One of the big draws of BitTorrent is that there are few barriers to entry, not least because it’s free to use. There are other downloading options of course, Usenet being one, but it can be a complex and relatively expensive option. However, thanks to a new service, anyone can enjoy simplified newsgroup downloading using just a web browser. Best of all, it’s completely free of charge.
It’s a battle that’s been running in some people’s minds for the last decade. What’s better for downloading – BitTorrent or Usenet?
Chances are, most people reading this post will have used BitTorrent and will have a good idea how it works and what its benefits are. Top of the list for many will be the fact that it’s completely free to use. Others will point to the huge libraries of content and the not-too-punishing learning curve to get started.
Usenet users, on the other hand, will enthuse about the speeds of the newsgroups. They will boast how content stays live for years and how their chosen download method has superior privacy and security when compared to P2P.
In reality, most people won’t have any experience with Usenet and as a result won’t have struggled with the steep learning curve and probably never will. Because unlike BitTorrent, Usenet is not free, so this obstacle is a deal-breaker for the credit card-less. That said, if you’ve never tested Usenet because the cost and learning curve has put you off, today’s your lucky day.
A new service from UsenetStorm reduces the complexity of Usenet downloading by providing access to binary content through a standard web-browser. Best of all, the entry-level service is completely free of charge.
“The main reason for creating UsenetStorm was to offer Usenet binary downloads through HTTP, since file lockers are getting more restrictive and torrent users are being targeted by weak Government puppets,” UsenetStorm owner William Thomas told TorrentFreak.
“Even though UsenetStorm launched its first beta 3 years ago, it’s taken a lot of time and investment to be able to offer the service we do today. Usenet has a lot of content to offer but its gone largely unnoticed over the years. By offering Usenet as SaaS (Software as a Service) we’re trying to bring Usenet in to the modern ‘web 2.0′ world.”
Regular Usenet providers require a user to run a software client in order to grab content via NZB files (think .torrent files for Usenet), but with UsenetStorm the whole thing is done through a simple web interface.
Additionally, even when traditional companies offer a free Usenet trial they still require users to register their credit cards, a huge problem for those who don’t have one. UsenetStorm’s basic service is completely free, no strings.
“The only restriction for free users is 500mb per NZB file and download speeds are capped at 5mbit. Usage is unlimited to everyone without registration,” William adds.
What this means is if you want to download a release from Usenet that’s bigger than 500mb, each NZB file you create will need to link to a maximum of 500mb of files. You can, however, make as many as you like.
Basic Tutorial – Making an NZB file and downloading content.
For this you’ll need a suitable Usenet search engine – NZBIndex.nl or Binsearch.info will do just fine. The latter is less cluttered but the former shows the size of each file to download, useful when keeping within the 500mb limit of UsenetStorm.
So, we searched Binsearch for ‘Dan Bull’ and came across his Mass Effect release, shown below.
As you can see, we’ve ticked the box to say that’s the collection of files we want to download. Next, simply click the ‘Create NZB’ button on the site and Binsearch will send you an .NZB file which, like a .torrent file, ‘points’ to the data we want to download, in this case Dan’s music.
Now, we head back to UsenetStorm. Click ‘Choose File’ and browse to the hard drive location containing the .NZB file sent to us by Binsearch.
Then, simply click ‘Download’ and UsenetStorm will grab the files you want from Usenet and store them on its own servers.
When the big button appears saying “Go To Download” – click it – and then click the final ‘Download’ button.
UsenetStorm will then send you the files you asked for, all wrapped up in a single ZIP file which you’ll need to unpack. And that’s it. If you want any more files, simply head back to the first step and repeat.
While the technicalities of PAR files are outside the scope of this article, advanced Usenet users might be interested to know that they are all handled on the UsenetStorm servers. On the other hand, those new to Usenet can be relieved that with UsenetStorm PAR files aren’t needed.
On the privacy front and in addition to all the usual newsgroup security, the only information gathered for unrestricted UsenetStorm premium accounts is an email address and heavily encrypted password. IP addresses are not stored and SSL downloads will come along in the near future.
Overall, UsenetStorm offers a very nice service for people to test out Usenet for free to see if it’s for them. More experienced users might feel more at home getting their hands dirty with a standard Usenet provider and tools like SABnzbd, but for ease of use this is difficult to beat.
We forgot the first rule of Usenet again – sorry