If you waste too much time on the Internet like I do, you have probably torrented all sorts of files such as movies or other forms of media. But what if I told you that there is a faster alternative to BitTorrent which can also protect your privacy?
That is precisely what Usenet is. Usenet is not some newfangled prototype. In fact, it is older than what most people believe when they think of the Internet. Usenet was originally created during the late 1970s to late 1980s essentially as a series of disconnected discussion boards and groups. But today, these groups contain huge amounts of data and files which anyone can download.
So why don’t corporations and the government crackdown on Usenet? To some extent, they have. But Usenet has been able to stay under the radar because there are a few catches with it such as that it can seem trickier to use. But it really is not that hard. Here are some key steps which even the least tech-savvy person can use to start downloading all sorts of files through Usenet.
Pay for your Usenet provider
When you download files through Usenet, you are downloading through server farms and not through peer-to-peer sharing. This better protects your privacy and also allows you to download more obscure files which do not have enough seeders. But it does mean that you have to pay a fee so that those servers can be maintained.
The fee is not that much, and most Usenet providers are willing to provide a free trial while you understand how Usenet works. NewsHosting, one of the most popular Usenet services, charges just $13 per month for their standard plan, which places no limit on the amount of data that can be transferred. That is an exceptional price considering the kinds and amount of data which can be downloaded.
Most Usenet providers will charge roughly the same amount, so users should look at other aspects to determine which provider is best for them. One of the biggest keys is data retention – because Usenet providers receive so much data, they have to periodically expunge older data to make room. Aim for a provider with a longer retention period. Other things to check for include how much data you can download and how many connections you can have at the same time.
In addition to a Usenet provider, you need a Usenet client. But what kind of client you get depends on why you intend to use Usenet.
The two reasons to use Usenet are to get access to interesting discussion groups via comp.* or news.*, or to download files. Essentially, you can get a client which can do one or the other, or you can pay for a client that can do both. If you are interested in a paid client, then I would recommend Newsbin.
If your primary interest in Usenet is to download files and you do not want to pay for a client, then the best choice by far is SABnzd. This client is very easy to install, especially because it now comes with a wizard which guides you on the steps.
One key point here is that when you sign up with a provider, you will receive via e-mail the provider’s server details as well as a password. Also, enter the number of connections which your providers allows.
SABnzd will restart at least once so that you can test the server’s connection, but once it is finished you will have the address you can use to get access it from your web browser.
How to Find the Files
So you have your Usenet client and provider, which are the tools needed to download files. But you cannot just type in “find usenet files” on Google and expect to get anywhere. You will have to find a dedicated indexer to find the location point from which you can find Usenet files, which are normally called NZBs.
Some indexes charge an incredibly small fee like $1 per year to run, and you should be willing to scrounge that little cash. But one of the big challenges with indexes is that major ones such as NZBMatrix have been forced to close down. Binsearch.info, for now, is one of the better indexes and it is free.
When you search with Binsearch, just type in the kind of file you want to find. It should be noted that the naming sense of Usenet files can be peculiar, so it can take you a while to get the hang of it. But once you find the file you want, click on the checkmark and the click the “Create NZB” button at the bottom. Your computer will download the NZB file.
From there, you can add the NZB file to SAB, and SAB will download the files, unzip them, and place them in your directory. From there, you can do it again, downloading and using all the downloaded information you can get.
Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com