Best Usenet Providers 2017

We’ve thoroughly tested and reviewed all of the services on this page to compile our list of the best Usenet services of 2017. We test and rate providers for speed, security & privacy, ease of use, value for money, retention and completion rates. We also put customer support to the test to see how knowledgeable they are and how quickly they respond.

Provider
PriceVerdictRatingReviewWebsite
$7.95 (unlimited)The 12 month unlimited data plan is hard to beat for a service that scores highly on all fronts.
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$9.99 (1 month unlimited)We were very impressed with Newshosting. A great Usenet browser is included, completion and retention rates are high and a 30GB free trial is offered.
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$4.99Good all round service & we love the live customer support. Entry level pricing looks cheap but download limits won't be enough for most. More expensive plans are not as competitive as some other providers.
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$9.95 per month (unlimited downloads)Easy to use and good retention rates however the download limit scheme is confusing. Completion rates and download speeds a little below average.
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An overview of Usenet

Long before Reddit and BitTorrent, there was Usenet. Think of it as the original online social network. Established in the early 1980s, Usenet was a cross between email and web forums used to exchange text files between users.
Fast forward to the 1990s, Usenet gets an upgrade to upload and share large binary files, such as videos, music, and images. But when BBS forums like Reddit and the BitTorrent protocol came around, Usenet was largely left behind.

This 36-year-old technology is far from dead, though. In fact, many consider it superior to torrenting for sharing and downloading large files, including copyrighted content and commercial software. So why haven’t you heard much about it? Because the first rule of Usenet is don’t talk about Usenet. Usenet providers and users don’t want to draw undue attention to themselves, lest it suffer the same fate as file sharing services like Napster, Limewire, and ThePirateBay. But the entertainment industry is now well aware of Usenet, so pretending we are protecting it by keeping our lips sealed would serve little purpose.

What is Usenet?

Usenet is a global distributed discussion system, although these days it’s more about file sharing than sending messages. It contains two types of files: text and binary. If you’re reading this, you’re probably more interested in the latter. Binary files include movies, music, software, games, and other large files. These files are indexed in a .NZB format, which allow the user to download all the pieces of a movie or game from various servers.
Users subscribe to a Usenet provider that hosts files for a monthly or yearly fee. The subscriber can search for an NZB file, similar to a torrent file, that allows him or her to download the content to a personal computer through a “newsreader” app.

Usenet vs. Torrents

Why would you pay for Usenet when you can just torrent? There are several reasons. First of all, Usenet downloads are much, much faster, because they come from centralized servers instead of other people’s computers. Instead of peers, Usenet can connect to dozens of servers at a time, which means you can download at speeds as fast as your ISP can handle.

Secondly, Usenet is private. The connections take place between you and the provider’s servers, and most providers offer an SSL-encrypted connection. Some even throw in VPNs for good measure. Torrents, on the other hand, require that you share at least some identifying information in order to connect to the tracker and peers.

Thirdly, downloading a Usenet file doesn’t mean you have to seed it for other users afterwards. Legally, this makes you less of a target because you’re not supplying other users with copyrighted content, and it consumes fewer computer resources and internet bandwidth.

Usenet providers make files available for a certain number of days. How many depends on the provider, but the standard is more than six years after the original posting. Until that time is up, users have full access to that file. Torrents only stay up as long as there are people seeding the file.

Legal risks

Usenet evangelists, if they were prone to talking about it, would probably tell you that no one has ever been arrested as a result of a Usenet download. That may be true, but there’s a first time for everything, so we recommend you use a VPN or at minimum download through an encrypted SSL connection. No arrests on record doesn’t mean the Usenet sector hasn’t come under scrutiny. Major providers and indexers (see: search engines) have been shut down through lawsuits in the past. And just because individual users haven’t gone to court doesn’t mean they weren’t targeted by law enforcement or angry lawyers.

Comparitech does not condone or encourage any violation of copyright restrictions. Please consider the law, victims, and risks of piracy before downloading copyrighted material without permission.

Factors to consider when choosing a Usenet provider

Retention period, transfer limits, server connections, SSL transfers, account type, and server location should all be weighed when choosing a Usenet provider. You can find a more detailed guide to all of our Usenet criteria here.

What you need to start using Usenet

To get started with Usenet, you’ll require three things: a subscription to a provider, a newsreader client, and an indexer/search engine. Some providers wrap all three of these things into one tidy package. If that’s not the case, free newsreaders and indexers are available online.

We’ve got a guide to walk you through the full Usenet setup process here.