Usenet Overview

Usenet (aka Newsgroups) has around since well before there were browsers and the internet as we know it. Usenet was the original discussion forum platform, and in fact was the way much of the discussion about the how to develop the World Wide Web was originally held. Usenet works as a huge message database, broken down in different topics or “newsgroups.” The database is hosted on monsterous servers around the world – with individual users logging in to any one of the news servers to read messages and add responses. The servers constantly compare against each other to make sure a new message added to a Hong Kong server gets copied to all the other usenet servers world wide so someone connecting to a server in Virginia, USA sees the new message within moments and can respond to it.

These newsgroup servers used to be housed mostly at universities, research facilities, and ISP’s but as Usenet grew larger and larger, private companies started setting up servers to improve reliability and accessibility. While there are still many, many servers running through schools, most people rely upon the privately managed Usenet servers.

For most people connecting to a Usenet server requires using a Usenet Reader program (aka newsreader). Once connected, they request a list of all the new message subject lines for their favorite newsgroups, and when they see specific messages they want to read, they select them and tell the newsreader program to download just those messages. What’s really cool is that over the last 10 years or so, Usenet has been improved to support file attachments, so conversations that need to reference a picture, sound, or video clip can do so. You’ll find groups that include “alt.binaries” in their name to be filled with attachments.

What will you find in Usenet Newsgroups? Special Interest Group discussions on Pinball Machines, favorite music artists, and of course, porn – lots of porn. Some ISP’s include very basic Usenet access with your normal Internet connection, but to get to the best Usenet Newsgroups, you’ll need to subscribe to a Premium Usenet provider.

The hardest parts about Usenet are choosing a newsreader and choosing a Usenet provider. That’s where Anchordudes comes in. Since 2002 we’ve been reviewing the easiest newsreaders and usenet providers in simple, everyday language. We recommend the best usenet provider for each category of user: Newbie, Bare Bones, or Super-User.

We also have sections on how to select a provider based on usenet account type, reliability, speed, and retention.  To make your life even easier, we have guides on how to select a newsreader program, and decompress usenet files, NZB files.

Although people use the term “Usenet” and “Newsgroups” interchangeably, Usenet is actually the architecture, and newsgroups are the individual forums that are shared. Either way, our Usenet Ratings have been trusted by newsgroup readers worldwide for nearly a decade. In addition to the Newsgroup Server reviews, we also do an annual back-trace on all the providers to see who is actually reselling another company’s services – so you know who you’re REALLY buying service from.

The pages on this site try to explain Usenet and Newsgroup Services in normal, everyday terms – primarily focused at normal Windows and Mac (i.e. non-geeky) users. As a general rule, you’ll find the results of our Usenet Reviews recommend only Newsgroup companies that are either completely controlled by or closely associated with one of the big three super-newsgroup-providers. We regularly re-evaluate the available plans, cross-check the providers’ claims, and then recommend the best usenet plans for different categories of users. You decide which user group you fit in, and we help you decide which newsgroup server company and plan fits your needs best.

NOTE: You’ll notice we don’t have a bunch of banners flashing in your face everywhere – that’s because we’re not interested in shilling the latest company that pays the best commissions or offers us a big bonus (see our page on our usenet commission policy). We just give you the facts and our true opinions about what’s your best bet for the type of use you might be.