usenet was originally based on the old bulletin board systems (BBS) of the late 70’s and early 80’s.  The primary difference is that a BBS required users to dial in to a centralized computer to read all the articles, and they were not (typically) shared between different BBS’.  Usenet turned that design on it’s head, articles are stored and copied between servers around the world, with each maintaining a separate repository of articles for all the newsgroups.  When servers communicated with each other they would trade missing articles so that all servers eventually would have all articles in their repository.  This design allowed users to dial in to a newsgroup server and share ideas with people from all around the world.

Newsgroup Hierarchies

Newsgroups are grouped together in hierarchies which help users to locate newsgroups they are interested in more easily on the Usenet.  Originally all newsgroups were in the net.* hierarchy, and locating a news group you were interested in could be difficult. In 1987 some of the major Usenet backbone sites got together and rearranged all the newsgroups in what was called the “big-7”, they were:

  • comp.* – computer related newsgroups
  • news.* – Usenet related newsgroups
  • rec.* – recreational activity related newsgroups
  • sci.* – newsgroups for scientific topics
  • soc.* – social issue newsgroups
  • talk.* – contentions issue related newsgroups suck as religion and politics
  • misc.* – miscellaneous discussions that didn’t fit any of the above

In 1995 the “Big 7” was changed to the “Big 8” with the addition of the humanities.* hierarchy for discussion topics such as the arts and philosophy. All of the “Big 8” groups were controlled by a group from the major backbone operators and they allowed users to make suggestions for creating or deleting groups, and those requests were formalized by choosing an appropriate name and group charter.  Finally, the proposal was put to a vote by the group.  Often, in the end, the answer was “No” which frustrated a lot of users who pushed for the creation of a new hierarchy that was not controlled by the “Big 8” group and eventually the alt.* hierarchy was created.

Unlike the “Big 8” which requires users to present a Request for Discussion (RFD) to create a newsgroup, the alt.* hierarchy is the wild west.  Users that want to create their own newsgroup simply put alt.<topic> in the newsgroup to post to and many servers will propagate it to all their peers.  The major shortfall in this design is that; while “Big 8” newsgroups will be carried by almost all Usenet servers, the decision to pass on unknown groups is up to the individual server operators, and some will refuse to carry or propagate those groups.  The upshot of this is that you can create a group, but no one may ever see it but you.

Other Hierarchies

There are many other hierarchies now on the Usenet, many of which are operator or country/language based.  Because of the flexible design of the Usenet software, an operator can create newsgroups which are only available to their users and will not be passed to other servers.  Also, for many non-English users, groups have been created that allow discussion in their country or native language.  Most of these hierarchies have a regulating body (or individual) which maintains the list of allowed newsgroups.  Some of the major hierarchies include:

  • cn.* – for Chinese newsgroups
  • de.* – for German newsgroups
  • fr.* – for French newsgroups
  • it.* – for Italian newsgroups
  • kr.* – for Korean newsgroups
  • tw.* – for Taiwanese newsgroups

Types of Newsgroups

There are predominantly two types of newsgroups, binary or text.  Both work the same way from a server standpoint, and there is no major differences in the naming conventions except that binary groups often have ‘binaries’ somewhere in the name, such as ‘’ which carries pictures of trains by newsgroup readers.  Often there is a discussion newsgroup for a binary group which will have an identical name but have ‘.d’ added to the end denoting that it is for discussion of postings to the binary newsgroup.

Newsgroups are usually about specific topics, and some are even moderated to ensure that off-topic posts are not posted to a discussion, while others allow users to post articles about a wide variety of topics.  There are currently over 110,000 newsgroups, most of which do not see any activity except for SPAM, but estimates are that about 20,000 of the newsgroups are still regularly used by people for their intended purposes.  A lot of the other 90,000+ are newsgroups created in the alt.* hierarchy either intentionally, or often through a typographical error while typing in the newsgroup to post or cross-post to.

