Usenet is a vast, globally distributed system of discussion and file sharing groups known as “newsgroups”. Users read and post messages called articles or news to one or more newsgroups which are then broadcast to other newsgroups interconnected via a wide variety of networks. Individual users with access to a Usenet server may then read messages from and post messages to, download files etc., using a Usenet client software called Newsreader.
Today, the importance of Usenet is diminishing, losing out to mainstream Internet services such as email, discussion board, web access and mainly Torrents, but there is no denying the fact there are certain decisive advantages of Usenet over Torrents. Top of the list for many will be security and speed.
Usenet is anonymous. Unlike Bittorrent where you broadcast to the world every bit of data you download, Usenet downloads are completely secure and private. Nobody can snoop on what you download from or upload to a newsgroup. BitTorrent’s speed depends largely on how many seeders there are distributing the files. In Usenet, the complete file is present in the Usenet server just waiting to be downloaded. On Usenet, your download speed is limited by the speed of your home connection.
However, unlike BitTorrent, Usenet is not free, which is a deal-breaker for those without a credit card.
In the past, ISPs used to operate Usenet servers for their users, but because of the large amount of data involved, and small customer base, many ISPs have discontinued Usenet access. Free Usenet providers doesn’t exist anymore, and even if they do, they probably server a small community of enthusiast well hidden from the rest of Internet.
Today, TorrentFreak introduced a new Usenet provider called UsenetStorm that’s offering free entry-level service. Furthermore, UsenetStorm reduces the complexity of Usenet downloading by providing access to binary content through a standard web-browser.
UsenetStorm offers Usenet binary files download over HTTP, through a process similar to the one employed by services that offer Torrents-over-HTTP download. Using a free Usenet search engine such as NZBIndex.nl or Binsearch.info, users download the NZB file and then uploads the same to UsenetStorm. They can also supply the URL to the NZB file instead of downloading to their computer and uploading. The NZB is small – a couple of Megabytes at most.
Once you upload the NZB file, UsenetStorm will grab the files you want from Usenet, wrap it up in a single ZIP file and store it on its own servers. When the file is ready to download, you will be taken to the download page from where you can download the ZIP file to your hard drive.
Free users are limited to 500MB per NZB file and download speeds are capped at 5mbit, which means you cannot download any file larger than 500MB. But you can download any number of files smaller than 500MB and any number of times. Usage is unlimited to everyone without registration.
UsenetStorm is a great service for anyone who wants to get a taste of Usenet but shying away because of the cost and lack of understanding and rumors of steep learning curve.