The 3 Best Ways to Get Free Usenet Access: Free Usenet Trials, Free Usenet Servers & NNTP Sniffing
There are a few ways to get Usenet for free. As you'd expect, none of these ways are as easy or as high-quality as signing up for premium (paid) access, but hey, free is free!
In this post we discuss the three best methods for how you can get free Usenet access.
These methods can be used to access the alt.binaries (media files) newsgroups for audio, images and videos, but may only be good short period of time or be a bit “hit and miss”.
You're likely better off signing up for a reputable premium service after finding the best Usenet provider for your needs, especially if you want to use it as a safer substitute for torrent file-sharing. This doesn’t have to be expensive, as plans start at around $9 a month for full uncensored access to 100,000+ newsgroups, including thousands of the binaries newsgroups.
Free Usenet Access: Quick Answers
- #1) Free Usenet Account: many Usenet providers offer 100% free trial accounts, some as generous as 30 GB / 14 days
- #2) Use a Public News Server: lists of dozens of open news servers are available for you to enter into your newsreader and try
- #3) Find Open News Servers: use an NNTP sniffer app to find open news servers yourself [advanced users only]
Free Usenet Method #1: Free Usenet Trials
Most Usenet providers are willing to give you a free trial account. They're usually limited to a set number of days or data, whichever comes first. For example, Newshosting offers a generous & fully functional free trial of 14 days & 30 GB.
The fierce competition for your Usenet dollars means that the free trial deals are very good.
And there's no obligation to keep using the service, so it's a great way to get free Usenet for a limited time. Other than the time or data limits, these trials are usuall unrestricted and provide you with full uncensored access to all the newsgroups they carry, including binary newsgroups.
• easiest Usenet
• web interface (ideal for newbies)
• private / no logs
• 120,000+ newsgroups
• includes free, fast newsreader
• best customer service
Free Usenet Method #2: Use Open News Servers
There's another way to get Usenet for free: open news servers. Open news servers are free Usenet servers that are publicly accessible, sometimes by accident. There's no cost to access them, but they usually have a limited number of newsgroups.
Some open news servers are operated by educational institutions or Usenet enthusiasts, while others are closed (non-public) servers that were configured incorrectly. They can be slow, but it's still a way to access Usenet for free.
You can find lists of free Usenet servers on the web or, if you're an advanced user, you can dig them up on your own using an NNTP sniffer app (see Method #3 below).
We've listed some directories for public news servers below, just keep in mind that these types of links can disappear or go inactive at any time. If you get dead links, keep going down the list or just type “open news servers” in your favorite search engine.
- Open Directory Project (dmoz) List of Open Public News Servers is a good list of open news server sites.
- Publicly Accessible Free Usenet News Servers is a comprehensive and up-to-date site packed full of information that lets you search for specific newsgroups on open free Usenet servers.
Please note that your ability to access open news servers may vary. This happens for a number of technical reasons and means that although your friend may be able to access a particular open news server you may not be able to.
How to Use an Open News Server
To use an open (free) Usenet server, change your newsreader app’s News Server or NNTP setting (look under menu items such as Settings, Options or Preferences). In that box, type in the NNTP address of the specific open news server you want to use.
For example, if you want to try one of the open news servers listed in the sites above, you would enter the corresponding NNTP address (see screenshot).
Using this open news server, you can obtain a full list of its available newsgroups, subscribe to newsgroups and retrieve (read) messages, sometimes including binaries. You may even be able to postUsenet messages through some open news servers.
Top Tip – Never post through an open news server unless you are certain that no traceable information will appear in any of the message headers. The only way to be sure about this is to post a test message, retrieve it and carefully look at its full headers. The appropriate newsgroup for this is alt.test. Please follow proper Usenet etiquette and insert the word ignore in the post’s subject line. Furthermore, even if you are posting through an open news server which is currentlynot passing traceable information in the message headers, this can change at any time due to technical reasons or changes made by the system operator. This is why you should always first post a test message to check what information is appearing in the headers before posting messages.
Free Usenet Method #3: Find Open News Servers Yourself (Advanced Users)
Another way to gain free access to Usenet newsgroups is to find open news servers yourself. You can do this using a so-called NNTP sniffer app. In fact, the operators maintaining the open news server directories under method #2 above are using similar apps and tools to generate their listings.
Using an NNTP Sniffer App
An NNTP sniffer app helps you track down open news servers. Because you perform the search, this method has the advantage of finding open news servers that are accessible for your particular setup and circumstances. Recall from earlier that access to open news servers may vary from user to user for a number of technical reasons (your location, ISP, load on the servers, time of day, etc).
An NNTP sniffer app uses your own connection as a starting point and tries to find as many news servers as it can. Then, the app tests each one to see which are open to you.
Depending on the app, usually you will need to enter a starting NNTP news server address and a newsgroup that the news server carries. If you have Usenet access through your ISP, you can enter your news server (news.example.com) and use the alt.test newsgroup, or some other newsgroup that you know your starting news server carries. If you do not have Usenet access, find an open news server on one of the listings mentioned under method #2 above and enter its NNTP address as the starting news server in the sniffer app.
From there, the app will do the rest of the hard work, presenting you with a list of available open news servers and the newsgroups they carry. Depending on the functionality of the app, it may also tell you which servers carry binaries and allow posting, as well as perhaps the estimated download speeds and retention periods.
The screenshots below (with the server name results blurred out) are for the NNTP sniffer app software News Hunter 4 (free) http://news-hunter.software.informer.com/4.0/. If this link doesn’t work, try typing “News Hunter 4 NNTP” in your favorite search engine or torrent index search to find the app.
Best Free Usenet Server Access Wrap-up
As you can see, the expression “there is no free lunch” also applies to Usenet. By far, the easiest and most efficient way to gain good access to newsgroups is to find the best Usenet provider and pay a modest monthly fee for access.
However, the premium Usenet providers are also the best source – albeit only for a short period of time – for gaining free access to newsgroups through a generous free Usenet account (method #1 above).
Otherwise, you can get free Usenet access by using open news servers, either from directory listings (method #2 above) on the web or by finding them yourself using NNTP sniffing methods (method #3 above).
Try all the methods for yourself and see what works for you. In the end, we’d recommend that you do yourself a favor and invest as little as $9 a month for good and reliable Usenet access.