What is Usenet?

Depending on when you first found the wonderland that is the Internet, you may or may not have heard of Usenet before. Most people are surprised to learn that Usenet began in 1979 as a computer network system where you could post messages, sort of a virtual bulletin board. The Facebook of its day, Usenet was the online place to network before social networks were cool.

Usenet was once the undisputed King of the Net, but eventually the World Wide Web would steal the spotlight away from Usenet by the late 90s. Usenet was forced to evolve or die. No longer operated by ISPs and Universities, the modern Usenet is run by private firms with the means and incentive to continue growing and strengthening the Usenet infrastructure. With more than 9 Terabytes per day uploaded to Usenet, it is no surprise that it is drawing the attention of hardcore downloader’s.

Here are 3 reasons Usenet remains a popular download destination.

Why Download From Usenet?

1. Huge Selection

The huge increase in server capacity has allowed Usenet providers to increase “retention”. Retention is the amount of time that a post is stored on the server. As recently as 4 or 5 years ago, retention times of 100-200 days were common.  If you were looking for a post that was uploaded 300 days ago, you were out of luck. However, the privatization of the Usenet industry has led to a dramatic increase in retention times as companies compete for business. Today, all of the best providers are offering more than 1,000 days of binary (file) retention.  And this number continues to grow as they add server space rather than delete posts and files.

2. Super Fast Download Speeds

Unlike peer-to-peer technologies, Usenet access is done through a direct connection to a network of commercial servers. So instead of joining a group of others to download and upload at the same time, you are making a one-on-one connection to the server. And this connection is often uncapped.  Meaning that you can literally download at the maximum speed you internet connection will allow you to. For most, this is the one key feature of Usenet that makes it superior to any other download technology.

3. Secure Downloads

Security online is necessary. Risks are at an all time high. You need to use every precaution you can especially when downloading. Many Usenet providers encrypt your connection to the servers with a 256 bit SSL rate. This is the same encryption offered by your financial institution online. This type of encryption creates a secure tunnel between your computer and the Usenet server.  This tunnel acts as a barrier keeping prying eyes out. For those that value their privacy online, this is a major reason to use Usenet for downloading.

Then and Now

The foundation for Usenet was laid more than three decades ago.  And while the world has continued to grow and evolve, Usenet has been forced to do the same. The Usenet of today is technically very similar to the Usenet of 30 years ago.  However, it is much stronger and much more powerful. The privatization of the industry has brought increased competition which has led to increased value for users.  Increasing levels of speed, selection and security are 3 of the main reasons users choose to download with Usenet.

This post is contributed by Jared Scott.  Jared Scott is the Manager of Public Outreach for Binverse. He is a Usenet fanatic and you can follow his updates on Facebook and @Binverse.