What is the Usenet actually?

The Usenet existed even before the world wide web. In 1980 Duke university graduates Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis established the Unix User Network, which later was named simply the Usenet. It is a globlal electronic network which consists of Newgroups dedicated to certain topics. Those newsgroups divide the Usenet and its content into main categories. The first block of the name of the newsgroup designates the top hierarchical level. Next to the “Big Eight” main hierarchies (sci.*, comp.*, talk.*, humanities.*, soc.*, news.*, rec.* and misc.*) there is also the group alt.* which is not subject to any content monitoring. Hence, most of the so called binary newsgroups can be found under this particular hierarchy.

What content can I find on the Usenet?

While newsgroups within the “Big Eight” hierarchies consist of text-messages only, binary newsgroups consist of both, text-documents and file attachments, so-called Binaries. Any type of file can be posted and downloaded from within these newsgroups. Usually these files are fragmented and hence only available in compressed format (e. g. Rar-Files).

How can I download from the Usenet?

In many cases conventional usenet search engines do not allow users to search for binaries or make downloading almost impossible. Hence, many commercial usenet providers emerged within recent years, offering Usenet Software that simplifies the process of downloading Binary-Files. Given the growing amount of providers it has been become increasingly difficult to pick the proper provider.

What should you consider when picking your Usenet provider?

One of the important points is whether the provider offers a Download Client of his/its own. It can be quite tiresome to look for free download clients and figure out how they work. Hence, some providers offer a user-friendly download client which may prove beneficial for users who are not that tech-savvy.

Another important issue is the binary retention time offered by providers. Since each newsgroup is allocated a limited amount of storage every time new posts are made old ones get deleted in order to provide enough room for fresh content. The offered retention time varies heavily among usenet providers (between 200 days and 700 days).

The Download plans and prices also vary a lot. Users should look for a provider that suits best their download habits. Offers range from 1GB over 50GB to Unlimited GB per month with prices varying accordingly. Also watch out to what extent download speed is being limited by providers. In some cases you would be better off with a limited download volume with high download speed instead of a unlimited package with very slow connections.

What to do, when you experience any problems with your client? Browsing through the FAQs is an option, but what if you can´t find any solutution to your problem. Therefore, you should also take into consideration which support options are being offered by the provider.

Where can I find out more information about the Usenet and Usenet providers?

You can find further information on many websites, as for example usenet-deluxe.com which was launched recently. The site tries to provide people with information about the Usenet in general and also takes a closer look on commercial Usenet providers. Currently, there is a comparison of three commercial Usenet providers. The comparison of Usenet providers will be expanded on a continuing basis.

This guest article was provided by Thomas, a Usenet fan from Germany who recently started reviewing Usenet providers.

6 thoughts on “What is the Usenet actually?”

  1. A fair enough article, doesnt really tell much about usenet though. 5% actually about usenet and 95% about how to download schtuff and which providers to pick. I think many, myself included, would argue that binaries isn’t what usenet is all about (well, maybe in todays world with more flashy forums). Article started so good with a bit of usenet history, spice that up with more tech stuff and a bit of in why, who and where and off we go.


  2. I’ve never really dug deep into what usenet is except that I’ve heard of it as a multitude of newsgroups or something like it. Binaries? When someone said “there are only 10 kinds of people – 1 knows binary, the other doesn’t”, I am that other. Associating usenet with binaries thus puts even more distance between it and me, LOL.

  3. I was a huge fan of usenet back in the early 90s There was simply no alternative to it…. But what is the point of it nowadays ? Every subject on usenet has a forum somwhere on the web dedicated to it.. and binaries well.. first of all they should not be there, but if you really insist then the web has also got the same pics or warez or whatever you are into somewhere in it as well.. so again what is the point ?

  4. The article is general at best, but a good start off of what Usenet is about and contains. Personally, I prefer Newsdemon as my provider and they bundle up a good copy of Newsrover as well as part of my plan. Cheap too, the service is faster for me here in the states than Usenext.

  5. I always what USENET was. I saw places to purchase download plans, but without knowing what was on it, I had no reason to try it out. I still don’t know if it is worth it. I think I can find everything I need on the internet.

    Is there anything on USENET that cannot be found on the internet?


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