What is Usenet and What Makes It Different From Torrent

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Introduction to Usenet

Usenet is a user-friendly platform for sharing and uploading files. It doesn’t have as much of a following as other platforms such as Torrents, though much of that platform’s content originated on Usenet. Although Torrents has some great features, Usenet has numerous benefits that many internet users would wish they’d known about a little bit earlier.

Usenet is a worldwide system that consists of newsgroups that are organized by subject to facilitate Internet discussions. It is among the largest file-sharing networks in the world today. The network is hierarchically organized in groups known as newsgroups, with the largest set being the alt binaries hierarchy. Newsgroups are distributed across a vast and ever-changing range of different servers that store and pass the information to each other.

There is no central newsgroup administrator or central server. With no central server, this means that no single provider or company runs it. Usenet content is rapidly growing in popularity because it’s never been regulated, which is the policy even today. The unregulated upload freedom that Usenet provides is the reason for its continued growth for the last 25 years. Although this freedom is a blessing, it can also be a curse in that spam can be uploaded. However, despite the occasional spam, the forum is much more secure than the familiar Torrents.

The most common set of newsgroups are called alt binaries. Alt binaries are an alternative option to the mainstream newsgroups, as the prefix suggests. Alt binaries were rejected from the typical news-groups as they were known to have significant file sizes. They are hierarchies of news-groups devote to files.

When accessing Usenet, one needs some sort of software just as with other file-sharing platforms like Torrents. The needed software is easy to install, and downloading from Usenet is easy if you choose one of the most common packages like SABNZBd or Newsbin.

History of Usenet

Usenet was conceived in the late 1970’s as a networked discussion forum where enthusiasts would post and read messages, as well as argue and debate issues. At that time, computers were becoming sophisticated enough that casual basic communication was possible. The idea was born by two Duke University students who came up with the idea of using the Unix-to-Unix Copy Protocol (UUCP) to connect machines so that information could be exchanged among users. A small network of three computers was set up in North Carolina.

Usenet was among the pioneer platforms used to share files and was created even before the World Wide Web. It was a decentralized system without a real owner. Due to the lack of regulation and its anarchic nature, Usenet prospered. It grew massively as it became possible to post files to newsgroups. As internet capacity and hardware grew, it became easy to post computer files known as binaries in newsgroups. Since then, Usenet’s growth has soared as it became one of the largest and most secure platforms to share data.

Ease of Use

Usenet is made of different newsgroups which assist in the categorization of the files. When using Usenet to download files, you need software known as a newsreader. After installing the newsreader software, you will be able to use it to access groups that interest you. It’s a lot like how you need a web browser to access the web.

Although some of the best software is not free, they do perform a lot of tasks for their users which makes them worth buying. For instance, the behind the scenes download process is a little bit complex. This is because there are file size limitations for each upload. These file limits do not accommodate big files, like software and movies or even large pictures. As a result, these large files are divided into smaller units to make up the whole content that will then need to be placed back together after being downloaded. However, the software you use will gather all these parts and put them back together for you automatically. Although this action is not visible to the users, it takes place in almost every download.

Usenet providers

Usenet providers are used for facilitating access to newsgroups after you have the software that you need for access. There are very few free providers and they usually provide a very limited selection of groups and have an equally short retention period. Retention time is the period that a Usenet provider keeps posts before erasing them to make room for others. If the content that you want is deleted, you will have to wait until someone reposts it.

However, this is not much of a problem with commercial providers. The retention period with most of them is several years. A Usenet Storm also gives access to a large selection of newsgroups, provides end to end encryption, and some also provide the newsreader software you will need to access.

The Benefits

There are many benefits associated with Usenet in the sharing of files. The main three are as follows:

  • High speeds. Your Internet provider is the only limit for file sharing speeds.
  • Privacy – If you are using SSL encryption, your activities will remain private. With this encryption there is anonymity.
  • Sharing is not required. Once you download your files, it is not necessary to share them as is the case of torrents.

Comparison between Usenet and Torrents

They are different platforms for download files, with each having its benefits. When using cost as the deciding factor, Torrents will be the first choice. However, if one is looking for features and safety, it quickly becomes clear that Usenet is better, as itt has a lot of benefits.

When using bandwidth and raw speed to compare the two, you will see the most noticeable difference. The speed of Usenet downloads is only limited by the speed of your connection, which can lead to speed advantages 10x that of Torrents as the servers are directly accessed for data download. In Torrents, download speeds are dependent on the number of users connected and the number of seeds.

Higher security and anonymity are other benefits of using Usenet. IP addresses cannot be accessed from the outside, meaning it can be used entirely anonymously. The Usenet providers usually don’t keep any log files about activities and downloads. These providers purely gather data about the amount of traffic used if you don’t have an unlimited account. In Torrents, it is effortless to know who conducted which download due to lack of SSL encryption. Also, in Torrents, you have to distribute data since it is a P2P network which gives out information on your location.

The retention time for Usenet is longer than Torrents. Articles and data retention time in Usenet vary with providers but often its several years while in Torrents its approximately one month. Moreover, Usenet gives one the opportunity to repair faulty or incomplete files with PAR files.

A drawback for Usenet is the fact that you need to pay a provider to be able to access it. Torrents are free in theory, but in today’s world, one needs a VPN or even a seedbox service. VPN’s cost money. In many parts of the world, its cost the same as many Usenet providers. With that in mind, you can make an informed choice what is the most cost-effective for you.


Usenet is a technology with great potential, which has not been fully exploited. It represents a piece of the wild west that the Internet used to be, and is an underdog with enormous benefits if only many file-sharing enthusiasts knew about it.

People are starting to appreciate its benefits as security becomes more of an issue. Your privacy is protected as there is anonymity when downloading that just isn’t possible with other platforms.

Usenet is not perfect, but it is useful. The difficulties that may sometimes come up are just a small part of the incredible technology and it is ideal for sharing files.