Usenet. What Is It? Do You Need It?

Usenet is one of those technologies that has survived through the ages, originating in the 70’s, due to it’s intended legitimate uses and partial obscurity. In true Fight Club style the saying among users is the first rule of Usenet is WE DON’T TALK ABOUT USENET! EP is certainly breaking that rule right now, but we are doing so intending to bring new users to the fantastic service; so please, Council of Usenet Elders, don’t cancel our accounts!

So, what is Usenet?

TLDR: Usenet is a system that can transfer information.
Back in the ’70s (1979) the internet as we know it was non existent. A few US universities, in an effort to share information, networked themselves together, and through some software magic developed by two Duke graduates, Usenet was born. The early system was a bulletin board where users could post and reply to topics. Over time the service was adapted to host binary content (files) instead of just text.

Ok… Cool history lesson, but what is the big deal?

TLDR: It’s faster and more reliable than P2P because reasons.
An interesting thing about Usenet is that there are no central servers. The entire system is decentralized (see image below).

Credit to Wikipedia

Information is relayed between clients and servers, and servers and servers, creating multiple copies of files and messages spreading across the entire Usenet system. The makes the entire system extremely fast and fault tolerant.

So, its like BitTorrent?

TLDR: You can use it to get files, but much faster!
Yes, and no. BitTorrent is a true P2P system that relies on at least one user somewhere sharing (seeding) the files you want. Usenet is simpler, allowing users to download files so long as the file exists on the Usenet servers. BitTorrent operates well when many users are sharing the same .Torrent. The shared file is broken into chunks, and those individual chunks are downloaded and reassembled on the client side (your side). If there are many users seeding, chunks can come from different users, resulting in higher download rates. Therein lies the problem; upload rates on typical consumer broadband connections can be slow. Usenet breaks files into chunks as well, but it doesn’t rely on other users hosting the files. The files reside on Usenet servers, and are frequently delivered as fast as your connection speed will allow. You read that correctly. Most of the time, you will max out your connection downloading from Usenet.

We get it. It’s fast, reliable, on-demand… But what can I download?

TLDR: Everything. Well, sort-of everything.
Out of the gate, EP is going to make a statement. We do not endorse or suggest using this service for piracy. Yes, you can download virtually any DVD, CD, BluRay, PC/Mac Game, or Software, but we aren’t telling you to. It’s possible to get the latest episode of hit shows like Game of Thrones, mere minutes after it’s aired, downloaded in less than 10 minutes on a 20Mb connection. It’s possible to find and download older shows like Farscape and classic Doctor Who. For all the possibilities, downloading and selling pirated content is not cool. There are plenty of Linux Distros, publicly available books, open-source software, and message boards to consume your time, legally.

What’s the catch?

TLDR: Good servers cost a little bit of money (~$9/month).
Quality Usenet servers cost money to operate and maintain. Companies like Newshosting, UNS, and Easynews offer fantastic discounts and awesome service. Check out some of the affiliated sponsorship, provided by Usenet Junction!

Alright, I’m interested. How do I get it?!

For a tutorial, look here. The article is a bit dated, considering that NZBMatrix no longer exists, but it will get you through. All EP asks is that when considering which Usenet provider to use, please come back and click on one of the promotion links above. They aren’t virus links, spam, etc, just cool deals for those interested. By signing up for trials and subscription accounts using the links posted above you’re actually helping keep Experience Points running! Thank you.