Binary Newsgroups

The Usenet was originally designed to work with US-ASCII characters, and was at that time a very US-centric system.  The Usenet originally only connected a few Universities together, and that was expanded to include corporations, high-schools and some individuals.  It wasn’t long before some users wanted to be able to send binary data in newsgroups and a method (called UUencode) was created which converted 8-bit binary files to 7-bit US-ASCII.  Users that wanted to use the binary data could decode it (using UUdecode) and have a copy of the original file.

The modern Usenet software is designed to work with many international character sets and can transfer those articles without risk of damage to 8-bit data, but articles are still often sent in 7-bit clean formats.  There are also newer programs that can create articles that use 8-bit data such as yEnc.  yEnc’s 8-bit articles are much more efficient at transferring binaries than the older UUencode articles because the conversion from 8-bit to 7-bit has an approximate overhead of about 40%, whereas the overhead for yEnc is much lower, usually as low as 1-2%.

Another restriction of the original Usenet servers was often article size, this restriction required that larger binaries be broken up into multiple parts which they poster would then post manually.  Users that wanted the original binary would download all the parts, and put them back together manually before decoding. This process was tedious and error prone, plus servers often would not get all the parts of a posting, or might delete parts before the user had time to download all of them.  The high error rate caused the ‘.d’ discussion groups to often be filled with requests for “part 13 of 53”.  Modern newsgroup readers are able to handle multi-part binary postings internally and the users usually needs to just pick the binary they want and come back later for the completed download.

What is Usenet

Usenet has been available at universities and corporations since long before the internet was available to people in their homes.  It has always been a great medium for sharing thoughts and ideas, and many of the earliest “open source” projects shared their software using the various comp.source.* newsgroups.  Today, it has moved from it’s original discussion driven design to include all types of digital media, including various types of executables, videos, music and images which can usually be found in the alt.binaries.* groups.  Using modern newsreader software and a good Usenet provider the Usenet provides excellent speed and reliability which is often missing from other file-sharing options, such as BitTorrent or LimeWire.

What is Usenet?

For a detailed history of Usenet I recommend that you got to Wikipedia.  They have a very large, detailed and … well… boring explanation of the history of Usenet.  Most people that are reading this posting really don’t care about the history, they want to know about what it is today.

Okay, maybe a little history is in order; the original design of Usenet was loosely based on the old Bulletin Board Systems of the late 70s and early 80s.  One major difference between Usenet and a BBS is that instead of everyone connecting to a central computer via a modem to access data, Usenet systems each get a copy of the articles allowing users to read them locally.  This design worked well for universities and corporations, and helped to reduce the cost of operating a Usenet server.  Typical operation was to set up your server to call a couple of neighboring servers (hopefully local) and exchange whatever articles they had, those servers would talk to their neighbors.  Eventually articles would get to someone with a hard-line to another city and the sharing would continue; many universities had permanent connections with other universities, and some large corporations had their offices inter-connected as well.

The Usenet still operates in this fashion, but the large inter-connected companies are now called ‘Tier-1 Providers”.  There are anywhere from 4-10 of the Tier-1 providers, depending on whom you believe.  Most  the Tier-1 providers are increasing their storage so that their article retention and completion are nearly 100% for the last few years.  The primary exception to this is articles which get removed in response to DMCA take down notices from copyright owners.

What can I do with Usenet

Usenet was originally designed for the sharing of ideas, and there are still many newsgroups that are dedicated to just that.  Although their traffic is slowly dying off due to technologies such as forums, and blogs, many still have very lively conversations from time to time.  Since the advent of the Internet, Usenet has become more of a file sharing medium, allowing users to post images, music, videos or executables for other users to enjoy.

Is Usenet legal

Most binaries posted are legal for you to download and use, but there are also some that are posted in violation of their copyright.  Most people who use Usenet are smart enough to know that if you find a movie that was shown at the theater, it is almost certainly not legal to download. However, it can sometimes be tricky to figure out if an video, image or MP3 file are legal.  Movie trailers are usually legal to download; many websites post some of their content as a teaser to get new members which is legal to download; some bands have privately published music which they allow people to download for free, these are legal; sometimes a user joins a website to download the content and post it to Usenet which is not legal.  Regardless of how copyright material ends up on Usenet, when it happens, the copyright holder must send a “DMCA take down” message to the Usenet provider, and the Newsgroup server is legally obligated to remove those articles.

