Usenet Guide – Picking a Provider

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Table of Contents

  1. Introduction to Usenet / Newsgroups
  2. Picking a Usenet Provider
  3. What is an NZB and an NZB Indexer?
  4. NZB Download Tools – SABNzbd, NZBGet
  5. Automating Media Downloads (Sickbeard, Couch Potato, Headphones)
  6. Pros, Cons and FAQ

2. Picking a Usenet Provider

ryanlerch_thinkingboy_outlineUsenet 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?

hawk88_Calendar_1An 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?

blocksUsenet files are not whole items. Essentially a file you are downloading is broken down into hundreds, even thousands of Articles that need to be downloaded and put back together into a file.

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.

Top Usenet Providers

Listed below are what I believe to be the best Usenet provider options based on functionality, service and price. There are certainly more options out there and this is not intended to be a complete listing.

Supernews – Unlimited

supernews_logoSupernews is a Giganews reseller. Giganews, although less popular in recent years, has been the king of Usenet since basically… forever. They are fast and reliable… but… Giganews themselves are extremely expensive. Basically as expensive as you can get for a Usenet account. Supernews resells Giganews service and does so for a fraction of the cost. They have incredible retention and speeds that will cover all but the best internet connections. You are getting a premium service at a great price.

They also have a special offer – Unlimited Monthly Account, $9.99/mth or $99/yr

Astraweb – Unlimited

Astraweb_logoAnother great unlimited account with huge retention and strong download speeds. Although Astraweb is fairly quick with DMCA takedowns, they are also one of the primary providers that uploaders use. This means that if you are getting fed NZB’s (which we will get into) you have access to the data before it propagates and have a bit more time to beat the takedown.

FrugalUsenet – Unlimited

frugal usenetFrugalUsenet is a Readnews reseller. which is one of the top groups based in the US. As far as US providers go they have among the best completion rates and are a touch slower on DMCA takedowns then Giganews and Highwinds. The best part of Frugal is their price. $5 a month or $50 for a year. The trade off? .. Of course, there is always a trade off. They only serve a retention of about 1 year which makes them useless for older files. This means you’ll probably need a backup account or need to hit other services if you decide to start watching a new show that is already a few seasons in.

NewsGroupDirect – Block

NGD3NGD frequently has sales on their block accounts making them an awesome choice for a backup if you are on a budget. Their sales are frequent but unpredictable so you will need to keep watch on here, reddit, or make frequent visits to their site!

SunnyUsenet – Backup

sunnyusenetThis server operates out of NL meaning they don’t have to comply with DMCA requests and have strong completion. They also offer low bandwidth unlimited accounts for cheap cheap cheap. This makes them a strong option as a monthly sub “Backup” server to fill in missing articles from your primary.

TweakNews – Backup

twknsubh2Much like the above, this site operates in a place where the DMCA can’t touch them. They have probably the best completion rate of any server in the world against DMCA takedowns and also have low bandwidth monthly options available and occasional block sales. Some users complain that speeds are unpredictable making it not a great option as a primary server, but a great backup.

XSUseNet – FREE!

xsusenetYes… Free! They offer a 1Mbps connection for free which is painfully slow, but hey, it may get the job done for you. And if not it makes a great free backup alternative.


Looking for More Options?

The wonderful people at the Usenet sub of Reddit are maintaining an awesome list of providers that covers who is who and attempts to catalog the factors we have described here. It is a great place to start looking at your options if you don’t want to take my recommendations!

Next: Usenet Guide – What is an NZB and an NZB Indexer?

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1 Comment on Usenet Guide – Picking a Provider

  1. I use because it uses all tier 1 providers in one usenet account so almost no more DMCA.

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