A Beginner’s Guide to Usenet: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Guide to Usenet

What Usenet is used for

Created in 1979, and widely used throughout the 1980s and early ‘90s, Usenet was a communication platform that allowed people in different places to share information and ideas with each other. Today, Usenet is the same thing but offers more than just text posts, or articles. Now you can share an image, video, and audio files, and you can even access files from the past. Continue reading this article for a beginner’s guide to Usenet: everything you need to know to get started.

Usenet is composed of different themed newsgroups that share binary files. It offers unrestricted user-generated content, so you will be able to access more information on Usenet than you would anywhere else on the Internet, and in a secure way. You’ll also be able to access and download this information at incredible speeds. 

With over 200,000 newsgroups full of articles and binary files, you will surely be able to find the information you’re looking for. Here are a few key things you need to know about Usenet that will be helpful in getting accustomed to the original social platform from this guide to Usenet.

Common Usenet Terms

Newsgroups and Newsreaders

Newsgroups are discussion groups, similar to online forums or even Facebook groups. There are newsgroups for almost any subject matter, from news and entertainment to technology and the humanities. You can even create your own newsgroup if you can’t find one on the topic/topics you’re interested in. In newsgroups of interest, users can access, post, share, and download binary files. Newsreaders are how you search for these files; it’s essentially like a search engine.

Binary Files

There are articles or text files (made up of words) and then there are binary files. Binary files refer to images, videos, and audio files. You can even access binary files posted by Usenet users over a decade ago, depending on the type of retention period your service provider has to offer.

Retention Period

This refers to the length of time a file is available to you to download. The longer the retention period of a server, the more binary files you will be able to have access to. Retention periods are measured in days, with 1,200 days being the most common retention period for most servers. However, articles can have a longer retention period than binary files, depending on the service provider.

Choosing a Provider

The retention period is just one of the things you’ll want to consider when choosing a Usenet provider. Other things you’ll want to consider are the number of connections the service provider allows for, whether or not you’ll receive unlimited downloads of binary files, and how fast and consistent the download speed is for a particular provider. Taking all of this into consideration will help you get the best deal with the best provider.

Storage Space

Once you’ve found what you’re looking for and have quickly downloaded your articles and/or binary files, you will need to make sure that there’s enough storage space for these downloads. Some service providers will offer you a certain number of gigabytes worth of space on a monthly basis, while others will allow unlimited downloads. Yes, unlimited downloads will cost more, but you will never have to worry about not being able to download a binary file due to a lack of storage space.


Price is another factor that you’ll want to take into consideration when choosing a Usenet service provider; most providers offer a subscription service. When you find a provider that has a package that meets your needs, try the free trial period to get a feel of what Usenet is and what it has to offer to you. 


Now that you know what exactly Usenet is used for from this beginners guide to Usenet, the common terms and definitions, and what to consider when choosing a provider, you’re likely ready and eager to get started. Again, once you have decided on a service provider try the free trial, if offered, to get a true experience of what it’s like. Constant access to information on various topics that you won’t be able to find anywhere else on the Internet is indeed a great option to have. If you love to learn and share your knowledge with others, then this service is for you.


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