2-Access Usenet

Step 2 has the following sections:

See Figure 1 which is referred to throughout this tutorial.

Introduction To Usnet Access Top

In order to get to the Usenet you need access to the Usenet. The Usenet is accessible through your ISP just like your email and WWW access.

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will likely have all three types of service and grant you free access to them. Therefore, if you already have internet access, you also likely have access to your ISP's newservers.

Your ISPmay not provide much storage space so the material may be limited in quantity and because of the way news servers work, the posts may be fragmented or corrupt. As new material comes onto an ISP's news server, the older material gets pushed out, sometimes in a matter of hours.

In order to avoid these issues you may want to buy Usenet accessa news service provider who dedicates huge storage space for posts so that they are complete and available for a long time.

There are public news servers which are free but these are intended for text messages only so don't count on them for posts.

Enter Your News Server Address Top

Regardless of where you get your newsgroup access from, you'll need to know how to tell your newsreader to go to your ISP's news server or to the Newsgroup Service Providers news server. Your ISP's support website should have the correct address and the Newsgroup Service Provider will provide this to you when you register.

  1. You need to get the NNTP news server address to use in the setup of your newsreader software in STEP 3 - Viewing Newsgroup




  2. You need to find out if you can log on to the news server anonymously or if you need to use a User ID and Password. These should be the same as your User ID and Password for accessing the internet.

Download/Upload Caps and Limits Top

Because of the large size of the some of the files that you will download, and perhaps upload, to the Usenet, you will be consuming lots of bandwidth. The high-speed ISPs do not like this, so they will penalize you if you exceed a specified limit.

Often this limits are called "caps". They restrict the amount of material you can download/upload in a given period of time. It seems that 6 GB per month is an average cap. If this seems like a lot, it is only 2 - 5 movies, depending on the quality.

There is no denying that the small percentage of Usenet users downloading and uploading lots of material costs the ISP a disproportionate amount. However, it seems fairly obvious that this also represents an opportunity for the ISP to offer more bandwidth at a premium price .. I'd pay more to have 20 GB worth of bandwidth each month.

Buy Newsgroup Access From Newsgroup Service Providers Top

The difference between Affiliate goes here and your ISP is that a Newsgroup Service Providers' entire business is dedicated to ensuring you have access to the largest amount of content, for as long as possible. This means they have tons of hard disk storage, fast servers and high speed internet connections.

Note that because you will still be using your ISP's bandwidth to access these Newsgroup Service Providers, you are still subject to your ISP's monthly bandwidth cap. However, come out way ahead, because instead of the fragmented junk on your ISP's news servers you will be downloading complete files from a much larger selection of material available on the Newsgroup Service Providers' new servers.

You can buy Usenet access from

Buy premium Newsgroup access from one of those advertised on this site!

Public Newsgroup Access Top

There some NNTP servers that can be accessed free of charge. These are most likely provided by local community organizations. However, often publishing the address of an accessible site seems to result in such a load increase that public access is shut off. As a result they aren't widely published. Look in your yellow pages or go to your local library bulletin board to find a free net near you. It will likely have very poor content if any at all.

Sometimes an ISP will block certain newsgroups. Some Internet sites offer free NNTP service and their servers are referred to as Public NNTP servers. Many of the public servers cater to different sets of newsgroups. Unfortunately, they can be unreliable and because of the higher cost to host usenet groups (storage and bandwidth costs), they will likely only provide text posts.

Bottom line, don't count on using public Usenet access to use the usenet groups.

How Much Time Does it Take to Download Files?

If you don't have broadband cable or DSL internet access your ability to participate in the activities described in this tutorial are limited simply because dial-up connections are too slow to download 600 MB videos or 750 MB CD volumes. However, a 56 K dial-up connection is sufficient for downloading pictures and MP3's.I suppose there are people downloading entire movies (600 MB to 1.5 GB) but this will be a weekend project. With broadband internet access it is an hour or two at the most.

To give you an idea of the differences in speed, here are some comparisons of the transfer rate for a 10 MB file:

Source: Cablelabs

It is worthwhile noting that the speed with which you can upload/download to/from a commercial news service provider is limited to the speed of your ISP's web servers. This will likely be about 75% less than the speed you get from their news servers because you have a direct pipe to their news servers on their proprietary network (ie cable lines or telephone lines). The internet is in all likelihood slower than this unless you have connected to big pipes.


Many of the commercial news servers above will also provide you with anonymity in terms of "header" information that is included in your posts. The kiddie porn hustlers (please report these muther f**ckers when you see their posts) like this and so do the warez kidz. Actually, most people would probably choose anonymity given the choice between that and exposure to Big Brother's oversight, spam, crackpots, hackers, etc. Anyways, this is what makes the Usenet so hard to police and control. It really is the wild wild west of the internet.