Newsgroups: the ultimate P2P alternative

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 17, 2006
Updated • Jun 9, 2013

P2P is in the news, every day. You see organizations like the RIAA hunting down file sharers, you read about Trojans and viruses that are spread through P2P networks. Everything seems rather risky at the moment. A new player is emerging from the shadows which is using a very old communication system, the Usenet. You might know a part of the Usenet if you ever read something on Google groups. Google Groups is an archive of the part of the Usenet that looks similar to bulletin boards.

But there is a hidden side, a side that many never heard about: The binary side. The Usenet holds also a large binary archive which is growing by 2800 gigabytes daily. Yes, you read that right, 2,8 Terabyte of files every day. All files (and the discussion as well) are stored in groups, like alt.binaries.dvd or alt.binaries.mp3. You can take a look at some of the files that are stored at the Usenet by visiting Binsearch.

It is a Usenet search engine that you can use to find files that have been uploaded to it. You can alternatively browse groups as well. If it finds matches you are able to download them, if you have a Usenet account and a program that is able to download such files, that is.

Difference between P2P and Usenet

So, what are the main differences between P2P and Usenet? First, if you want to download something from P2P networks you are always uploading the same file to other users while downloading it, provided other users are also downloading the file.

It is easy to detect file sharers by simply looking at the IPs of people who upload a certain file. If you use the Usenet, you don't upload at all. You download with full speed without ever uploading a single bit. You can of course upload files but you do not have to, and both actions are completely unrelated to each other.

Second, P2P downloads are slow most of the time. If you have only a few seeders the file may take very long to complete, if at all. Sometimes the seeders decide to stop seeding the file and you sit there with a file that is unusable. Usenet files are always complete once they have been uploaded. If you see the file you know it is finished. Sometimes there are incomplete files but this is seldom if you have the right Usenet provider and there is a way to complete those files even though they are incomplete.

I'm using a commercial program to download files from the Usenet, it is called newsbin. There are free tools out there that have the same functionality, one of them is grabit. I will explain how to configure grabit at the end of the article.

You also need an account from an Usenet provider. I'm using Giganews because it is the provider that has the highest retention (stores files the longest time) and offers the highest speeds of all Usenet providers. I'm for instance downloading files with 1,8 Megabytes per second using all the bandwidth of my 16 Mbit line.

Binary accounts to the Usenet are not free. Providers have to charge money due to the immense transfer volume of the Usenet. As I said earlier there are many Usenet providers, some are good, some are bad. Giganews is the best in my opinion, they offer three different account types. I'm using their unlimited account type, which means I'm allowed to download an unlimited number of files without download restriction for 34,99 $ a month. The smaller unlimited plan for $24.99 gets you access to the Usenet as well but less add-on products, more about that in a minute. The smallest plan lets you download 5 Gigabyte per month for $4.99.


You do get online file storage on top of that with all plans, and the plan that I'm using gets virtual private network access and a Usenet browser on top of that. If you do not need that, select the Platinum plan instead and save $10 a month.

So, the Usenet offers more or less what P2P networks offer. The pro is that you don't have to upload, that you can download with full speed and that RIAA and the like are concentrating their efforts on P2P networks and not the Usenet. The bad might be that you will have to purchase an account to download files from the Usenet in first place.

Let us take a look at the Grabit configuration.

  • Install and start grabit.
  • Just click next on the dialog until you see the main window of Grabit.
  • Right-click on my grabit on the left and select Add Server.
  • A new window appears. Enter the following data. Hostname: ; Account name: the user name Giganews send you ; Password: the password Giganews send you. Maximum allowed connections: the maximum connections for your account (select different values if you have a different provider).

grabit usenet

  • The entry should be updated automatically.
  • Right click on it (it should appear below my grabit) and select Refresh Group List. This retrieves all newsgroups from Giganews (more than 100.000 at the moment).
  • Click on all groups on the right to see a listing of all groups.
  • You can sort the groups by article count to see the most popular groups at the moment. You can also perform a search for some groups, for instance enter movie or binary in the search field.
  • Right-click a group and select subscribe to add the group to your private listing.
  • A + icon appears when you add the first group on the left and if you click it you see a listing of all your subscribed groups.
  • Select the group there, right click and choose full update to retrieve all files that are stored in that newsgroup.
  • The process may take a while at the first time because some groups hold lots of articles. The batch tab shows a progress bar of the downloads that are currently happening.

