Our Astraweb review provides a quick and easy look at how it stacks up against other top Usenet newsgroup providers on the market: Astraweb is a good, yet inexpensive Usenet provider with fast newsgroup downloads.
Astraweb Usenet Review: The Bottom Line
Astraweb has been one of the more popular providers on the market for a long time, thanks in large part to its cheap prices (from $8 per month).
Astraweb has been in business for over 15 years which speaks for itself in the often fly-by-night Usenet industry with providers coming and going on a regular basis.
But limited features, support and increased competition have all caused their customer base to shrink in recent years. Astraweb will appeal more to Usenet veterans looking for solid but inexpensive Usenet access, but beginners should look elsewhere.
Astraweb Review: The Positives
- Affordable plans, starting at just $8/month for unlimited downloads
- Offers both monthly and block accounts [i]
- 3,000+ days retention
- 256-bit SSL connections
- 99%+ completion rates
- No data logging
- Runs its own newsgroup servers in both the United States and Europe (the Netherlands)
- Unlimited speeds
- 20 connections (50 for block accounts)
- Accepts Bitcoin, for anonymous payments
Astraweb Review: The Negatives
- No free newsreader or VPN included
- Free trial is for only 24 hours and requires you to request a refund
- Website and UI are outdated and unappealing
- Customer service has earned criticism in recent years
- Speeds on regular unlimited plan capped at just 10Mbit/s
- 20 connections for the unlimited plan is fine for most, but power users will want more connections [i]
Astraweb: Other Good to Know Info
- Founded in 1998
- Astraweb does not engage in any reselling. Usenet reselling is when a Usenet newsgroup provider lets other brands use its infrastructure; a bit like Coke letting discount stores sell the same cola in bottles with the store's name on them.
- Owned and operated by Singapore tech firm Searchteach
If you are happy to pay with Paypal, Astraweb offers a nearly unbeatable deal of $8 per month for an annual plan. No deals or discounts are coupons for Astraweb are currently available.
Astraweb Usenet Alternatives
If Astraweb is not ticking all of your boxes for a Usenet newsgroup provider, check out these Atraweb alternatives:
- Giganews: Faster and more full-featured – but more expensive
Astraweb Review: The Gory Details
The materials above gave you a convenient snapshot of Astraweb. If you are seriously considering subscribing to Astraweb, keep reading for all the details you'll want to know before diving in (spoiler: Astraweb is good value).
Astraweb Focuses on Usenet and only Usenet
Unlike some other Usenet providers, Astraweb concentrates exclusively on Usenet access and doesn't stray into other areas such as newsreader apps, newsgroup searching or VPN (virtual private network) services.
Astraweb offers inexpensive but reliable Usenet subscriptions and "block accounts" (discussed more below), and that's it. All Usenet access provided by Astraweb is SSL encrypted and a number of payment methods are accepted, including Bitcoin 🙂
Astraweb relies on its reputation and, in further contrast to other industry leaders such as Newshosting, Astraweb does not offer any free trial accounts. This is discussed in more detail below in the section 'Drawbacks Revealed in our Astraweb Review'.
Newsgroup Servers in both US and Europe
With news servers hosted in both the United States and Europe, Astraweb subscribers never have to compromise on speed regardless of which side of the globe they live. You are always free to connect to the newsgroup server location of your choice.
Fast Downloading with Highest Number of Simultaneous Connections
Astraweb is actually miles ahead of most Usenet providers in offering a large number of simultaneous connections to its users. Subscribers with unlimited accounts are allowed to initiate a generous 20 simultaneous connections for fast newsgroup downloading.
Block account users are permitted a whopping 50 connections (that makes sense because with block accounts the more you download, the more you pay).
Top Tip - Essentially, block accounts are pay-as-you-go Usenet. If you want to learn more about Usenet block accounts, read our post 'Block Accounts'.
This means that downloading files from Usenet newsgroups is fast with Astraweb.
By the way, if Astraweb detects different IP addresses using these connections, you could have your account terminated, So, don't get any smart ideas and try sharing one account with your friends!
Astraweb's Usenet Plans
Astraweb's monthly subscriptions and its block accounts both represent good value. Looks look at each in turn.
Monthly Plans (Unlimited Downloading)
As you'd expect from the name, Astraweb's unlimited monthly subscription plans allow unlimited downloads. However, speeds are capped at 10 Mbps (for most people this speed "limit" will still be much faster than your connection can handle).