Downloading Usenet Binaries

Many years ago, the Usenet only allowed 7-bit text messages to ensure that communications was possible between any type of machine, using any kind of modem.  It was not long before someone figured out how to encode 8-bit data into a 7-bit format so that binaries could be sent using Usenet with no modifications to the Newsgroup server software.  The original programs for encoding and decoding articles were named uuencode and uudecode, respectively.  Modern versions of Usenet are now 8-bit safe and even allow for multi-byte text in UTF-8 format, but various encoding methods for articles are still used.

In the old days, to download a Usenet binary, you had to locate all its parts on the server and download them to your computer.  After all the parts were on your computer you would feed them to a decoding program, which usually gave you the binary or an archive containing your binary.  If your binary was in an archive, you then used another application to extract your binary from the archive.  Needless to say, this could be a long and tedious process, and often not all the parts were available on your Usenet server.

Over the years, the applications and Newsgroup servers have gotten much more sophisticated.

  • Usenet server software was upgraded to be able to work with other languages than English, and in the process was made 8-bit safe so that encoding from 8-bit to 7-bit was no longer required, decreasing article sizes by about 40%
  • Web sites such as Newzbin started popping up which created NZB files providing users with an exact list of all articles required to recreate a binary
  • Encoding software began creating NZB and SFV files automatically and posting them with the binaries
  • An application called parchive created ‘PAR’ files which could be used to repair incomplete files using complex algorithms that could not only detect errors in the parts, but could even recreate missing parts using the ‘PAR’ file and the parts that were successfully downloaded.

Most modern newsreaders have integrated newsgroup search features, and almost all of them support the NZB standard file format, both of which make finding all the parts of a Usenet binary much simpler.  In addition, most newsgroup readers also directly support decoding, repairing and extracting binaries into a directory for you, so all you have to do is tell it what to download with an NZB file and where to store it.  Another nice feature of some newsgroup browsers is that they can work with multiple servers, so if a part is missing from one server, they will attempt to get it from an alternate server.

Putting it all together

For most users interested in downloading from Usenet, the steps are now pretty simple.

  1. Choose a Usenet provider
  2. Choose a newsreader
  3. Use a newsgroup search website or your newsreader’s integrated search to find the digital media you want
  4. if you are using a website, import the NZB from the website
  5. click download
  6. when the download completes, use your new binary

VPN Review – VyprVPN by Giganews and Golden Frog

I recently began testing a VPN utility named VyprVPN from Giganews (a Usenet newsgroup provider) and their development team at Golden Frog.  Giganews released this utility to help ensure their clients privacy while using Usenet, but it’s application goes far beyond just encrypting connections to a newsgroup server.  VyprVPN works with Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, iPhone, iPad and Android devices.  On all devices you simply connect to their servers, and from that point on you appear to be connected to the internet from whichever city (or country) you have chosen.

Giganews has large Usenet server farms in the US, Europe and Asia, and they have taken advantage of their presence in all these locations to use as connection points for VyprVPN.  At the time of this writing you could choose to use servers in:

  • Washington, DC
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Austin, TX
  • Amsterdam, NL
  • London, UK
  • Paris, FR
  • Frankfurt, GER
  • Hong Kong, Asia

VyprVPN encrypts all communications from your device, not just web traffic or email or Usenet.  This has advantages and disadvantages. Advantages include: nobody can tell what you are doing from your PC, your IP address is hidden from everyone including the destination servers; if you can connect to servers in a country without restrictions you can bypass your countries censorship. Disadvantages include: additional monthly fees and slower internet connections.


A standalone VyprVPN account is a little more pricey than some of their competitors.  However, I have a Giganews Diamond Account so I am able to use the VyprVPN pro for free. If you are not into Usenet, you can buy a standalone version of VyprVPN from Golden Frog in two flavors:

  • basic version uses PPTP and 128-bit encryption and costs $14.99/month
  • pro version adds L2TP/IPsec and 256-bit encryption for $19.99/month

What this means is really beyond the scope of this review, but basically PPTP is an older standard (based on PPP) used for VPN connections, L2TP/IPSec is the newer protocol expected to eventually replace PPTP.

