|News Server FAQ for Newsreaders
Learn how to configure your newsgroup downloader to work with a news server
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If you're looking for a newsgroup provider, then I recommend Giganews Usenet, one of the most popular newsgroup services. I've heard many endorsements from users of my products who also use them in conjunction with Giganews, and have heard nothing but positive feedback.
Okay, so let's start off with a discussion of what is a news server and why do you need one... A news server is the computer that your computer connects to in order to retrieve news articles. Many people mistakingly think that usenet news works just like websites -- well, it doesn't! :) With the web, each website is generally hosted by a different computer attached to the Internet. To view a web page, a connection is made between your computer and the web server, and the web page is retrieved and displayed.
However, the usenet news system works differently. Generally, you connect to a single computer, called a news server, that contains the contents of all of the newsgroups that you are reading. It doesn't matter what newsgroup you're downloading from -- whether you're downloading a picture from alt.binaries.pictures.aviation or a song from alt.binaries.sounds.mp3, your computer always connects to the same news server.
So where is this mysterious news server located? For many people, they simply use the news server that their Internet Service Provider (ISP) supplies. For example, if you have Earthlink, then you probably use a news server provided by Earthlink. If you have comcast or qwest, then you use a comcast or qwest news server, etc. Let's call this news server that you get for free from your ISP the "default news server".
The default news server is generally sufficient for doing a little bit of downloading each month. Generally, the ISPs like to place limits on the news server to control how much you can download. Newsgroups aren't a big business for the ISPs, and it's much cheaper for them to place limits on the bandwidth because it means less hardware and bandwidth that the ISP has to provide. If you're happy with your default news server, then just stick with it -- there's no reason to mess with something that works for you.
However, if you want better service than your default news server provides, then you'll want to go with a paid news service. Paid news services are available on a subscription basis, usually with a monthly fee. Generally, you receive a higher performance connection that you would with you ISP's default news server, and the bandwidth limits are more relaxed. While your default news service might limit you to a gigabyte or less per month, many paid providers give you limits of 25 GB per month.
For example, here's a quick rundown of the programs at Giganews Usenet, one of the premier providers:
In addition to performance and bandwidth limitations, there are also other advantages to using a paid provider. The paid providers generally offer better reliability (uptime), better newsgroup retention (they keep articles longer), and better completeness (less missing parts to multi-part files).
How does a paid provider relate to your newsreader software ?