If you need faster download speeds, Astraweb also offers more expensive "unlimited DSL" monthly accounts with no speed caps either.
Astraweb's current subscription (recurring) plans are as follows:
- DEAL! Unlimited DSL (monthly):
$15$8 per month [Unlimited Speed] Limited time only!
- Unlimited: $10 per month [10 Mbps Limit]
- Unlimited (3 Months): $20 for 3 months [10 Mbps Limit]
- Unlimited DSL (3 Months): $39 for 3 months [Unlimited Speed]
Astraweb Block Accounts (Pay-as-you-Go Downloading)
Astraweb's block accounts have no speed limits. Again, this makes sense because the more you download with a block account, the more you pay. You can compare Astraweb's block account pricing to other Usenet providers in our 'Usenet Block Account' page.
Astraweb’s current block account plans are as follows:
- 25 GB: $10 One-off Payment [Unlimited Speed]
- 180 GB: $25 One-off Payment [Unlimited Speed]
- 1000 GB: $50 One-off Payment [Unlimited Speed] --> that's just $0.05 per GB!
Astraweb has Impressive Retention Periods
In addition to some of the fastest download speeds and highest number of simultaneous connections allowed in the industry, one of Astraweb's biggest strengths it is famous for is its high retention rates.
Astraweb boasts very high rates of binary retention, an important consideration for Usenet customers. Currently, Astraweb’s binary retention stands at 3,000 days. That means there are over 10½ years' worth of Usenet downloads available on Astraweb's newsgroup servers. Plus, their retention is always increasing.
Astraweb Protects Your Privacy Too
When deciding on a Usenet service, keep in mind your privacy. In particular, you want to keep your downloading habits under wraps. That is especially true for the weird and wonderful world of Usenet newsgroups where anything goes.
Astraweb is no slouch in the privacy department, offering strong 256-bit SSL encrypted connections to all users and keeping no logs of your activities. We're informed (but could not confirm as part of our Astraweb review) that they also facilitate anonymous posting (uploading) to newsgroups.
Top Tip - Not everyone wants or can afford to, but it's a good idea to use a VPN with Usenet. A VPN will hide from your ISP that you are downloading from Usenet newsgroups. As with torrent file-sharing, it is becoming more common for ISPs will throttle (slow down) your connection if they detect Usenet activities. But it's not essential that you use a VPN with Usenet, it's more "good to have".
Drawbacks Revealed in our Astraweb Review
Astraweb shines on price, value and speed, but could be better when it comes to customer service and offering free Usenet trial accounts.
Bare Bones Customer Service
Astraweb's customer support is not the best by most standards. Its online ticket support system works, but not as fast as most people would like when trying to solve an issue.
It would be ideal if Astraweb provided 24/7 technical support like some of its rivals, most notably Giganews which is renowned for its support. But this would no doubt have an upward impact on Astraweb's low prices.
Astraweb Does Not Offer Free Trial Accounts. Or Does it?
Bucking a trend, Astraweb does not loudly proclaim to offer free accounts for a trial period, neither in days nor gigabytes downloaded. Rivals such as Newshosting, Easynews and Giganews all thrive on generous free trial accounts of up to 14 days or 10 GBs, in the hopes of netting customers in this way.
Astraweb offers a sort of trial by technicality which is easy to miss in the fine print. Though not really a trial in the usual sense, Astraweb will honor cancellations and provide refunds that are requested within 24 hours (see screenshot below). If you plan to "test" the service relying on this, we recommend that you keep a close eye on the clock.
Astraweb Review Wrap-Up
In the final analysis, Astraweb has a lot going for it! This explains why this otherwise no-frills Usenet newsgroup provider has such a loyal following in the community.
One constant theme echoed about Astraweb, including in hard-to-please crowds like Reddit, is the consistent high quality of service provided by Astraweb at such reasonable prices. Veteran Usenet users attest to its high download speeds and great retention. Here at Cogipas, we'd also give Astraweb a nod for its user privacy policies.
It's true that our Astraweb review highlighted a few drawbacks, but it represents a great Usenet provider especially for those with a little Usenet experience under their belt who don't need a bundled newsgroup newsreader browser app or a lot of hand holding from customer support.
Absolute beginners may still wish to opt for Newshosting or Giganews for a more "full service" approach to Usenet, including their bundled easy-to-use software for downloading, but the bottom line for our Astraweb review is this: Astraweb represents great value for Usenet newsgroup access that's hard to beat.
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