Clicking on articles will reveal all files that are stored in that group. New files are added all the time, it is worth to check groups more than once a day if you are looking for a special file. You double click an article to download it. It is really that easy.

It is of course illegal to download copy protected files and I do not encourage you to download such files.  If you are interested, the Usenet holds the largest amount of files worldwide, applications, games, movies, books, music and of course porn.

If you have further questions let me know, I will be glad to answer everything that came up during this long article.

Try out Giganews now.


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  1. Confused said on January 9, 2010 at 7:02 am

    This article confuses me. The author states that he does not download anything illegally. If that is the case, then there is no reason for him to be afraid of torrents and the RIAA coming after him. He wouldn’t have to spend an upwards of $300 a year to download non copyrighted material when that is free from p2p. So what if it is slower.

    1. Martin said on January 9, 2010 at 11:00 am

      This would only be true if Torrents and Usenet would both offer the files that are downloaded.

  2. p2presource said on April 23, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Good article, newsgroups are a real interest of mine and giganews is always at the forefront. I can highly recommend them.

  3. nsparks said on July 7, 2008 at 3:46 am

    UseNetVault offers FREE trial 7 days or 10GB of Access whichever comes first.

  4. tut said on May 24, 2008 at 7:06 am

    As your reading this Newzbin is being attacked by MPAA. They know about the newsgroups already

  5. Martin said on November 8, 2006 at 9:54 am

    nice fake RIAA. The nice thing with newsgroups is that you can’t be watching them..

  6. RIAA said on November 8, 2006 at 4:24 am


  7. binarchiver said on November 7, 2006 at 9:55 pm

    Good article, I’m talking about it all my friends, many of them has got accounts on news providers now :)

  8. mike said on September 28, 2006 at 8:01 am

    Can we have a list of Usenet Providers. ghack is doing a great job of disseminating information. information is not for only a selfish few to access. Keep it up.

  9. exactly said on September 24, 2006 at 3:55 pm


    now youre going to get everyone to know, and then soon enough, the RIAA is coming after newsgroups!!!

  10. noob said on September 23, 2006 at 5:20 pm

    yea please remove this page it will fu*k it up for us all!!

  11. STFU said on September 20, 2006 at 10:26 pm

    Agree, STFU!!!

  12. what the fukcs said on September 17, 2006 at 9:32 pm

    what the hell are you doing…….here guys this is what we do and this is how to catch us….i mean come on shut the fuck up and stop telling every noob how to do this cause it will be some retard that gets caught or someone that just wants to make a name to or kiss ass to a boss for promotion……shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

  13. mel said on September 16, 2006 at 12:42 am

    oh great.. now we going to have newsbie fcking it up for us when they get cought if they do ever get cought.

    newsgroup was my greatest secret because tops speed and no queuing waiting for no one, just leech and leave.
    I’ve been using for over 8 years now ;)

  14. Sven said on September 6, 2006 at 3:49 pm

    I use my Verizon DSL’s usenet access. Included in the price. I have a nightly scheduled task that scrapes the groups in which I’m interested. I use PictureAgent as a client, FWIW.

    If you use Thunderbird to read your mail, it also has a usenet reader.

  15. bob said on July 21, 2006 at 8:37 am

    powerusnet is great only 15 bux a month unlimted i have 6mbps connectiong and get that all the time from powerusent.

  16. basil said on July 21, 2006 at 1:57 am

    The less said the better :)

  17. gnome said on July 18, 2006 at 11:35 am


  18. Martin said on July 18, 2006 at 5:53 am

    I´ve been using easynews way back then when they offered only 6 GB accounts. They have a nice service and the web interface is nice. Still, I´d say giganews is the quality company, 70 days retention, 99% complete.

  19. marcus said on July 18, 2006 at 1:57 am

    well this as been around for soo long
    i personnally use
    they have a great web interface
    and a really efficient global search..
    and 40-50 days retention at 98%
    is 9,98$ for 20gb which can rollover to the next month if not used..
    + some more free gbs when using wgc and answering surveys..

    and well i use xnews as a regular client…

  20. Hornswaggled said on July 17, 2006 at 8:44 pm

    2 terabytes per day?? Are you kidding me? I knew the usenet was growing, my old roomate use to get stuff* from it. I use to use directconnect every once in awhile but mostly just checked it out based on curiousity. Maybe ill do the same with this, thats a crazy amount of info evry day.

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