Here we will cover picking a premium usenet provider. Unless your internet service provider (ISP) provides NNTP services for you, you will most likely find any free providers less than satisfying. For this reason, most people choose a premium service provider. Typically, people only have one provider, so picking the right one is important.Choosing the right provider can be broken down into the following categories:Retention Let’s face it: the number one reason free services are useless is they do not retain posts long enough to actually find what you are looking for. No one has the time to read 100,000+ newsgroups 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A good usenet provider will offer at the minimum several months of retention, where higher quality services offer 500 days or more of binary messages, and years of text messages.Reliability Downtime is never fun, especially when you are paying for it. If there is only a few dollars of difference between a provider with years of experience and a history of superb reliability and a service that offers a cheaper approach, remember, the extra few bucks may mean the difference between having a connection or a headache.Speed Because the files and messages you are downloading are being pulled directly from a server, versus a peer’s computer, download speeds should be fast and consistent. Skimping on bandwidth is common amongst newsgroup servers, with only the top rated services investing in gigabits of bandwidth. Always check to see if your potential provider limits their download speed.Along with speed, you should review the number of simultaneous connections you are permitted to the news server. Considering you may be downloading a file that is in dozens of parts, being able to download more than one part at a time can be the difference between minutes and hours. Modern news readers have no problem handling multiple concurrent connections.Completion According to Wikipedia: “Completion rates measure the useful transmission of complete binary files across newsgroups. Newsgroups function by a large network of servers which regularly synchronize posts with each other. Each time a post is transferred between news servers there is a chance that it will be dropped. There are many possible causes for a dropped post, such as high network traffic and dropped packets. If even a single post is dropped from a large file then the entire file will become useless. To combat this, par files were created. Many ISP News Servers do not have a link into the Internet backbone of the internal news network. They often suffer from resulting low completion rates.”
So, as literally millions of messages are synced (replicated) among news servers, some messages get lost. Servers with more, high level connections to the ‘backbone’ have higher completion rates, the best at 99% or higher.SPAM (or lack thereof) SPAM, or unsolicited messages, are rampant on usenet. Many newsgroups are so flooded with spam, finding real messages can be nearly impossible when viewing unfiltered headers. Thankfully, premium news providers combat spam at the server level, eliminating the hassle for subscribers. After years of being a happy subscriber to a premium usenet service, I can attest to how great it is to see messages instead of spam when I surf my favorite newsgroups.Security and Privacy It is getting harder to do anything online in private anymore. ISPs, universities, public wifi, etc. all leave your internet browsing subject to scrutiny and the prying eyes of uninvited guests. Some usenet service providers offer SSL encryption, the same encryption used for credit card transactions all over the web, to protect you from these unwanted invasions of your privacy. You can also get a secure virtual private network (VPN) to expand your privacy to your entire browsing experience.Other Factors Most providers offer plans that limit the amount of data you can download each month, although there are usually higher priced plans that offer unlimited downloads. If you are unsure of how much bandwidth you need, choose a provider that offers several tiers and month to month billing (no contract), then if you need to adjust to a more robust offering later, you can do so at any time.ConclusionPerformance and reliability are what has made the usenet the age old beast that it is, while security and long binary retention rates have made it the all time champion of file sharing online. It is affordable and accessible, with several providers meeting the needs of users requiring instant access to the media and information they demand.
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