How to Get Started with Usenet Search

You just learned about Usenet. You’re intrigued and you want to search content in the Internet’s secret backroom. Now what? Why isn’t it easy and intuitive to search and find stuff on Usenet? You want Usenet search to be just like searching for content on Youtube or the Web, but it’s not. 

Searching Usenet Can be Confusing for Beginners

Usenet search is like an Internet puzzle. For Usenet lovers, putting the pieces together is part of the fun. It’s like a secret society. And we’re here to let you in on the fun.   

The great thing about Usenet is that it isn’t part of the Web where all your activity is tracked, sliced, diced, and sold to advertisers who pump ads back at you. Usenet is outside the World Wide Web ecosystem. It has its own ecosystem where there are millions of gigabytes of user-generated content to be consumed if you can just figure out how to find it.

Usenet has no ads, but that’s because you have to subscribe to it through a Usenet provider. There is no “free” version of Usenet like with Youtube. 

There Are 3 Parts to the Usenet Search Puzzle

First pick a Usenet service. We recommend Newshosting, hands down the gold standard Usenet provider. Newshosting carries the largest archive of Usenet content and can deliver what you’re searching for with lightning speed.

Second, install a newsreader. This is an app that sits on your Windows, Mac, or Linux desktop and is the gateway to Usenet in the same way that a web browser is the gateway to the Web.  There are many Usenet clients to choose from and they all have different capabilities.

Third, you need access to a Usenet indexer.  An indexer crawls all the Usenet posts the way Google search crawls all websites and creates a listing of currently available content. It is then made searchable using an algorithm.  

The indexer, client, and provider all work together so you can search Usenet for the data you’re looking for.

The main reason we recommend Newshosting is because it includes all three of these elements in a seamless package.  

  1. Subscribe to Newshosting
  2. Download the Newshosting Usenet newsreader
  3. Start searching and downloading

Newshosting simplified Usenet search for you. 

You can also see our list of best Usenet providers to find the right provider for you.

What is a Usenet Indexer?

As we mentioned above, an Indexer is basically a search engine for Usenet. It can help you find articles on specific topics or binaries to download. There are countless different Indexers available to choose from.

The simplest and most popular ones are also free. Binsearch and NZBIndex are great free indexers that you can start your Usenet journey with, just to get the hang of how this search function works and what you can do. Of course, being free they have several potential drawbacks that we go into more deeply in the reviews linked above. That being said, it’s a no-risk place to start learning.

There are also plenty of paid indexers available online. Some are specifically geared toward finding binaries that have been posted on various newsgroups. Some are aimed at text posts. Your best bet is to start with the free options to get a better idea of how you specifically use Usenet, then invest in a paid subscription that meets your particular needs. 

What is an NZB File?

Now let’s talk about NZBs. Because of the way the Usenet protocol works, content uploaded to Usenet is broken up into small file parts called “articles” and metadata called “headers” is created for each article as it is posted to Usenet.  Headers contain the data that allows the user to collect all parts of the Usenet content and reassemble the articles with their client.  Some Usenet clients require access to all the headers to be able to search and download content.

NZBs were created as a shortcut so the user would not have to search through Usenet headers. An NZB is a single Usenet file which contains all the metadata information to point at all the articles that make up the content being searched. The Usenet client can then retrieve all those parts and put them back together. 

The Usenet client that is included with our recommended Usenet service provider, Newshosting, is a traditional newsreader with a indexer built in, and is also NZB compatible, so if you are used to using NZBs as a Usenet search tool, you can enter the NZB into the Newshosting client, search, and download.  

Other Usenet Search Options

While the most common way to search Usenet is directly on an indexer’s website, there are plenty of other ways to find the data you’re looking for.

First, several newsreaders, like the one from Newshosting, have an indexer built right into their system. When you download and log into the client, you’re immediately brought to a Usenet search tab where you can simply type in what you want and choose the results. There are even advanced search and filtering options so you can pinpoint the precise article you’re looking for.

It’s also possible to use third-party applications to search for binaries. Each one has unique benefits and can not only help you organize the files currently on your computer, but also connect to your indexer and Usenet browser through an API to help automate your searches and downloads.

Bottom Line

While it may seem impenetrable at first, Usenet search is a lot simpler than it initially looks and certainly much easier than it used to be. Clients like the Newshosting newsreader integrate search into the product, there are lots of indexers to choose from, and API integrations can streamline the whole process.

Don’t feel like you’re left out of the Usenet club. With a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to search Usenet like a pro in no time.

How to Get Started with Usenet Search

The easiest way to begin a Usenet search is to sign up with Newshosting using our special discount, download their newsreader, and type your query into one of the two search bars that pop up (they both do the same thing, but the top one is if you close the one in the tab).

Otherwise, start searching on sites like Binsearch or NZBIndex and get a feel for how the process works of finding, downloading, and interacting with Usenet articles.