UsenetExpress Launches New Tier-1 Usenet Service

A new Usenet provider by the name of UsenetExpress launched earlier today. It is the first tier-1 Usenet provider to jump into the industry in a very long time. The founder of UsenetExpress is no rookie to the Usenet biz. Earlier today he shared his past history on the site’s blog. He founded a Usenet company in the early 2000s that gained popularity before he sold it in 2006. It has continued to grow into one of the most popular Usenet providers in the world. Back to UsenetExpress, their team is launching the new service to compete with the small number of tier-1 Usenet providers on the market. Time will tell whether or not their strategy will be a success, but in the meantime they are looking for some Usenet enthusiasts to help test the new service. The UsenetExpress team is offering a free month of service to users who help them stress test the service.

UsenetExpress

If you would like to help test the new UseneExpress service, their team has kindly shared a coupon code with us that will give you a free month of Usenet access. We want to note that you will need to sign up for an account and provide payment information to receive the free month of access. If you do not cancel your account during the first 30 days it will bill at their normal rate of $10 a month. Even so, the promotion is a great chance to test out a new tier-1 Usenet network free of charge. To do so you will want to visit their site and click on the blue Signup Now button. On the pricing screen that follows you will want to select the $10 monthly plan. At this point you can enter the coupon code goldenticket to receive the first month free. As of the time of our post there is no field for the code. Instead you can simply type goldenticket without clicking on anything else. As soon as you hit the last letter the screen will present you with a message stating the code is confirmed as shown below.

UsenetExpress goldenticket

Now that the coupon code is active, you can simply scroll down and enter an email address. From there you will choose between a number of payment methods. Regardless of which one you select, a message stating that “your coupon will be applied on the payment page.” will be presented. Then the payment page will show a message that let’s you know the subscription terms which include free service for the first month, then $10 for each month. Give UsenetExpress a test drive and let their team know what you think. As always we’re also interested in your impressions. Hit us up on Twitter and share your thoughts on the new Usenet service.

Does Astraweb Store Passwords in Plain Text?

Earlier this week a concerned Astraweb member posted on Reddit to warn others that Astraweb is storing passwords in plain text. He included an email from Astraweb that included the username and password for all three accounts that were tied to his email address. What’s wrong with that? For starters no one should hold you’re password in plain text anymore. You may have noticed that when you forget your password and request help that most companies reply with a link to reset your password. Instead Astraweb replied with every username and password tied to the user’s email address. By storing passwords in plain text Astraweb is putting members at risk. This is especially true for those who reuse the same password on other websites.

Password

There are a number of steps you can take to help protect your online accounts. The first is to use a different password for each account. Long gone are the days of using a single password and keeping it on a post-it note under your keyboard. You would think that practice ended long ago but I recently visited a company that specializes in website development and watched the office manager refer to a post-it note to log into a customer’s project. They proceeded to refer to the same note to log into other customer’s projects. Needless to say that didn’t leave a good impression. Most of us do a better job now a days but there is still plenty of room for improvement. Make sure you use strong passwords and never reuse them. You can use a free password manager like KeePass to help keep track of all your passwords.

The next step is to use multi-factor authentication whenever possible. You may already use two factor authentication to log into work while traveling or for financial institutions. The use of two-factor authentication has grown to include a lot of popular mainstream websites including Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon and many more. Most of them use a software token like Google Authenticator. How does it work? You simply install the Google Authenticator app on your iOS or Android device and use it to log into your favorite sites. This keeps anyone from accessing your account. They would need both your password and the rotating code that is presented on your device at the time of login. This is far more secure than just using a password.

There are a number of other steps you can take to help protect your identity online. If you don’t already use a VPN service then we suggest researching them and adding one to help protect your privacy. This is especially true for those who use public wifi networks. Whether you enjoy grabbing a cup of coffee while browsing the Internet or traveling, a VPN is a must. It’s way too easy to log into wifi at a restaurant or hotel and not realize you’re communications aren’t protected. You can take of this by logging into a VPN before using public wifi. A good VPN will also help you avoid censorship and geo restrictions. It’s not necessary for downloading from Usenet. Most providers offer SSL encryption which we recommend enabling in your newsreader.

