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How To: Choose a Usenet Provider

by Tracy Knauer •

If you’re trying to find the best Usenet provider, you should understand some basics about the differences between different Usenet providers, and what makes one more private or secure than another. Keep reading for a quick overview of Usenet features.

For a longer guide to Usenet providers, see our article “Best Usenet Provider of 2016.” But here’s the short version of what to look for:

  • Header retention length. Header retention refers to how long newsgroup content, including downloadable files, remains available. Providers tend to vary substantially in their header retention period, from anywhere between a few months to several years. The longer the header retention, the better.
  • Download speed. Some Usenet providers have better bandwidth than others. If you are on a low-speed connection or don’t plan to download a lot of content, this may not matter much. But it could be worth paying more for a provider with higher speeds if you can take advantage of them.
  • Data cap. Some providers limit how much data you can download each month. Others don’t. Before committing to a provider, you should try to estimate how much data you’ll use.
  • Payment options. If you care about privacy, you will want a Usenet provider that lets you pay through Bitcoin or another anonymous payment method. That means your account is not linked to personal information, in contrast to paying via a traditional credit card.
  • Provider location. The geographic location of your provider can also matter for privacy. Companies based in countries whose governments do not have strong policies on Internet censorship, such as the Netherlands, are best. Companies based there are less likely to respond to attempts by content providers (particularly DMCA requests) to censor Usenet.
  • Price. Unsurprisingly, price varies widely for Usenet access. In general, you should expect to pay at least $100/year. If you can get all the features you want for less than that, you are probably getting a deal. For providers that have no bandwidth cap and reliable service, you may have to pay closer to $150/year. But some providers offer better value than others. If price is a major factor for you, look closely at the features of each company before deciding if it is worth the price.

That’s Usenet in a nutshell. Again, for a longer discussion of all of this, and specific recommendations for Usenet providers, see our article here.

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