Is Usenet free to use?
No. Usenet users need to subscribe to a Usenet provider or buy a predetermined amount of data known as a block. Subscriptions usually cost between $10 and $20 per month.
How do I find a file on Usenet?
To find a file, you will need to use a Usenet indexer. An indexer is essentially a search engine from which you can download NZB files. These NZB files point to the locations of different parts that make up an entire file, such as a video file. Most indexers require registration, some are invite only, and some are bundled with a subscription with a Usenet provider. Good indexers will allow the user to filter by filetype, language, size, and other criteria.
What do I need to use Usenet?
To start using Usenet, you will need a Usenet provider, indexer, and newsreader app. You can read our basic Usenet set up tutorial here.
What is a newsgroup?
A newsgroup is a repository on Usenet. It’s similar to a subreddit on Reddit or a subforum on a forum. Everything posted within a particular newsgroup shares a particular theme. Two types of newsgroups are available to users: text and binary. Text newsgroups are primarily for actual discussion on topics like politics, science, health, etc. Binary newsgroups are for particular genres or types of files, such as movies and games. Users can subscribe to newsgroups to stay up to date on the latest content uploaded to the Usenet. Usenet groups often have arbitrary names, so finding the ones you are most interested in might require a Google search.
What is a newsreader?
A newsreader is a download management app that handles NZB files. NZB files, which are found and downloaded from Indexers, point to the location of all the parts of a file stored on servers distributed around the Usenet. A newsreader downloads all of these parts and stitches them into one whole file, such as a video file. Newsreaders can be used to subscribe to newsgroups and automate downloads as well.
Is Usenet safe? Is it legal?
The underlying technology is both safe and legal, but remember that content on Usenet is user-generated with few restrictions on what can be uploaded. Usenet today is often used to download copyrighted material, which is illegal in most parts of the world. Unscrupulous users might take advantage of Usenet to spread viruses or malware, so use your best judgment and be wary of anything suspicious. To keep your Usenet activity private, we recommend using logless providers that don’t track your usage. Additionally, providers that offer downloading over encrypted SSL connectoins are preferable, and you can make the entire process even more secure by connecting through a VPN.
Disclaimer: Comparitech does not endorse or recommend any copyright restrictions are breached and does and will not endorse or recommend the illegal accessing, downloading or viewing of any content. Please respect the rights of copyright holders and remember that illegal downloading of content is not a victim-less crime.
Why not just torrent for free instead?
Three reasons: 1) Usenet is more private than BitTorrent. BitTorrent connects your computer with any number of strangers, and no amount of security measures can take away from the fact that you’re identity is at least somewhat compromised when using it. 2) Usenet downloads are much, much faster — usually as fast as your internet connection can handle. Unlike torrenting, it doesn’t depend on peers seeding files to work. Instead, Usenet providers keep files for a set retention period, usually several years. 3) Usenet users don’t ever need to upload anything, which makes you legally less liable and is less resource-intensive for your computer.
For more information on torrenting check out our guide which addresses questions around if torrenting is safe and legal.
Can I download as much as I want?
This depends on which plan you purchase from a Usenet provider. Most are capped at a certain number of gigabytes, while other are unlimited.
Which Usenet providers are the best?
Check out all of our Usenet provider reviews on Comparitech to find out which one best suits you.
How do I post something to Usenet?
Posting text to Usenet is similar to sending an email. Just subscribe to the newsgroup you want to post to, compose the post in your newsreader app, and add a subject and body.
Posting a binary file is far more complicated and will require a separate tutorial to cover in detail. Stay tuned for our tutorial on posting binary files to Usenet.
The download didn’t work. What should I do?
Sometimes files are broken because the retention period expired, the file was corrupted, or the provider was ordered to take it down under a DMCA request. For this reason, many Usenet users buy backup block accounts in addition to an unlimited subscription. So long as the two providers are on separate Tier 1 networks (i.e. they operate on different servers), then what’s unavailable on one provider might well be accessible on another. If you don’t want two separate accounts, then try searching for another version of the file you are looking for.
What are Sickbeard and Couchpotato?
Sickbeard and Couchpotato are specialized newsreader apps for TV shows and movies, respectively. They will automatically scan Indexers for content you are interested in, download the files from your Usenet provider, sort them, and add metadata about each file. They also have limited torrent functionality.