Types of Usenet accounts (This is really the most important one!)
What you need to know:
Web-Interface / Thumbnail preview services
Some users just don’t want to be bothered with setting up newsreader software, or downloading headers to pick from. Usenet services are now available with web interfaces that let you previews of files so you can easily pick and choose the specific ones you want.
Often times a newsgroup may see a flood of 1000 attached pictures or videos. While only 20% may be of interest to you, with a traditional newsgroup program you must download them all, or at least an index picture (if the poster uploaded one) to select which messages to download. That’s a lot of wasted bandwidth. Thumbnail previews let you use your time and bandwidth wisely.
Multi-part messages are pre-joined to create complete files on the server. No need to learn how to RAR, PAR, HJSplit, etc.
If you’ve got the whole Usenet thing figured out, you’ve installed a newsreader program on your PC, Mac or smart phone, and you just want to read unlimited messages and download binary attachments all day long, an unlimited newsgroup account is a no-brainer. The standard for a bare-bones unlimited account is now about $11 a month, less if you pay for it quarterly or yearly.
Watch out for how some companies, especially those outside the US have speed caps on their Unlimited accounts. So they may offer a super-low rate, but cap it at 5 Mbits per second. Only when you upgrade to their top-shelf service do you get true unlimited downloads AND unlimited speed.
Some of the resellers may throttle or even cut off your usenet access, even on an unlimited account, if you draw too much. Since some of them have to pay their provider (see the Mega Server under Usenet Providers) by the byte, they need to cut off heavy users, especially toward month-end. Sort of like the wireless cellphone carriers have started doing in the US.
Metered usenewsgroup providers: .
Metered use accounts are generally considered accounts that allow a set amount of downloading monthly. Accounts spanning more than a month are typically considered Block accounts.
The most common type of metered account allows a user to download up to a specific amount (pricing depends on the limit selected) per month. When that limit is reached, you cannot download any more until you pay again (either automatically with an “auto-refill” option, or wait until the next monthly billing cycle.
Most metered accounts are “use it or lose it“, but some do roll your unused GB into the next month. This is a particularly valuable feature – although keep in mind that most companies only let you keep the extra as long as you are a paying customer. If you cancel your account, you usually can’t live off your excess into the next few months.
In general, we don’t recommend metered plans because the price difference between metered and unlimited plans is so small.
Block plans let you buy a specific number of GB with no time limit, or a time limit of more than a month (3, 6 or 12 months) on when you must use them.
These plans are really nice as a backup to another monthly plan, in case the other plan has a hardware failure, you always have something to fall back on.
Right now we are not recommending an specific block plans because we haven’t found any providers we trust who are offering decent programs. That may change (we hope!)
As quality usenet plans become a commodity, more companies are starting to bundle related services in their plans to sweeten the deal.
VPN seems to be the next big thing to bundle, and in many ways it is a very logical complement to Usenet access. With VPN services running about $10 a month, any price difference of $10 or less over standard unlimited usenet is a bargain
Online Storage is another service that a number of usenet providers are starting to bundle. Unfortunately, in our view, free services like DropBox and Gooogle Drive make this add-on of minimal value.
A few words about the number of connections:
Most premium Usenet providers allow you to use somewhere between 20 and 50 connections at one time.
These connections are not to be shared with other users – most providers require (and technologically control) that all connections be from the same IP address at any given time. Connection attempts from more than one IP addresses are usually blocked.
Having multiple connections allows your newsreader program to do multiple access at once. For example, you may be reading a large number of attachment messages in a video group, when you decide you want to also download headers from a music discussion group. While the headers download, you may also decide to check out the cover art for an Indie band that has agreed to put its stuff in a usenet group using an “over-ride” download. If you were limited to only one connection, the video group messages would have to stop downloading to allow the headers to be retrieved, and that too would have to stop when you requested an over-ride download of the album art file. But if the usenet provider allows multiple connections, you can do all these things at once.
Multiple connections may also speed up the download of large message queues. By opening 3 or 4 connections between your newsreader and the newsgroup provider, different message parts may travel different paths to your PC, avoiding some bottlenecks and creating a faster overall speed than downloading each message part sequentially.
But the value of extra connections falls off pretty quickly. Our experience is that the impact falls off sharply after about 4 connections though – in fact Giganews can fully fill our 12 Mps cable connection with a single connection most days.