How to Get Started with Usenet

Has Usenet caught your attention, but you’re not sure how to get started? We got you covered. 

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Learn how to get started with Usenet in simple steps. 

Usenet has been around a long time but many people are discovering it for the first time. Or maybe you were on Usenet ages ago and want to jump back into the game.

Whatever the case, these are the steps we recommend you take to get started with Usenet.

1. Do Some Quick Research about Usenet

Before signing up for even a free trial, first learn a little bit about Usenet.  

It’s tempting to jump right in and sign up for a free Usenet trial. But if you Google around and first read some good guides, your free trial will go a lot further.

By doing a little research, you won’t waste any of the precious, limited free trial period.

Good guides on Usenet are ours (of course!), How to Use Usenet and Is Usenet Safe? But there are others too, including wikiHow’s (although, they seem to have “borrowed” heavily from our guides).  

For example, one of the things you might want to know a little about before signing up for a free trial is the specific newsgroups that might interest you.  This way, you can choose a free trial with a Usenet provider that carries the newsgroups you want to download from.

See Uncensored Usenet Newsgroup List & Search and Best Usenet Newsgroups.


2. Sign-up for a Free Usenet Trial

Once you are a little up to speed on Usenet in general and the newsgroups you may like, go ahead and take the plunge, and sign up for a free trial.

There are plenty of excellent free trials to choose from. See Best Free Usenet Trials for a complete and up-to-date list by amount of time (for example, 14 days) and the amount of free data (for example, 30 GB).

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a Usenet trial:

  • Some Usenet trials come with a free newsreader. A newsreader is the software you need to download files from Usenet. Think of a newsreader like you would µTorrent or qBittorrent for torrents. If a newsreader is included with the free Usenet trial, this makes things a lot easier as these newsreaders are pre-configured to work with the Usenet provider and often have the right settings baked in to the newsreader for flawless performance.
     
  • Choose a Usenet provider with news servers located close to you. If you live in the US, pick a free trial from a Usenet provider that has news servers in the US. If you live in Europe, choose one with news servers in Europe. Many Usenet providers have servers in both the US and Europe, but not all do so pay a little attention to this. 
     
  • Some free Usenet trials will require your payment details up-front (usually a credit card or PayPal account), while others may need nothing more than an email address. If you choose a free trial that needs payment info, just make sure you end your free trial before it expires. Otherwise, you will be automatically subscribed and monthly charges will start to apply.

Nothing prevents you from taking more than one free trial, whether at the same time or one after another, but you’ll probably find out pretty quickly whether Usenet is for you or not.


3. Decide on and Subscribe to a Usenet Plan

If you want to join the small elite group that can call themselves Usenetters, subscribe to a plan. Good deals on even the best Usenet provider can be had for annual plans.

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Even if you are happy with your free trial, it can often be a good idea to cancel before the free trial expires and then sign up fresh for an annual plan. In other words, you may get a better deal subscribing as a “brand new” customer than transitioning from a free trial into a follow-on subscription.


Check Best Usenet Deals for some of the best current offers on annual plans.


4. Upgrade your Newsreader Software

If you like the newsreader that comes with your Usenet plan and/or was offered with your free Usenet trial, great! Just carry on using it.

But chances are you will eventually outgrow it. And this will probably happen sooner rather than later.

Try one (or more) of these best newsreader software apps. They are still free, but more powerful.

For one thing, switching to a more powerful newsreader will open up the world of NZB files and automated Usenet downloads (both discussed further below) which really ups your Usenet game to the next level.


5. Learn How to Search Usenet

Just as you will soon outgrow any newsreader that comes with your Usenet plan or helped you learn the Usenet ropes during a free trial period, the same will probably happen with how you search and find files on Usenet to download.

The built-in search features of bundled newsreaders are OK, but not great. You’ll want to check other ways to search for files to download from newsgroups.

Best Usenet Search explains the 3 different ways you can search for content to download from Usenet.


6. NZB is a Better Way to Download from Usenet

If you read the Usenet search post recommended above, you'll have noticed something called NZB. What’s NZB all about?

Well, with traditional Usenet, you browse newsgroups to look for content you may like, usually based on nothing more than the posts' subject lines. Then, you download a bunch of posts that hopefully contain all the pieces of that content. If any pieces are missing, the download will be incomplete and the movie, TV show, video clip or whatever content you downloaded won't play.

However, the trouble is that with large content files, like movies & TV shows, those files may be contained in dozens or hundreds of posts. That makes them hard to all track down manually.

With NZB, you find and download a single NZB file for the content you want. The NZB file itself is tiny, but it points to everywhere the content can be found in Usenet posts. This helps your newsreader track down all the necessary pieces of the content, no matter how many posts they comprise or in how many different newsgroups they were posted to.

Once you start finding and downloading files using NZB, you’ll realize how much better it is than the old school method of browsing newsgroups, downloading posts and hoping you get all the pieces of a file you wanted.

Searching and downloading using NZBs make your downloads faster and more complete.


7. Use a Usenet Indexer

Usenet indexers are websites that maintain a Usenet index. A Usenet index is to newsgroups what Pirate Bay and KickAss Torrents are to torrents. And a Usenet indexer is a kind of “super NZB Usenet search”. Usenet indexers use NZB files the same way those torrent sites use torrent files.

In other words, getting files on Usenet can be as easy as: search, select and download.

The very best Usenet indexers will cost you a bit, but some remain free and are an easy way to dip your toe into the world of Usenet indexers.

To learn more, see NZB Search.


8. Fully Automate your Usenet Downloading

How would you like your newsreader to “know” when a TV show or movie you want becomes available and download it right away?

That may sound like fantasy but is possible. Apps like Radarr (for movies) and Sonarr (for TV shows) can help you do exactly this.

These apps run in your web browser, communicate with your favorite Usenet indexer(s) and send NZB files to your newsreader the moment any content on your “watch lists” are posted to Usenet newsgroups.

It all happens so fast that you are usually able to download the content before any take-down notices can take effect and the content is removed.

We won’t lie and say “Usenet automation is easy” but once you get a few moving parts in place, it can work like a dream.


9. Get a Usenet Block Account for Better Completions

To make sure nothing slips through the cracks when downloading from Usenet, you can get something called a Usenet block account.

Two heads are better than one and it’s the same with Usenet: looking for files on two news servers is better than trying to get files from only one.

But who wants to pay for two Usenet subscriptions?! Don't worry. You don't have to.

Instead, you can buy a Usenet block account; this is a type of backup Usenet access. It works like a “pay-as-you-go” plan which only kicks in if and when you need it.

It works like this: when your main Usenet account can't find all the pieces of a file, the back-up plan kicks in and fills in the missing pieces. You only pay for what you use for the block account. 

Plus, the best Usenet block accounts never expire so any data you don't use carries over month after month until you use it all up. 


Conclusion

We’ve just covered everything you need to get started with Usenet and then some.

Follow the steps above and you’ll be a Usenet boss in no time.

Happy downloading!

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