Choosing a newsgroup service is not a science but there are a few important areas you can concentrate on to make sure the newsgroup service will meet your needs. We are often asked which Usenet service is the best. This really depends on what you are looking for. With so many choices out there we offer Editors’ Choice selections and reviews to help you in the decision process.
6 easy tips to choosing a newsgroup server
1. Free newsgroup servers versus premium newsgroup servers – I start here because so many people waste countless hours trying to find free access to newsgroups. We’ll save you the time and frustration by letting you know that you get what you pay for. Free Usenet access is fine for text groups but not reliable enough for downloading from binary newsgroups. If you think about it there’s no way you can offer the services of premium newsgroup servers without having peering agreements with other top providers. Without such agreements and substantial hardware investment the completion rates, retention rates, speed and reliability are dismal. Not to be confused with free Usenet trials which are a great means of testing Usenet providers prior to becoming a member.
2. Retention – retention refers to the number of days articles are held on a news server prior to deletion. Many newsgroup services will advertise one number for text groups and another for binary groups. This is to be expected since binary files take up much more disk space than text posts. This is a very important area to focus in on since you want to make sure you are comfortable that the newsgroup posts you are looking for are still on the server. It is more important if you’re going after binary files as retention rates vary widely between providers. All of our top 10 services offer high retention.
3. Completion – long binary retention rates are great but they don’t mean much if the files are missing or corrupt. This is an area where the top newsgroup providers really distance themselves from the pack. Some users carry subscriptions with two different Usenet services in order to increase the odds of completion. You will often hear them refer to the secondary service as the filler since it is used to fill in missing files. However a quality provider and PAR2 files should do the trick.
4. Bandwidth – speed is always a factor. Whether you are on a 50 gig connection, dial up or somewhere in between you want to keep an eye out for speed. While you can get by using dial up for text groups it is not recommend for binaries unless the files you are looking for are very small. Unfortunately when you are evaluating newsgroup servers most will use terms like “super fast” or “blazing speed” which doesn’t give you any real indication of what to expect. In each of our Usenet provider reviews we give the results achieved during testing. Also note that some newsgroup providers will sell you on fast access only to find out the speed varies greatly throughout the day. This is an area that can fluctuate due to many factors so pay close attention during your first month of service. We suggest starting out with a free newsgroup trial to make sure speed meets expectations.
5. Encryption – just about every newsgroup provider out there advertises that they offer uncensored, unmonitored newsgroup access. So you might be asking yourself why you would need encryption. Like everything else online it all comes down to varying degrees of privacy. Although the Usenet provider might not be monitoring your access that doesn’t stop your ISP. Your ISP might also limit bandwidth to NNTP (newsgroups). Some users encrypt their communications in an effort to get around this limitation. Most services now offer SSL encryption.
6. Price – like many things in life you often get what you pay for. Be careful of providers who promise a lot for a little, especially if their advertising is vague. There are so many choices out there that we certainly can’t speak from experience as to all of them but from those we’ve used we can tell you that services vary greatly. You might want to start by visiting our Editors’ Choice selections page which breaks down the prices of the top providers along with full page reviews for each. You can also view more options in our Usenet providers section.