NewsgroupDirect 2 Terabyte Block Sale

NewsgroupDirect is currently celebrating a great start to the new year with a special on 2 terabyte blocks.  Their latest deal comes in the shape of a huge block account.  The largest we’ve seen offered in quite some time.  Through January 29th NewsgroupDirect is offering 2 TB of Usenet access for $70.  Since NGD blocks are non-expiring you can use the account until it is depleted.  Visit the NGD Deal of the Week page to sign up.

NGD block sale

I normally recommend block accounts for backup and fills.  To fill missing content I would suggest a European Usenet provider.  A 2 terabyte block is huge.  Most Usenet fans could use it as their primary account for months.  Remember that NGD blocks are non-expiring.  At less than 4 cents a gig the price is great.  NGD block users enjoy high retention along with 50 SSL connections.  Remember to sign up before January 29th to save.

The 2 terabyte promotion is also open to existing members.  If you already have a NewsgroupDirect account then you’ll want to log into their website and click on add block.  From there you can add a 2 TB block for the $70 discounted price instead of the $150 regular price.  We’d also like to mention that NGD block accounts are shareable.  Since you are buying a block of Usenet access they don’t mind you sharing the account.

Visit Newsgroup Reviews to learn more about Usenet.  Follow us @NewsgroupRevs for the latest specials.

Free Test Accounts from Xennanews

The team at Xennanews is giving away free test accounts for their Usenet service. You can connect to their test server in Germany and use the service for free. There are a few limitations. The first of which is speed. You can use up to 10 connections but the speed is limited to 10 Mbit. The test accounts forbid posting and account sharing. The final limitation is binary retention. While the account page doesn’t mention retention we’re hearing that the available retention is somewhere around a month. So you can expect about 30 days of retention and 10 Mbit speed. However, just remember the account is free so you have nothing to lose.

Xennanews free test accounts

As you can see Xennanews is down to about 550 free test accounts early in the morning on Friday, January 27th. I recommend you get one quickly because they will surely run out fast. All it requires to sign up for the free test account is an email address. Simply enter your email and click on the “Get” button to sign up. There is no cost and you will be immediately taken to a screen that shows your account details. That means you can hop right into the xennanews server. The server address is test.xennanews.com and available ports include 119 for non-SSL and 563 for SSL connections. Remember the free account is limited to 10 Mbit and 10 connections.

Cheers to the Xennanews team for giving away free test accounts. We hope you get in on the action. The account is a good one to have as a backup and for fills on newer content. I recommend Eweka as a primary Usenet service in Europe. They offer our visitors unlimited access to over 3,000 days of binary retention and speeds up to 100 Mbit for just €7,50 a month. You can read our Eweka review for more details and to save on unlimited Usenet access.

Giganews Scores Legal Victory for Usenet

Jan. 2017 update – Giganews has once again prevailed in the court of appeals over Perfect 10. Cheers to the Giganews team on their continued efforts.You can read the full verdict from the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Here’s a view of the conclusion in which the court of appeals affirms the district court’s decision. Read Giganews related blog post to learn more about the legal victory and their response.

Giganews legal victory


Feb. 2014 update – Last week Giganews scored a legal victory for Usenet.  The case involved Perfect 10 suing Giganews for copyright infringement.  They contended in part that Giganews was not protected by the DMCA Safe Harbor provision and that they were willfully distributing copyrighted content owned by Perfect 10.  The case started back in 2011 and recently brought a nice victory for Giganews and the Usenet community in general.

We’ll touch on a few of the issues brought forth in the Perfect 10 vs. Giganews case.  You can learn more by reading the verdict here.  It’s only 21 pages and is an interesting read for anyone who has ever wondered just how DMCA is supposed to work.  As it turns out Giganews is right in line with what the DMCA and Safe Harbor were meant to protect.  The case set some nice legal precedent to help protect Usenet providers in the future.

In reading the judgement you can tell that the judge wasn’t impressed by the case presented by Perfect 10.  They were very sloppy in their arguments.  Which isn’t all that surprising given their previous loses in court.  They seem hell bent on suing technology companies.  Trolling can be a lucrative business these days I suppose.  Instead this case helped define what expectations Usenet providers will have in terms of DMCA requests.

We’re not going to spend time explaining the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) because the judgement goes into detail for those who want to learn more about DMCA and Usenet.  Instead I want to share some of the arguments Perfect 10 made in the case along with the court’s response.  We’ll start with how Perfect 10 presented Giganews with takedown requests and then move on to some of the other issues in the case.

