The word “torrenting” or “bit torrent” has become an extremely well known name, so well known that even if you don't make use of it yourself, you will most likely have certainly heard of the word. The bit torrent network is an excellent method of distribution, but with this clever distribution technique it also lends itself to a darker side, this encapsulates a side where the distribution of large files becomes not only fast, but convenient.
When methods to distribute large files easily without a centralised network take flight then pirated software, movies and other “warez” are not far behind.
There is however another system which has been around a lot longer than Bit Torrent and it is known as Usenet. Contained within the Usenet system are groups known as Newsgroups. These are similar to forums or perhaps even Reddit in that there are groups dedicated to pretty much any topic you can imagine.
The internet has rapidly developed over the past 10 years and easier, more web friendly systems of discussion have been developed such as forums, Reddit and the like. With users now able to make use of instant communications or personal type websites such as Facebook and Twitter, the popularity of Usenet has somewhat diminished.
Although the popularity of Usenet as a messaging system is not what it once was, it has long been and still a popular method of distributing files.
What is the best way to access Usenet?
You can generally access Usenet directly via your ISP although over the years many ISPs have removed groups that contain what would be considered copyright material. You can still access message groups but if you're after particular files then you'll need to sign up to a Newsgroup provider. The difference between a Newsgroup provider and the access available via your ISP is that the majority of newsgroups are available including the ones your ISP have removed.
Now of course I'm not suggesting you access copyrighted material if it is illegal in your country, regardless of if a newsgroup provider provides access to such groups, it would still be illegal for you to download if that content is illegal in your country.
There are a handful of Newsgroup providers but one that I have found the most user friendly and reliable over the years is called Easynews.
What is Easynews?
Usenet itself is rather cumbersome to use, especially in this web enabled world. In the early days you required a newsreader which was a separate piece of software. While not overly complicated to use it did require for larger files more work putting together parts of files. In 1994 Easynews was launched. I first stumbled across Easynews in around 1999 and have pretty much been a member ever since. Easynews takes out the hassle of searching through masses of topics and actually combines the binary files together for you.
How this eases the process is you can generally search through for a specific file by name, be it video, audio or image. You can of course still browse through the individual groups by specific name or just look through them randomly if you please.
Easynews released their Global Search 2.0 in recent years which has only further added to the ease of use allowing simple thumbnails of videos and images. Audio files also have the possibility to be previewed by playing a small sample before download.
Due to the mass of data that is available, local newsgroup systems such as those available via your ISP only carry a small history of files, this could be anything from a few days up to about 30 if you're lucky. However after this the data is so large that most ISPs don't carry anything further so finding items from past history is almost impossible. One of the further benefits of the system that Easynews provide is they have a data retention system that stores and archives the older material, this means you can access files from many moons ago, currently they have a maximum 2244 days of data storage depending on package which is massive and is over 6 years worth of goodies.
How much does it cost?
Easynews makes Usenet much easier to use, hence the name Easynews and to be honest it adds a wealth of features that make paying for the service well worth while. Although Usenet is “free” in the sense something like email is free, the actual added service you get from Easynews more than makes up for the payment. Imagine it as Usenet but improved.
There are 3 (well 4) types of packages you can take at Easynews.
Classic Plan @ US$9.98
- 20 GB/Month downloads
- 365 Days Web Retention
- 1GB Loyalty
Plus Plan @ US$14.97
- 40 GB/Month downloads
- 525 Days Web Retention
- 2GB Loyalty
BigGig Plan @ US$29.94
- 150 GB/Month downloads
- 1830 Days Web Retention
- 12 GB Loyalty
Unlimited NNTP @ US$9.95
While the unlimited NNTP plan is superb value it also means accessing in the traditional manner via a newsreader program. For the excellent web interface which in my humble opinion is what seals the deal of the service then taking a look at one of the other plans is the way to go.
For simplicity and ease of use the web interface really brings the service to life and with the added retention lengths which can be extended on all packages for a small fee it makes a very exciting service indeed. One negative of torrents is the speeds achievable may not always be the peak of your internet connection, the service of Easynews suffers no such negative and the full speed of your internet connection will be possible.
A 14 day free trial is available allowing you to see the system working without needing to pay up front.