The Complete Guide to Downloading with Usenet in 3 Easy Steps

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jared.

If you’re like most people, you’ve never heard of Usenet. You’d probably be surprised to learn that Usenet was the Internet 10 years before the web as we know it even existed.

Usenet is the original social network. The place where the World Wide Web, Mosaic and Linux were all announced.

And now, after more than 30 years, Usenet is stronger than ever.

There are many ways to download on the internet. But none of those ways offer the benefits that the modern Usenet does:

  • Uncapped download speeds (as fast as your internet connection will allow)
  • Huge Selection (with more than 800 Terabytes of user uploads available)
  • Privacy & Security (SSL encrypted connections)

Downloading from Usenet is unlike any other internet download you’ve ever experienced. But until recently, it was too complicated for the novice user.

Thanks to advances in technology, today downloading from Usenet is as easy as 1-2-3.

Step 1. Usenet Server Access

The first thing you need is access to a Usenet server.

This used to be the easy part as Usenet access was commonly provided for free by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or local University.

These days however, if you want full access to Usenet, you are going to have to go through a premium Usenet provider.

Usenet_Client_Server

While there are a number of providers, there are five things you want to evaluate each provider on:

  • Retention – How long do they store text and files on their servers? All of the best Usenet providers are now offering 900 days or more of binary retention.
  • Speed – Do they allow unlimited download speeds or are the speeds capped?
  • Unlimited Downloads – Can you download an unlimited amount or are there data caps?
  • Privacy & Security – Are SSL connections to the servers available?
  • # of Connections – 10-12 Connections are all you need. Too many connections can actually slow down the speed of downloads.

The best providers will include all of the above.

Step 2. Newsreader

Once you have Usenet server access, you need a special piece of software so your computer can communicate with the server. This piece of software is called a “Newsreader”.

SABnzd_Reader

Image: SABnzbd Open Source Newsreader

Newsreaders have continued to evolve with Usenet itself. There are a number of options when it comes to Newsreaders.

GrabIt_Reader

Image: GrabIt Newsreader

Configuring your newsreader can be a bit of a chore. You’ll need the Host Name, Port #, # of Connections and Username & Password just to do the basic configuration.

Today’s more advanced Newsreaders (usually not available for free) will do more than just let you find and download. They’ll also give you the ability to preview a file before you download it. No more wasting time downloading something just to find out it isn’t what you want after all.

Step 3. Usenet Search Engine

Now that you have Usenet access and a newsreader, you just need to be able to find what you are looking for.

Usenet is a vast collection of information. Trying to find what you want by scrolling through the newsgroups could take forever. Without a good Usenet search engine, you are trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Most modern newsreaders can process an NZB file. NZB files give your newsreader directions on where to find files on Usenet.

There are a number of NZB search engines available that allow you to search for whatever you are looking for and then download the NZB file. The better (and more complete) NZB search engines will often charge a fee to access their full database.

NZB_Matrix

NZB Matrix Search Engine

Once you’ve downloaded the NZB file, you can open it in your newsreader which will download the appropriate files from Usenet.

All-In-One Usenet Provider

While downloading from Usenet has become a lot easier over the years, there are still many people that don’t like the idea of having to go to three different places to get Usenet access, a newsreader and search engine.

All-in-one Usenet providers take the hassle out of downloading from Usenet by giving you everything you need in one place.

Still relatively rare, all-in-one Usenet providers are making it easier than ever before for non-geeks to get the full benefits of Usenet downloads.

Usenet Downloads

Usenet has come a long way in its 30+ years. Now all grown up, the modern Usenet is a massive collection of information that is accessible at blazing fast speeds.

If you enjoy downloading from the Internet, you may want to give Usenet a try. It will be unlike any download you’ve experienced before.

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Abhijeet Mukherjee is the founder, publisher and editor of Guiding Tech. He's a web publisher who’s been working online full time since 2008. He loves all things tech and has also written for some of the top blogs on the planet.