Paid vs Free Usenet Indexers: Are Paid NZB Indexers Worth It?

Indexers will take your Usenet downloading to the next level. But is it really necessary to use paid indexers or should you stick with free Usenet indexers? 

Photo of women looking at piggy bank

Guide to free Usenet indexers vs paid indexers. 

A few of the first questions people ask when beginning to use Usenet, especially if they're coming from torrents, include:

  • “Is Usenet free?”
  • “What are NZB indexers?”
  • “What's the difference between free vs. paid indexers?”
  • And, most importantly, “Are paid indexers worth it?”

And if you've got questions, we've got answers. 

Let's take a look at whether paid indexers are really better, the differences between the two, and the top free Usenet indexers to try.

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Refresher: About Usenet Indexers

Just so everyone's on the same page, here's a quick summary of what are Usenet indexers and how they work
 

  • Usenet indexers are also sometimes called NZB sites, NZB indexers and NZB search sites 
     
  • Indexers are the Usenet equivalent of the much more familiar torrent indexers or torrent search sites like The Pirate Bay, YTS, 1337x, RARBG, KickAssTorrents, etc 
     
  • Usenet indexers do not actually host any content files. They only maintain a catalog of Usenet content that can be found among Usenet’s 120,000+ newsgroups at any given time 
     
  • What you can download from a Usenet indexer are tiny .nzb files for the content you want, just like with .torrent files 
     
  • To download the actual content, you open these .nzb files in a free Usenet downloader client (aka NZB downloader software) like NZBGet– the torrent analogy applies again: this is just like downloading and opening .torrent files in a torrent client like qBitTorrent 
     
  • However, unlike torrenting, you will need a Usenet provider to actually download the content files associated with the ,nzb files you obtained from the indexer. In further contrast to torrenting, the content is downloaded privately and safely from the Usenet provider’s server, rather than public torrent peers that can see your IP address. 
     
  • You can search for .nzb files manually on the Usenet indexer or use advanced tools like Radarr/Sonarr that link your NZB downloader client with the indexer for automated searching and downloading just like a torrent RSS feed. Each back and forth automated communication like this with the Usenet indexer is known as an API call.

Why Do Some Usenet Indexers Cost Money?

Many free indexers are merely "scraping" the header information of all the posts available in Usenet’s most popular newsgroups.

The result? A lot of garbage in their indexes.

Such indiscriminate scraping means the index is full of failed posts, obfuscated (scrambled) posts, spammy posts, and other nonsense that just makes your search results less relevant.

Take a few seconds to search a 100% free indexer like BinSearch.info and you'll see what we mean.

screenshot of binsearch.info search results

Free Usenet indexer sample search results.

There are several good reasons why indexers charge fees for access to their NZB catalogs. Among them:

  • Better quality control of the indexed content 
     
  • Faster searching and downloading of NZB files, whether manually or by your NZB downloader software
screencapture of NZBGet icon
  • Preventing abuse by would-be scrapers or other troublemakers 
     
  • Better UI, interface and overall features for members 
     
  • Fewer technical difficulties and more uptime 
     

These all boil down to one common theme: more resources for the indexer.

Charging fees means the indexer can benefit from faster severs and more powerful processing that is needed to crunch the huge number of Usenet posts, sift through them and filter them to create a crisp, useful index of the quality content available in Usenet newsgroups.

Instead, if registration was a free-for-all, the indexer cannot invest in the necessary infrastructure needed to run and maintain a quality indexer, day in and day out.

Maintaining servers and keeping software humming isn't cheap, especially when you're dealing with massive amounts of data.


What's the Deal with Paid Indexers that are Invite-Only?

There are some indexers that, even though they charge a fee, you can only join them if you receive an invitation!

This is also done as way to optimize resources, quality control and uptime.

Being invite-only allows the indexer to maintain control and ensure their bandwidth is not overwhelmed.  This helps ensure that the indexer stays up and running.