VPN Installation and Setup

Installation and setup is extremely easy.  You download the client from either Giganews or Golden Frog (depending on who you are contracted with) and run the installation.  After it is done it asks for your username and password.  You reboot your computer (for windows) and when it comes back up you have a new icon on your task bar.  You can click on the icon and connect to immediately secure your entire internet connection.

VPN Performance

During my testing I was quite pleased with the performance of the VPN.  Although there is some initial startup latency, once a connection is established to a server for download there is NO significant decrease in performance.  During testing I was able to tell that it was a little slower for operations such as starting a Netflix movie, but streaming seemed to to unaffected.  The startup latency is caused by my packets first being sent to a VyprVPN server, then sent to the Netflix servers, data sent from Netflix then returns to the VyprVPN server and finally back to my PC.  This same issue with the path happens even when I connect to my own web servers in my office, unless I use RFC 1918 addressing so that it knows to use the local network for delivery.

In the past people have used VPN software to access Netflix from countries where access is limited or restricted by connecting to a VPN server in the US. Unfortunately, Netflix has recently added blocks to their servers for many VPN providers to prevent people from doing this.

VyprVPN was initially designed by Giganews to protect Usenet traffic, and since the servers are in the same facilities for the VPN and Usenet, you don’t get the inherent multiple-hop issues you
have with going to other servers on the internet.

Browsing Experience

The main focus of VyprVPN is to provide security for Usenet access, but as part of my testing I chose to leave the VPN connected all of the time, which was … interesting. During my setup I had just clicked okay until it said to reboot.  When I connected VyprVPN it chose the servers in Amsterdam by default. Websites which used Geo-location technology all thought I was in Netherlands and displayed all my web pages in Dutch, then Chrome offered to translate them all back to English for me.  I now use the “Fastest server” setting, which usually picks a US city, and my pages are usually in English.

Online Gaming

Just a quick word of warning; latency which is not important for streaming content or web-browsing will render your online first or third person shooters unusable.  While testing (OK, I was playing Diablo III in Hell level), I was repeatedly killed by the lag beast until I figured out that I had left VyprVPN connected.  Once I disconnected VyprVPN my game play returned to normal, and we successfully dispatched Belial, just in case you were worried.


VyprVPN is a very nice VPN utility.  It is extremely easy to configure, and also very easy to enable and disable depending on whether you feel you need it at the time or not.  Performance is excellent, and because it protects your entire internet connection the security it provides is unbeatable.

Astraweb Review

Special Offer

Astraweb has set up special pricing for my users. You can get an Unlimited DSL account with unlimited speed and downloads for only $11/month for the life of your account.

Astraweb has been around for quite a long time now.  They are a fairly well known Newsgroup server operator and according to their website they are NOT a reseller.  The provide good service with a lot of different options, allowing users to pay for the features they need, and not for the ones they don’t.  They started increasing their retention a few years back like many of the larger Usenet servers and have retention times that are on par with the big boys.  At the time of this writing, they had 1396 days retention and are increasing 1-day every day.

Astraweb allows users to purchase their internet in two basic formats, unlimited data or block download plans.  For unlimited downloads you have another option, 10 Mbit/s download speed or unlimited speed.  Block plans are all unlimited speed.

Account Features

Own Their Servers – Astraweb owns and operates their own Usenet servers.  They are in a class sort of like the Tier-1 providers, but looking at the traffic reports, they are not part of the Tier-1 backbone, so I guess you would call them a Tier-2 provider.  Regardless of what you call them, they are peered with many of the Tier-1 and also much lower tiered servers and have good article propagation for your postings.

Retention – as I mentioned above, Astraweb had 1396 days of retention when I wrote this review, and were increasing it daily.  This retention is not quite as high as the largest Tier-1 Newsgroup provider, but is within 2-weeks of them.  They boast of a 99% completion rate across all newsgroups.

