Getting Started with Usenet

So you’ve been hearing a lot about Usenet and want to find out what all the fuss is about. Here’s how to get started. There are just two requirements for Usenet, a Usenet Provider and a Newsreader.

Usenet Provider

Usenet content is stored on a distributed, decentralized network of servers and you have to pay for access. Fortunately, this is cheap and the speeds are incredibly fast. It’s so fast, I can max out my 30Mbps internet connection. I recommend UsenetServer, which is what I use. For $10 a month you can get unlimited access to Usenet and encrypted SSL access. Trust me, it’s worth paying for.


You need a newsreader to get content from Usenet. Personally, I use SABnzbd+. It’s a fully automatic and very powerful newsreader. It’s become a bit of a standard. It runs equally well on Linux, Mac, and Windows. News? I just wanted to be able to download stuff. This may make a bit more sense if you understand how Usenet a bit more about Usenet. Usenet has been around since the beginning of the internet, and it was intended to be used for communication. Basically, Usenet was the precursor to forums.

While newsgroups were not created with the intention of distributing binary files, they have proven to be quite effective for this. Because of the way they work, a file uploaded once will be spread and can then be downloaded by an unlimited number of users.

So the file sharing bit should make a bit more since, and you should now that SABnzbd+ is only useful as a binary newsreader. Think download client.

NZB Files

So if this is all sounding a bit complicated this next part should make you feel better. Newsreaders like SABnzbd+ are smart enough to do all the heavy lifting for you. You make a visit to an NZB Index, just a website, and download an NZB file. SABnzbd+ opens it and starts downloading. It’s as simple as that. I know what you are thinking, this sounds an awful lot like BitTorrent except it costs money. Let’s take another look at Wikipedia.

More useful is that every user is drawing on the bandwidth of his or her own news server. This means that unlike P2P technology, the user’s download speed is under his or her own control, as opposed to under the willingness of other people to share files. In fact, this is another benefit of newsgroups: it is usually not expected that users share. If every user makes uploads then the servers would be flooded; thus it is acceptable and often encouraged for users to just leech.

No seeding, no sharing, no swarms, no IP address exposed for anyone and everyone to see. Just you downloading a file from a server.

What now?

Want more? Check out this post on setting up SickBeard to automate even more.

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