2. Picking a Usenet Provider
Usenet is not a peer-to-peer network. It is based on servers which need to host petabytes of data and are constantly uploading massive amounts of bandwidth to it’s users. Of course, that means, generally speaking, Usenet is not free.
Picking a provider is an important consideration and sometimes it takes a bit of shopping around to find the right provider, or combination of providers.
Things to Consider
- DMCA – Usenet is frequently targetted by DMCA takedown requests and most providers will comply with these on the spot to avoid legal issues. This can mean that when you go to download files, they are gone before you get there. Different providers will comply with DMCA takedowns faster then others, and some European providers will flat out ignore the DMCA for as long as they can hold out.
- Speed – Depending on how fast your internet connection is, and how fast you want to download, you may need to look at higher tier providers who won’t have any trouble filling that 200Mbs pipe you have. If you have fast internet you will also want to consider peering to the server… ie: if you create an account with a NL provider and live in the USA, your speeds are going to suffer.
- Logs – Some providers will intentionally not keep logs of transfer activity to retain privacy of their customers (particularly against law enforcement). Knowing who does and doesn’t is import.
- Price – Well, duhh… Everyone wants a deal. Finding that perfect balance of cost vs function & performance is part of the battle.
Unlimited/Monthly vs Block – What’s the difference?
An Unlimited or Monthly account means you are paying per month for either unlimited access to the server or a certain quota available to you each month. Generally these are the best choice if you are planning on fairly heavy usage and typically used as a “Primary” account.
A Block account means you are buying a chunk of bandwidth to be used at your leisure. Block accounts don’t require recurring payments and your quota does not expire after a month, you are free to use it as you please. The trade off with a Block account is that the price per GB is usually quite high compared to a monthly plan. Unless you are a very very light Usenet user, it does not typically make sense to use a Block account as your primary downloading source.
So why do we even care about Block accounts?
Articles get lost. And Articles get removed due to DMCA notices. So, we use a Block account on 1 or more other providers to attempt to fill in these gaps in the file.
The importance of this really depends on how badly you desire completion. As we get into the automated part of the Usenet tutorial we’ll find that we can generally beat the DMCA to the punch but you will encounter failed downloads from time to time. If you don’t have a backup account you can always get the file elsewhere, but some people prefer to keep all their eggs in the Usenet basket.
If you decide to go with a Block provider as a backup it’s important to remember to make sure your Block account is on a completely different network then your Primary.
Before we continue let’s clarify our terms for the following discussion:
Primary – An unlimited provider that you do the majority of your downloading from.
Backup – A second unlimited provider on a different network you go to for missing files.
Block Account – A pay-by-GB account you can use as a backup to your Primary for missing files.