Download Speeds – There are two options for download speeds, you can save money if you get the 10Mbit/s account, or for a little more you can get unlimited download speeds.  Anyone who is on dialup, DSL or slower cable internet (10Mbit/s or less) can definitely go with the lower speed and save themselves some money.

Download Size – There are two options for download sizes as well.  You can pay for unlimited speed downloads by the block, and possibly save yourself some money. Or, you can pay for unlimited downloads, for a little more money.

Encryption – Astraweb provides SSL Encryption for all of their accounts.

Redundancy – Astraweb operates server farms in both the US and in Europe.  Although I have not seen it mentioned on their website, one would assume they have data redundancy between their farms just to reduce traffic between the farms when a user requests an article.

Payment Options – most usenet services require payment by credit card, however Astraweb allows users to pay by credit card, or they can use paypal and no credit card is required.  This is a nice selling points for people that prefer to not have credit cards.  For dutch users they also accept iDeal, which I know nothing about.


Astraweb has been providing good service for a long time, and by all accounts are very reliable with good article completion.  They have a nice list of account options; Unlimited plans are best for users that download a lot from Usenet, their block plans work best for people that typically download less often, anything less than 25GB a month would qualify. Download speed options are another great feature, I don’t care if I can download at 100Mbit/s if my Internet connection is less than 10Mbit/s.  And finally, providing an option to pay without a credit card can be very helpful for some users.

All Accounts
1396+ days retention
99%+ Completion
Operate Private servers
Farms in US & Europe
256-Bit SSL
Unlimited Plans
All Unlimited
20 connections
Unlimited downloads
NGB Special
$11 monthly
Unlimited 10 Mbit/s
$10 monthly
or as low as
$6.67 per month
Unlimited DSL
$15 monthly
or as low as
$13 per month
Block Plans
All Block Plans
50 connections
Unlimited Speeds
Unlimited downloads
Block Prices
$10 for 25GB Block
$25 for 180GB Block
$50 for 1000GB Block

Easynews Review

Easynews has been providing Usenet news since 1997. They provide a simple, web-based newsreader which allows users to easily preview and download Usenet binary files.  Also available is NNTP Access (included free with their “Big Gig” package), which has unlimited speed and downloads for only $9.95/month. For new users, they provide a 14 day free usenet trial with 10GB downloads included.

Account Features

Free Trial – Easynews provides a 14-day free trial that allows up to 10GB of usenet binary downloads from their Newsgroup servers.  If you do not cancel within 14 days or 10GB of downloads your credit card will automatically be billed for the subscription amount.

Web-based Newsgroup Reader – Easynews allows users to use their normal Web Browser to read Usenet articles posted int the last 200 days.  Users can preview and then download copies of full articles and Usenet binaries they want to their local machine.

NNTP/Newsreader Access – Easynews also provides access to the last ~1330 days of Usenet binaries from a Newsgroup client.  NNTP Access is included for free in their “Big Gig” account and can be added to any of the other accounts for only $9.95/month.
*NOTE* you will have to either buy or download a free Newsbrowser to use this feature, and you may need to configure additional applications to work with the articles depending on the Usenet client you use.

Unlimited – Easynews NNTP access allows unlimited speed and unlimited downloads from their newsgroup servers.  During my testing I can consistently download articles fast enough to use all my Internet bandwidth.

Redundancy – Easynews has fully redundant server farms in the USA and Europe.  They keep multiple copies of every Usenet article at each server farm which helps guarantee that even in the event of a server failure, or even loss of a server farm, you will still be able to get access to the articles you want to download.

Encryption – All Easynews accounts include 256-bit Encrypted SSL connections.  This helps to protect your privacy because all data between your Newsgroup client and the Usenet servers are unreadable by anyone that could intercept them.

Alternate Ports – Easynews allows alternate ports for connecting to both the Web-Based reader and their Newsgroup servers using your Usenet newsreader.  This helps to reduce the chances that your ISP will throttle your connection for newsgroups.  For more information about this read my post: Alternate Ports

Support – 24×7 support is available for Easynews customers.  Support can be in the form of email, a phone call or live chat on their website.  They also have extensive support forums which can probably answer most of your questions.