The indexer can then invite new members (or open itself up to new members) when its infrastructure can handle the increased demand and lad on its servers and other resources.


Free vs. Paid NZB Indexers: What's the Difference?

Okay, so now we know why many indexers charge for membership.

But the question remains, “are paid indexers WORTH it?” Do they provide advantages over free membership for the average user?

The answer is a resounding “yes”!

Here are a few things that paid indexers offer you that usually free indexers don't:
 

Better Selection of Content

While indexed content varies slightly from indexer to indexer (and many Usenet veterans maintain more than one membership for this reason), the premium, paid indexers tend to have the largest selection – and they get the newest content more quickly. 
 

Better Quality Content

Paid indexers are more diligent about weeding out low-quality files or those containing spam, viruses, and the like, from their index, so you can download with more confidence. 
 

Unlimited Downloads / No API Limits

Most free indexers (or free tiers of paid indexers) place a strict limit on the number of NZBs you can download from the indexer, whether manually or automatically through your NZB downloader software.

Once you reach your limit, that's it until tomorrow.

If you're only grabbing a few NZBs per week, this may not be a problem, but heavy downloaders and especially automated Usenet downloaders will definitely need a paid indexer. 
 

Better Obfuscation Support

To make a long story short, Usenet “obfuscation” helps files stay under the radar of parties that are trying to remove them, meaning the associated content stays available longer.

Paid indexers stay more up to date with the latest obfuscation methods, which is another reason they have a better selection of the newest content and releases. 
 

XXX Content (or More of It)

Many indexers, even if they have a free tier, require members to pay if they want to download adult content. They do this to prevent abuse as adult content tends to be among the most popular content.

So, if that's what you're after, you'll probably need to pay.


Best Paid Usenet Indexers

There are dozens of paid indexers for you to choose from. Picking which ones are “best” is an artificial exercise because the answer depends on what you are looking for, what your budget is and your level of experience with Usenet.

We encourage you to use our Compare Indexers Table to choose the right paid indexer for you.

If you don't want to do the research and want a couple of recommendations, it's hard to go wrong with the following paid indexers:


Best Free Usenet Indexers

If you just can't bring yourself to pay for an indexer or you’re looking for a backup to your paid indexer, there are a few free options that aren't so bad.

These won't give you the same selection of files or number of downloads (or API calls) that a paid indexer will, but they're still manageable if you're a light Usenet user – or just plain broke.

  • NZBFinder - NZBFinder.ws is a paid indexer that also offers a free tier. However, it's restricted to a very limited 25 API hits and 5 downloads. No XXX either. 
Screenshot of ’nzbfinder
Screenshot from 6box.me
  • 6box.me – 6box is (was?) the best completely free indexer in the game. Unfortunately, they've been down for months, and it's uncertain whether they'll be able to return.
  • NZB.su – NZB.su previously offered a free tier, but they've stopped doing so because of abuse. It remains to be seen whether it'll be re-introduced in the future. 
Screenshot from Nzbsu

Nzbsu's free access is disabled for now.

  • DrunkenSlug – Though DrunkenSlug is a top-rated indexer that also offers a free tier, it's notoriously difficult to get a membership as it's invite-only.  🙁 
     
  • SpotNZB – A free NZB site geared primarily to Dutch speakers, but there's some English-language content too.

Are Paid Indexers Worth it?

So, to sum it all up, yes, paid indexers are definitely worth it.

You’re getting better content, more of it, and can download as many NZB files or make as many API requests as you want.

If you're a serious Usenet user, paying for at least one premium or VIP membership to an indexer is a no-brainer.

Plus, it's so cheap! NZBGeek, for instance, is $1 or less per month.

Top Tip – No matter how good a Usenet indexer you use or even if you use multiple indexers, if your newsgroup provider is crap, you simply won't get the content you want. Get yourself one of the best unlimited Usenet accounts at a reasonable price.

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