Optimizing Your Usenet Experience: Choosing the Right Newsreader Software

Most Internet users know that you can’t look at websites without using a web browser. Did you know that there are browsers designed specifically for Usenet? Usenet browsers are called “newsreaders” because they are meant to read “newsgroups.” They are the way that you can find, access, read, and respond to Usenet articles. The question becomes: how do you pick the best newsreader?

What Are Newsgroups?​

Newsgroups are where everything happens on Usenet. They are organized, at the highest level, into the Big 8 Hierarchies, which splits them up based on broad subject categories. From that point, topics become more and more refined until a person has found the newsgroup that best fits their particular interests. There are two types of newsgroup: text and binary. The first is meant for discussions between users while the second is for sharing large posts. A good newsreader can access both types of newsgroup with ease, though there are some that are specialized to a particular type.

What You Should Look For in a Newsreader​

There are a lot of newsreaders available, and it can be difficult to choose one that will meet your needs while also being easy to use. Fortunately, we’ve broken down what you should be looking for in a newsreader. If you want to skip the details, you can also look at our list of great newsreaders that include Usenet search.

1. Preconfiguration

Some of the best Usenet providers include preconfigured, free newsreaders with their service. That means that, rather than having to figure out how to set up your newsreader, you simply have to log in with a username and password. The rest will already be set up for you, including servers and connections. You’ll still have the option to tweak the settings, of course. For example, it might be a good idea to make sure that you’re using SSL connections rather than unencrypted ones. However, the bulk of the work has been done for you and you can jump right into enjoying Usenet.

2. Usenet Search

Usenet is separate from the World Wide Web, so you can’t use Google or Bing to search it. Instead, you have to use a separate search engine called an “Indexer” to search Usenet articles and find the posts you want. Fortunately, a lot of newsreaders have Usenet search built into them already. This not only saves you time and money, it also makes it easier to filter your search results, get article previews, and ensure you’re getting the most relevant articles.

3. Intuitive Interface​

If you’re going to be using a newsreader to browse Usenet, you want to make sure that you can use it without any issues. That’s why it’s so important that your newsreader has an interface that is simple to understand and will naturally lead you to effective use. If you can, try out several different newsreaders to see which ones make the most sense to you.

4. Automation​

The most efficient way to enjoy Usenet is to automate tasks whenever possible, and the right newsreader can help you with that. A good newsreader can let you schedule regular searches, automate downloads, and help with article organization. Try to use a newsreader that will take care of as many administrative tasks as possible so you can focus your attention on enjoying your Usenet experience.

5. Add-ons and Extensions​

While not strictly necessary, it’s nice to have access to add-ons that improve the quality of life of your newsreader. In many cases, like NZBGet or SABnzbd, there are extensive, community-made extensions that can help you more efficiently search, download, and interact with Usenet.

Free or Paid?​

There are a variety of newsreaders available. Some are entirely free, some require you to buy them outright, some require a monthly subscription, and some come for free with your Usenet subscription. There isn’t a difference in quality between paid and free newsreaders based on whether you have to pay for them. When it comes to newsreaders, you don’t necessarily “get what you pay for.” In fact, if you’re only interested in binary newsgroups, some of the best Usenet clients are entirely free. That being said, if you are not familiar with Usenet, we recommend using any free, preconfigured newsreaders that come with your Usenet subscription, seeing as those tend to be crafted to make browsing Usenet easier and rapidly onboard you to the protocol. If your subscription doesn’t come with a free newsreader, you can take a look at our list of newsreaders with Usenet search to get a good idea of the many excellent options available to you.

Bottom Line​

Just because they might be unfamiliar doesn’t mean that newsreaders have to be impenetrable or even difficult to use. In fact, most of them are highly intuitive and have had decades to streamline their design to make them easy. Figure out what you want to do on Usenet, then pick a newsreader that will give you the options to make that simple so you can just have fun.