How Usenet Works
Usenet has been around for decades, however, only in 2010 did it really start to gain traction with the media/file sharing junkies. The main reason for this is that you can download at sustained speeds without ever having to seed. Additionally, you can access the files for months if not years after they have been posted without worrying that they have disappeared. This luxury is not free though, and you will typically have to pay between $10-$20 per month on top of your internet plan in order to access the ‘Newsgroups’ where all the files are stored.
So how does it work? It’s simple, actually. Someone uploads a file to a Usenet server and then generates an NZB file that tells a Usenet Client where to get the files associated with that NZB. It’s essentially the same thing as a .torrent file that tells your BitTorrent program where to start downloading the main file. Only in this case, the file is in just one place, and you can download it with insane speed. Usenet is all about convenience, and you have to pay for that convenience, but man is it worth it.
Usenet: Pros & Cons
So now that you understand how Usenet works, it’s time you understand the Pros and Cons so you can efficiently use this technology to download your files.
+ Selection: Usenet gets everything that BitTorrent gets and more. Plus, when a BitTorrent file stops being seeded, it’s done for. But with Usenet retention at or beyond 1000 days at this point, you don’t have to worry about your file disappearing any time soon.
+ Speed: INSANITY. With Usenet, the only thing limiting your speed is your service provider. Whenever I’m downloading a file from Usenet, I max out my 10mbit connection. Recently I was at my friend’s house with a 150mb fiber line and anything he selected on Usenet downloaded at a steady 18mb/sec.
+ File Sizes: Usenet is the playground for large files. It is not uncommon to see files that range from 1 to 100GB, and they all download at blazing speeds.
= Insecurity: Usenet is still fairly new so no one has really bothered with going after people on Usenet. It is possible, but it is less likely.
- Cost: There are a few fees involved with getting started and continuing use of Usenet. First and foremost, you have to pay for Usenet Access which will easily cost you between $10 and $20 per month on top of your internet provider. There are no free options. Then you will probably want to join an NZB site (a place that hosts NZB files) and that can be around $10. Lastly, should you not decide to use SABnzb+, you will have to pay for a Newsgroup Reader, and the one that I recommend is $29. This may seem like a lot of money just for convenience, but once you try it you will see that it is worth it.
Conclusion: As you can see, the only downside is that it costs money each month. As far as using Newsgroups, it is just as easy as BitTorrent, without the hassle of downloading incomplete files or having to seed the same file to other people. However, if you don’t need all the media in the world, it may not make as much sense to use Newsgroups as it would be overkill. Fortunately, you can try out Newsgroups for free to see if it is something you could benefit from. And in the end, this is not a “one or the other” debate, you should use both BitTorrent and Usenet to compliment one another. More often than not, I’ve found that odd files I’m looking for are only available on one protocol or the other!
Purchasing Usenet Access
The first step, before you can even think about downloading any files on Usenet, is to obtain access to a Usenet Server. There are numerous Usenet servers out there, some with different price points and various other features. After reviewing a fairly good number of them I settled on PowerUsenet. It is $14.95/month and has never given me any problems. I encourage you to give them a try as they also have a free trial. Once you see the amazing access to media you have with newsgroups you will agree that this is a monthly fee worth paying.
1. Go to PowerUsenet
2. Click the ‘Power User’ image on the right side of the screen.
3. Fill in all of your billing info. You will automatically receive the 5-day/10 Gigabyte trial.
4. You will receive an email with your User Name, Password and Server information.
5. Save this information for when you set up your Usenet Client.
Setting Up Your Usenet Client
There are two Usenet clients that I recommend, SABnzbd+ and Unison. SABnzbd+ is the more difficult of the two, so I have created a separate tutorial on that walks you the entire process, step by step, which you can access below. Unison on the other hand, is extremely easy to use. So instead of making a tutorial that just discusses how to set up the program, I have instead created a video that walks you through the entire process of getting Usenet Access, downloading and installing Unison as well as (jumping ahead and) getting your first file to download from NZB Matrix. You can see that video below below.
Obtaining NZB Files
Just like .torrent files for BitTorrent, for newsgroups you have .NZB files. There are a lot fewer sites for NZBs than there are for BitTorrent files, but the few that are out there contain a majority of the files circulating around the internet. My personal favorite site is NZBMatrix and you can access the last two weeks of files for free when you open an account. In order to access all of the features, you will be required to upgrade to a premium account ($10 – one time fee), but as you will soon see, it is easily worth it.
Another excellent site is NewzBIN, but for the most part, you only need to stick with one of these two sites.