In 1979, two Duke University students began development on Usenet. Usenet was successfully launched in 1980 and has established itself as one of the most popular Internet discussion outlets in the world. Subscribers are allowed to post as well as read messages on newsgroups. Usenet can be thought of as an amalgamation of email and web forums. Over the years, Usenet has continued to develop and mature.

Users access Usenet with a newsreader. A newsreader is software that runs on a user’s computer. It allows users to browse Usenet like a web browser allows users to access the World Wide Web. There are a number of service providers on the Internet who offer such services. Since a newsreader or browser is vital towards a subscribers overall experience, the best Usenet service providers strive towards providing a fully featured and user friendly newsreader.

When searching for Usenet services, the first thing a user should do is take a look at the features of the newsreader application being provided.

Basic Newsreader Functionality

  1. Simultaneous Connections
  2. Unlimited Download Speeds
  3. SSL Security

Look out for these specific features:

  1. Tab-based viewing within a newsreader application allows users to open a number of different news feed simultaneously. This is similar to tabbed viewing while browsing the World Wide Web.
  2. Another helpful feature is a grouping option. This allows users to place a variety of different newsfeeds together according to categories such as a specific author, date and topic.
  3. A two pane interface allows users to scroll through an entire article as well as headlines.
  4. Searching functions allow users to create their own search filters. Such features enable users to access information that interests them.

There are several factors to consider when selecting a Usenet provider. Look for a provider who offers unlimited access. This mean there are no bandwidth caps. Look for a provider offering high retention and completion rates. This means the desired discussions are always available. A free trial allows users to try a service before paying anything. Global servers allow Usenet providers to offer great speeds no matter where users live in the world. Look for a Usenet provider who offers their own bundled newsreader. These newsreaders are optimized for specific services. They are able to deliver the best performance.

Usenet has become immensely popular. It is not only employed by the general public but also by many companies and governmental agencies.