Web-Based Newsreader

The ease of using the web-based newsreader is a very strong selling point for this provider, especially since it is platform independent and can work with any device with a web browser.  I am only aware of a couple of web-based newsreaders, and the Easynews client is very pleasant to use, unlike many of the others.  Reading, viewing and listening to content from Usenet servers is as simple as pointing your web browser at, logging in and searching for newsgroup articles posted  in the last ~200 days with key words and phrases in their subject  lines across multiple newsgroups.  Some filtering is provided allowing you to only view certain kinds of media, limit newsgroups, posting date ranges, etc.  Your results are displayed as thumbnails, when you click on the thumbnails you will hear or see samples for audio and video files or download images to your computer.  You can also have multiple tabs or windows open in your browser all displaying search results or Usenet content, the number of allowed connections is unlimited.

Zip Manager

Easynews also provides the Zip Manager, which can be used to tag all of your Usenet binaries or articles, similar to a shopping cart.  After you have marked all the conent you want it can be put in one, or several, large files, called ZIP files, which you can then download to your PC or even share with friends that also use Easynews.  Each  ZIP file can hold up to 5000 files or 2GB of data, and each user can have up to 10 zip files queued for download at a time.  The ZIP manager can also create playlists (M3U), readme files, CSV and SVF files and can also generate an NZB file which can be used with a NNTP newsreader.

NNTP Access

Most Usenet purists don’t use things like web-based readers, and even people that do, sometimes need access to articles that are more than 200 days old.  Easynews provides direct NNTP access to 1330 days of usenet binaries using your Newsgroup reader free with their “Big Gig” account, or for only $9.95 with any other account or even stand-alone.  NNTP access includes 256-bit SSL and header compression if your newsreader supports them. You can use whatever newsgroup browser application you like with this account.  If you don’t have a favorite I would suggest going to my Newsgroup Reader List and see if you can find one that you like there.  You can expect to pay around $20 for a good newsreader.


Easynews provides excellent service and an impressive number of options to choose from.  During my testing I found the web-based reader and zip manager to both be easy work with.  When stress testing NNTP access from my newsgroup client I was able to download a 4GB ISO, using an NZB file created by the ZIP manager, in about 8 minutes which is close to the theoretical limit for my internet connection.

Web-Based Plans
All Plans
256-Bit SSL
24×7 Support
14-day/10GB Free Trial
Easyboost Technology
Thumbnail Previews
Zip Manager
Pre-assembled Multi-part Binaries
Big Gig
150GB download/month
200+ days retention
Unlimited NNTP Access
40GB download/month
200+ days retention
20GB download/month
150 days retention
Unlimited NNTP
Free with Big Gig Plan
1330 days retention
256-bit SSL
Header Compression

Supernews Review

SuperNews has been providing basic Usenet newsgroups since 1995.  They have always provided a simple, no-frills service. Recently they have made some major changes and now have Powered by Wordpress Plugins - Get the full version!
days of binary and 3276 days of text retention, along with excellent download speeds.

Account Features

Free Trial – Supernews provides a 3-day free trial that allows up to 10GB of data to be downloadded from their Usenet servers.  After 3 days or 10GB the account is automatically started and billed to your credit card.

Redundancy – Usenet is based in Amsterdam, and has a redundant server farm in the USA as well. They keep multiple copies of every Usenet article to ensure a 100% article completion rate. This means you never experience downtime or missing articles. Unlike other Usenet providers, which have to retrieve older articles from an archive, Supernews keeps all articles available at unlimited speeds.

Unlimited – As always, Supernews accounts are simple to understand, they have unlimited download speeds and unlimited download sizes.  You are only limited by your internet connection speed and your ISP if they perform bandwidth throttling.  During my indexing and testing, I am easily able to download at the full speed of my internet connection.

Encryption – Supernews has been providing industry standard data encryption for your connections since 1995.  They currently support 256-bit SSL encryption.

