Crunching the Numbers: Deciphering the Costs of Usenet

Part of what prevents many people from jumping into Usenet is the cost. Not necessarily the prices themselves, which can be relatively inexpensive, but rather that there is a cost at all. Having the World Wide Web appear “free” at the point of service has trained people to expect that having an Internet service provider is enough to access the whole online world.

Understanding the costs of Usenet will help you understand why it’s worth the money.

Why Does Usenet Require An Additional Subscription?

The Internet is big business, but like other industries, there are different approaches to doing business.

The World Wide Web, which constitutes the bulk of Internet traffic, runs primarily on an ad-based revenue model. You don’t pay directly for a Google search because you are the product. Your actions are tracked, analyzed, and sold so advertisers can try to get you to spend your money with them. It can be incredibly invasive and puts your personal information at risk.

Web services also are at the mercy of their advertisers. That’s why there is so much more censorship on social media platforms today than there used to be. Advertisers don’t want to be associated with some ideas, so discussion of those ideas has to be restricted.

Usenet, because it uses a subscription-based model, doesn’t suffer from these drawbacks. When you purchase a Usenet subscription, your privacy remains intact because most providers don’t keep logs of your activity, they don’t serve ads to you, and they don’t sell your personal information.

Moreover, newsgroups are not subject to moderation or censorship by Usenet providers. They have no advertisers to please, so they can allow the community to set the tone of discussions.

Usenet Prices

How much does Usenet cost? That is a very big question without a simple answer.

Usenet providers offer a wide range of features for prices as low as a few dollars a month to as high as thirty or forty. This usually reflects the quality of service, the number of features, any additional benefits, and how high retention rates are. It can also be reflective of where the service is based.

Unless your provider comes with a Usenet search feature, you might also need to subscribe to an Indexer in order to find articles as effectively as possible. Indexers are Usenet search engines and frequently require at least an extra few dollars to use, though several providers do include newsreaders with search as part of their service bundle.

What Should I Look For to Find Value?

The “value” of a Usenet provider, as we use the term here, is how many of your needs are met with how much you’re paying. Finding the right provider means finding the one that gives you what you want for a price you’re comfortable with.

We recommend taking a look at our cheapest Usenet deals page for some of the best value in providers.

Pay attention to the following factors as well.

Retention Rates

We have long held that retention is the most important factor in choosing a provider. While there is a certain correlation between retention and price, it’s not strictly one-to-one. High retention providers are generally more expensive than significantly lower retention providers, but there is a middle ground where a Usenet service might have lower retention rates, but still be more expensive than a high-rate competitor.


Most Usenet providers include SSL encryption on all of their connections, but some still don’t. We recommend avoiding any provider that doesn’t at least include SSL encryption.

SSL is just the beginning of strong security, however. Many Usenet providers now offer additional security solutions as part of their subscriptions, including VPNs, anti-virus, and ad blockers. This can increase prices, but also comes with the benefits of improved protection.

Fast Speeds

Another way that price can reflect features is in speeds. One way that Usenet providers, especially budget providers, keep costs down for subscribers is by offering tiered speed caps. If you don’t need particularly fast speeds, or live in an area where your Internet service won’t keep up with faster connections, you can often save money by signing up for a plan that includes a speed cap. Faster (or unlimited) speed plans are usually more expensive.

Download Caps

Speed is not the only thing that a Usenet provider might restrict to offer a lower price. Download caps are another way that you can keep your Usenet budget in check. Rather than reducing the speed of transfers, a provider might only allow you a certain amount of gigabytes of data transfer every month. This can work out well, especially if your Usenet activity is primarily in text newsgroups, but can be more expensive in the long run if you have to purchase additional data credits after running out. It’s usually a good idea, if you can, to sign up for a subscription that includes unlimited data, then evaluating your needs and making changes from there.

Plan Length

Another way that you can keep the cost of Usenet down is to sign up for longer plans. While not always the case, most providers will include per-month discounts if you sign up for an annual plan rather than paying month-to-month. Annual plans require you to pay the full price of the year up front, but can work out to costing up to 75% less than monthly payments.

Finding the Right Usenet Plan for You

Take the time to research plans and figure out what you need to best enjoy your time. It’s tempting to sign up for a subscription and then never think about it again, but that can waste money and won’t help you realize the full potential of Usenet. Learn what the protocol can do, find places where you fit, and figure out what you need.

Bottom Line

Usenet costs are highly variable, so you have plenty of options when it comes to getting a plan that works for you. If you take some time to really dig deep, see what the experts think, and grow your understanding of the protocol, you’ll have no problem finding the best service for the best price.