Tag Archives: newsgroup server

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.

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 easynews.com, 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
Powered by Wordpress Plugins - Get the full version!
days of binaries
Unlimited Speed
Unlimited Downloads
30 Connections
256-Bit SSL
Redundant servers in USA & Europe
24×7 Customer support

Alternate Usenet Ports

In the past, many ISPs (Internet Service Providers) began blocking or throttling peoples Usenet connections to outside Newsgroup Servers.  This was done because most ISPs provided Usenet and they wanted to discourage people from reading Newsgroups from other providers which could use a lot of the ISPs Internet bandwidth.  Although most ISPs no longer provide Usenet on their own networks, it is still common for many ISPs to block or throttle Usenet for the same reason, bandwidth.In order to be able to provide better service to more people, most NNTP server providers allow alternate ports that a subscriber can use to connect to their Newsgroup servers.  By using alternate ports it is more difficult for an ISP to use technologies, such as traffic-shaping to place caps on only Usenet users.  If you have noticed that your Usenet downloads seem significantly slower than downloading in your web browser, your ISP might be throttling your connection, and using an alternate port could help you to get around it.

Some ISPs have used software in the past which is able to recognize the protocol that is being used on a port, and based on the type of traffic they can throttle or block your Usenet.  Although NNTP and HTTP use plain-text messages to transfer data back and forth, the commands and responses (although using similar result codes) are different enough to be easily differentiated. Because of this, and privacy concerns, Usenet providers also allow users to connect to their NNTP servers securely, using 256-Bit SSL connections, which render the content of dialog between a Usenet client and the Usenet server, unreadable or recognizable.

Below is a table with various commercial Usenet providers and the optional ports you can use to connect to them.

Alternate NNTP Ports
Usenet Provider Server Addresses Encrypted Ports Standard
Alt.Binaries east.AltBinaries.com
80, 443, 563, 8080 119
Astraweb news.astraweb.com
443, 563 23, 119,  1818, 8080
Easynews news.easynews.com
443, 563, 8080 21, 22, 80, 119
Easynews Web members.easynews.com
81,443 80
Giganews Usenet news.giganews.com
443, 563 23, 80, 119
Newsdemon news.newsdemon.com
80, 81, 563 23, 25, 119, 443, 8080
Newsgroup Direct news.newsgroupdirect.com
80, 81, 563 23, 25, 119, 443, 8080
NewsGuy news.newsguy.com 443, 563 80 , 119, 8080
Newshosting news.newshosting.com 443, 563 23, 25, 80, 119, 3128
Ngroups us.ngroups.net
80, 81, 465, 563, 993 20,23, 53, 119, 443, 2000, 8080, 9000, 9001, 9002
PowerUsenet news.powerusenet.com 443, 563 23, 80, 119
SuperNews news.supernews.com
443, 563 23, 80, 119
ThunderNews news.thundernews.com
80, 81, 563 23, 25, 119, 443, 8080
Usenet.net news.usenet.net 443, 563 23, 80, 119
UseNetServer news.usenetserver.com
443, 563, 8080 23, 25, 119, 3128, 8000, 9000

Ports Used

Almost all of the ports used by Newsgroup servers as alternates are actually defined for a specific purpose. This is done so that ISPs will be more reluctant to simply block the port and thus interfere with other users ability to use those services. Below is a table which tells what service typically is run on each port.

Defined Ports
Port Service Description
119 NNTP Network News Transfer Protocol
20 FTP-DATA FTP Data Channel
21 FTP File Transfer Protocol
22 SSH Secure Shell Login
23 TELNET Telnet Login
25 SMTP Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
53 DNS Domain Name Service
80 HTTP HyperText Transfer Protocol
Web Browsing
81 Not Defined
465 URD URL rendezvous directory for SSM
993 IMAPS Internet Message Access Protocol over TLS/SSL
1818 ETFTP Enhanced Trivial File Transfer Protocol
2000 Used by Cyrus and/or Cisco Equipment
3128 Typically used for Web Proxies
8000 Not defined
8080 HTTP-ALT Alternate port for HTTP
9000 CSLISTENER CSlistener
9001 ETLSERVICEMGR ETL Service Manager
9002 DYNAMID DynamID authentication