How Not to Present a DMCA Takedown Notice

Giganews has a page on their site that clearly defines the information they need for DMCA notices:

  1. Clear identification of the person or entity submitting the DMCA Notice.
  2. Clearly stated relationship to the copyright holder (self or authorized agent).
  3. Message-IDs for all articles the DMCA Notice is requesting Giganews take down. Please keep in mind some files are large enough to be posted across several Usenet articles; these are called multi-part posts. Be certain to identify by Message-ID all articles you want taken down.
  4. Clear statement, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that you are copyright holder, or authorized to act on behalf of the copyright holder.
  5. A “physical or electronic signature” of an authorized person to act on behalf of the owner. This is fulfilled by a name and a physical address that the authorized individual can be contacted should someone wish to contest your notification.
  6. While not legally required by the DMCA, including “copyright violation” in the subject line of your email will flag your DMCA Notice and bypass spam categorization.
  7. Submit the Notice to dmca2008@giganews.com, the email address we have registered with the Copyright office pursuant to Section 512(c) of the Copyright Act.

Did Perfect 10 follow those instructions?  Not at all.  According to the court documents Perfect 10 presented Giganews with a series of screenshots.  The images showed them using a newsreader to search for related content.  They sent that information over to Giganews and told them to remove everything related to those searches.  Nevermind that they didn’t provide the message ID’s for the articles to be deleted.

You can think of the message ID on a Usenet post like you would a URL for a web page.  In order to remove content from a news server the provider needs to know exactly what to delete.  A screenshot of a search performed in a newsreader isn’t at all adequate.  Imagine trying to deal with that kind of notice to find and remove specific posts.  There are so many flaws in that approach.  Thankfully the court agreed.

Yet another issue in the case was whether or not Giganews properly dealt with repeat infringers.  This is important to falling under safe harbor protection.  Something that technology companies like Google as well as Usenet providers rely on.  Giganews was able to show that they warn users after the first notice and terminate their account after any subsequent notices.  That’s their stance on dealing with repeat infringers.

Again the court agreed with Giganews.  At question was why Giganews hadn’t kicked off more users.  That really comes down to the decentralized nature of Usenet.  Just because Giganews receives a DMCA notice and removes content doesn’t mean it was posted on their service.  What if the content was posted by an Astraweb customer.  Giganews certainly can’t terminate their account.  Once again the court understood and agreed.

One other issue we found interesting had to do with peering.  Since Usenet is decentralized it relies on peering between news servers.  User generated content is copied between those servers.  Perfect 10 questioned whether or not the copying of data should be considered copyright infringement.  The judge sided with Giganews in that data being copied between servers in being done on behalf of the user that posted it.

This is a clear victory for Giganews and the Usenet community in general.  Cheers to the Giganews team for defending Usenet and setting some important legal precedent.  That’s a great way to kick off the new year.

You can visit Newsgroup Reviews to learn more about Usenet and join us on Twitter @NewsgroupRevs.

NewsDemon $10 Unlimited Usenet + VPN

Over the last couple years we’ve seen several leading Usenet providers add VPN to their list of offerings. The addition of VPN has helped protect the privacy of thousands of Usenet fans. It also helps users avoid geo restrictions to unlock sites in other countries. NewsDemon has partnered with SlickVPN to give members the option of affordable VPN access. They are currently offering a sale for new members with unlimited Usenet and VPN access for $10 a month. Better yet, you can sign up for 12 months of Usenet + VPN for just $92 a year.

NewsDemon

As you can see NewsDemon has several plans. In addition to those listed above, they also have a series of block accounts. We’re going to focus on the last three plans listed above. You will notice all three plans include VPN. They are each offered at a deep discount compared to the previous pricing. Let’s start at the top of the list and take a look at what’s included with each plan along with the price:

As a proponent of online privacy I recommend using the VPN included with NewsDemon. I’m not aware of any providers offering a better price on a monthly plan that includes Usenet and VPN. The sale is not an introductory price. The discount is recurring so you will save as long as the account is active. Enjoy unlimited Usenet + VPN for just $10 a month or $92 a year. That’s less than $8 a month for the annual plan.

In addition to rolling out new plans, the NewsDemon team has added TrustPilot to their site. This gives you a chance to see what users are saying about the service. