Usenet Block Accounts: Astraweb, Tweaknews, Blocknews vs XSNews
Get pay-per-download newsgroup access with Usenet block accounts: everything you need to know.
What is a Usenet Block Account?
A Usenet block account is basically a pay-per-download Usenet account that doesn't expire until you've used up all the data download limit you bought with the plan. And even when you've used it up you can recharge or replenish it, just like a top-up type account for a mobile phone.
Our ever popular post Best Usenet Provider focuses only on monthly subscription type accounts. In this post, we focus solely on Usenet block accounts.
Astraweb is the most well-known but not the only provider of Usenet block accounts. There are more than a dozen Usenet block account providers on the market today.
Block accounts are great for 2 things:
1. If you are NOT a regular user of Usenet
2. If you are a HEAVY Usenet user
These may seem a contradiction, so let us explain a little further.
Block Accounts are Good for Infrequent Usenet Users
A block account is great if you enjoy the benefits of Usenet from time-to-time, but not enough to commit yourself to a recurring monthly membership.
For example, block accounts are great for supplementing torrents. Perhaps you rely primarily on torrent file-sharing but occasionally lie to use Usenet for those hard to find new releases or rare, older files.
Another good practical example for using block accounts is for, ahem, adult erotica on Usenet. A block account is a great way to occasionally binge on Usenet adult erotica materials. There is a much better selection of adult images and short adult video clips on Usenet than with torrents. Though torrents still win out for full-length adult videos.
However, if you ultimately find the great selection of materials on Usenet to your liking AND you decide to partake regularly, you should consider a recurring monthly account with a good Usenet provider such as Newshosting as this represents better value for money per GB downloaded for a regular user.
Usenet Block Account versus Monthly Plan
The break even point for when it makes sense to switch from relying on a block account to a traditional monthly plan depends on the prices of the various plans (block accounts are cheaper the more GBs you buy – see the heading below ‘How Much do Block Accounts Cost’).
But the break-even point for when it makes sense to switch from a block account to a standing monthly account is typically when you start regularly downloading 20 to 100 GB per month, month-in and month-out.
Block Accounts are Essential for Heavy Usenet Users
Heavy Usenet users can also benefit from a block account. Hardcore Usenettters often have a regular monthly subscription with one main provider but also have a block account with a second provider.
This way, if a particular Usenet download or any pieces of it are not available from your main Usenet provider (sometimes these downloads are called incomplete items), your newsreader software can be set up so that it activates your block account only if and when needed to download these missing pieces. This all happens seamlessly in the background; all you know and experience is that your downloads are complete. 🙂
How Much do Usenet Block Accounts Cost?
It will be no surprise that the larger the download data quota (or “block”) you buy in GBs, the cheaper the cost per GB.
Perhaps surprisingly, prices per GB vary widely for download-as-you-go Usenet block accounts. To help you compare block account prices, we have prepared the table below (cheapest rate per GB amount is bolded).
However, note that price alone is not the only factor. Block accounts also often apply a different number of connections than standard monthly plans and even sometimes impose speed limits. So keep an eye on those factors too when choosing a block account.
Lastly, it’s also important to know about backbone providers when choosing which block account provider to use in combination with your main Usenet provider account. This is discussed under the next heading after the table.
Choose a Block Account with a Different Backbone than your Main Usenet Account
Keep in mind that there are essentially only a handful of Usenet provider “backbones“, meaning providers of the actual primary access to Usenet newsgroup server farms. But some of these backbones are marketed under many, sometimes dozens, of different names. For more information, see https://www.reddit.com/r/usenet/wiki/providers
But in a nutshell:
- US-based Usenet backbones are: Altopia, Giganews, Omicron (formerly Highwinds) and Searchtech (US)
- European-based Usenet backbones are: XSNews, CheapNews and Searchtech (NL)
If you want a block account to help fill in incomplete items when downloading from Usenet, make sure to choose a block account from a different backbone provider. You may even want to choose one from a different continent. Sure that may mean somewhat slower speeds, but that's more than made up for by it filling in any missing pieces, especially for those hot new releases. Plus you only fall back on the block account when your main day-to-day account encounters any incomplete items.
In the table below, we outline some ideal pairings for main and matching block account Usenet providers.
MAIN USENET ACCOUNT
Newshosting (Omicron) BEST
(Europe focus) Eweka (Omicron)
any Usenet provider
Share Your Usenet Block Account Techniques
If you use a different combination for a main Usenet provider plus block account with good success, please let the community know in the comments below. Thanks!