If you never came into contact with the Usenet before, it is quite the challenge to get started. Not only do you need to select a Usenet provider to gain access to it in first place, you also need to pick a software that lets you do so, and understand how it all works.
Selecting a provider can be a frustrating experience, as you are confronted with new terms that you may have troubles understanding, or at least putting into context.
There is a lot that can go wrong here, especially if you pick a Usenet provider that is charging you for months in advance as you may lose a lot of money if you pick wrong.
First thing we need to do is look at the various terms used by Usenet providers to get a better understanding of them, and make educated decisions in the end.
Lets get started.
Before you pick a provider, you should be in the clear what you want to use the Usenet for. Will you be a light or heavy user, mostly use it to participate in discussions, to distribute files. or file downloads?
Once that is out of the way, you know whether you need unlimited bandwidth or can work with limited bandwidth instead.
While limited plans are usually -- somewhat -- cheaper than unlimited plans, it is important to understand how that impacts your downloading.
A single TV episode for example sits at around 250 to 300 Megabyte. Make it HD and you are at 700 Megabytes. Uncompressed DVDs are about 4 Gigabytes each, and Blu-Ray's can break the 40 Gigabyte mark easily.
Note: Those are just examples. I'm in no way suggesting to use the Usenet to download copyrighted TV shows or movies.
It is important to research the providers that you are aiming for before you sign up. What you want to find out are the following information:
You won't find those information on the provider's website. While you can test the support by opening a new support request and clocking the response time, it is usually better to use search engines to find out more about the provider.
Update: I switched to UsenetBucket recently. Their plans start at €2.95 per month for unlimited downloads capped at 10 Mbit. You can get faster plans for €4.95 (40 Mbit cap) and €12.95 (400 Mbit cap).
Once you have done the research, you may be ready to sign up. Most providers offer trials that you can sign up for, to test their service without committing directly.
It is a great way of finding out if a provider is keeping up its end of the bargain or not. If you notice slow transfer speeds during the trial, or many incomplete files, or other issues, then you should cancel the account right away again and head over to another provider.
Here are some tools and services that can be really useful to you, depending on how you use the Usenet:
You are probably wondering which provider I have selected for my Usenet adventures. I have been a happy Giganews customer for years, and see no reason in changing to another provider. It is a premium provider on the other hand, and if you do not want to spend that much money, you may find providers such as Newshosting or Easynews which provide nearly the same features for less than half the price.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.