Alternate Ports – Supernews allows you to connect using alternate ports to help reduce the chance that your ISP will reduce your bandwidth for news.  To get a little more detail on this go read my post: Alternate Ports

24×7 Support – Supernews understands that your Usenet experience can be screwed up if you are having a problem connecting, etc, so they have a support team to answer any questions you have about your account any time day or night.


Supernews has excellent retention and connection speed for a very reasonable account.  You will have to provide your own Newsgroup browser and any other supporting application, so it does require a little more knowledge to setup than some other accounts.

One Price/One Plan
$11.99 per month
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days of binaries
Unlimited Speed
Unlimited Downloads
30 Connections
256-Bit SSL
Redundant servers in USA & Europe
24×7 Customer support

Newshosting Review

Special Offer has set up special pricing for my users. You can get an unlimited Standard Account with Powered by Wordpress Plugins - Get the full version!
days retention for only $9.99/month for the life of your account.

Newshosting has been providing Usenet newsgroup access for a long time. Over the past few years they have joined with several other Usenet providers, and also made great strides to improve their infra-structure and services, which has once again placed them in the upper ranks of NNTP service providers.

All Newshosting plans, including the $9.99/month special, come with the recently released Newshosting Newsreader. The Newshosting Usenet browser is a custom written, stream-lined, all inclusive package. Users that opt to use this newsgroup reader will not need any other applications to work with binary or text newsgroups. The Newshosting news reader has an integrated search which queries Newshosting’s servers for results from all articles on their servers, allowing users to locate any file from any newsgroup with one simple search. It also has built-in file previews and automatic thumbnails, reducing wasted time downloading a binary you don’t really want. For files you choose to download, it has automatic Parchive support to repair any damaged or missing parts of a binary, and automatic unrar to extract contents from compressed archive files. Finally, you can also sort your groups by the types of files usually found in them, such as text, audio, video, images and etc.

Account Features

Free Trial – Newhosting provides a 21-day free trial with up to 30GB of data downloaded from their newsgroup servers.

Tier-1 Provider – Newshosting operates the large NNTP infrastructure in the world

Redundancy – Newshosting recently doubled the data redundancy for their North American and European server farms. This upgrade helps to ensure that in the event of a loss of any servers in their farms, you will still get near 100% binary completion from one of the multiple backups carrying the same data.

Premium Subscriber Servers – Newshosting has servers which are dedicated to their premium subscribers. This means less latency or chance for a failed connection due to server load.

Retention – Newshosting has Powered by Wordpress Plugins - Get the full version!
days of articles for binary newsgroups. This is one of the highest retention levels available from any commercial provider. In addition, they are currently increasing their retention at a rate of 1-day, every day, so the article you find today will still be there when you try to download it tomorrow.

Unlimited Download Speeds – Newshosting does not put any restrictions on your download speeds. During my testing with the Newshosting  newsreader I was easily able to saturate my internet connection, completing a download of a 4GB ISO image in under 40 minutes. People with 100Mbit/s connections can expect that download to complete in about 8 minutes.

Bulk Rates – customers that choose to pay for their accounts in multiple month increments can get discounted rates to further decrease the cost for their Usenet Newsgroup access.

24/7 Support – Newshosting 24/7 support with a helpful/knowledgeable staff manning the phones.  In addition, their online FAQs will answer most users questions without having to make a phone call if you are willing to look for your answers.


Newhosting currently offers one of the least expensive unlimited monthly account available. I highly recommend their Unlimited account for $9.99/month. For that low price you gain access to their top-tier account, and the only extras that you get with their more expensive account is access to a separate server (which claims to have the same retention), and a web-based reader.

All Accounts
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days retention
256-Bit SSL
Newsgroup Client
Unlimited Plans
Maxbaud Special
$9.99 monthly
as low as
$8.33 per month
30 connections
XL Powerpack
$19.95 monthly
as low as
$15.83 per month
60 connections
Free EasyNews account
Standard Account
$14.95 monthly
as low as
$12.95 per month
30 connections
Limited Plans
Lite Plan
$10 monthly
30 connections
50GB w/rollover