File-sharing programs have advanced, but as programs become more sophisticated, users face the complications of increased data and correspondingly slow downloads. Data limits on mobile phones often make downloading information difficult if not impossible. There’s also the risk of downloading copyrighted material and the repercussions that could come with that. However, there is a little-known file-sharing platform that uses alt binaries newsgroups to post information, and commonly files. The platform is called Usenet, but even frequent users of Torrents have rarely heard of it.
Usenet offers users some distinct advantages over Torrents. The name comes from “users network”, and it was established formally in 1980 after preliminary tests during the late 1970’s. The platform uses network protocols that are similar to those used for Internet emails, but the information can be accessed by any user who has access to a Usenet news server. Unlike Torrents, however, the posts are protected by SSL technology, so your downloads are totally private and untraceable.
Usenet Enjoys a Commanding Role in Digital Development
Usenet began as a way to post messages in the early days of computer technology when bulletin boards were the most common method of communicating and sharing messages.
In the early days, it offered a decentralized messaging network that only allowed text messages to be posted to the network, but it has evolved to allow all kinds of digital files to be posted, shared, and downloaded. Today, more than 65 million files are uploaded each day. Each file is assigned to a specific category in a related newsgroup, so you can find files through NZB searches or just by browsing the files in a key group to find something interesting.
The Nine Major Newsgroup Hierarchies
The most well-known and popular newsgroups are divided into nine “hierarchies,” or categories, on Usenet. These include the following:
- comp.* This category includes posts about software, hardware, and other computer topics.
- humanities.* The humanities category explores literature, fine arts, classics, and philosophy.
- misc.* Miscellaneous covers many topics including topics about kids, education, and items for sale.
- news.* News doesn’t just cover traditional news but technical topics too.
- rec.* This topic includes sports, recreation, and entertainment and includes uploads of movies and TV shows.
- sci.* The science category includes all kinds of science such as psychology, physics, chemistry, and geophysical sciences.
- soc.* Social topics include information about colleges, world cultures, and other social topics.
- talk.* Lively discussions about controversial topics such as politics, religion, and posts about the origins of different schools of thought.
- alt.* Posts in this category are not subject to the same procedures that control the other eight categories. People can post more specific items about topics such as the work of a specific author, scientist or group. Alt binaries are the most popular subset of newsgroups, with over 90% of all files on Usenet being posted to one of these groups.
The Benefits of Usenet
The platform is a blessing for news addicts and download junkies. You can download privately without worrying about who is watching. Torrents expose all your downloads to track, and you can receive warnings that are soon followed by Internet blockages if you download too much, or worse if you download from work. The benefits of Usenet include the following advantages:
- Faster Downloads
Downloads don’t require waiting for seeds. Your speed is only limited by your broadband speed.
SSL encryption doesn’t allow any kind of monitoring of what you do when you’re downloading from newsgroups. You can enhance your privacy even further by using a VPN.
- Sharing Not Required
You don’t have to share the files that you download with anyone.
- Friendly Automated Software
The service works flawlessly with automated downloading software. Your downloading speed remains constant because the platform employs dedicated servers, not end users trying to shuffle around pieces of files.
If you want to take part in defined group discussions, you might not need Usenet Indexers, but they can be very beneficial for exploring newsgroups and downloading files. Indexers work like search engines do on the Internet. These indexers download the titles of posts and let you search this list of billions of messages. The platform has relatively low limits on file sizes, so larger content must be downloaded in parts and then reassembled, and indexers also help with this by providing NZB’s to use with your download software. Some of the top NZB search engines include:
It’s important to research potential Usenet providers because some issues can arise if you’re downloading many incomplete files. These might not be put together flawlessly with some providers. You can also automate your setup by choosing NZB software like NZBGet or SABnzbd.
How to Use Usenet
You should consider letting go of Torrents if privacy and speed are important to you. You do run the risk of downloading viruses and malware, but that’s true with Torrents and with all Internet activity. With both Torrents and Usenet, you need to get a download manager that helps you choose what to download and when to do it. In Usenet, these managers are often called newsgroup readers. Software like CouchPotato or Sickbeard can identify content that might be of interest to you and make the downloaded process fully automated if you want to go that far.
Not even your internet provider knows what you download when you choose good Usenet services due to SSL. When you request a download, your news reader software creates two folders, one for pending downloads and pieces of downloading files, and another for your completed downloads. After downloading, the software checks the file for accuracy and uses the temporary folder to repair any broken or incomplete parts. If everything is OK, the finished download is then moved to the completed folder.
Simple Steps to Get Started Quickly
You’ll need two things to get started: a newsreader and Usenet provider. Access is included with some Internet providers, such as Time Warner, but this is usually fairly restricted or censored. Even when it is included by their ISP, many people would still rather pay an independent Usenet provider like Usenet Storm (www.usenetstorm.com) to have uncensored access to newsgroups.
The important questions to research before choosing any Usenet provider are:
- Trial Periods and Easy Cancellation
Make sure that any provider offers a free trial period without any hidden fees. The cancellation policy should be easy and straightforward. There are known scams out of the Netherlands, so avoid any providers with a .nl on the end of the name.
- Binary Retention Capacity
It’s important to find out how many days the files are retained after their posting dates. Most services offer at least 300 days, and that may be sufficient for most files but there could be times when you need access to the original data in older files.
- Monthly Transfer Limits
Some plans offer unlimited downloads, but others have download caps. Using a limited account can let you get started really cheaply, but most people will want to move up to an unlimited account eventually. Start small, and upgrade as you need it.
- Number of Connections
You can download multiple files at once or large downloads can be received in numerous parts simultaneously to download even faster. The number of connections you are allowed governs the number of simultaneous downloads possible.
- Support Services
You’ll probably never need support, but it’s nice to know that it’s available.
Usenet offers an incredible number of advantages over Torrents, so why worry about the risks of downloading where everyone can see, and log, what you are doing? Usenet enables faster downloads with complete privacy. You can even enhance that privacy by using a VPN, which many major providers also offer. At one time, Usenet was a great resource but difficult for the average person to use because of limited software options. Today, it is no longer exclusively the playground of computer geeks because user-friendly options like Newsbin, SABnzbd, and NZBGet make Usenet a better alternative to Torrent.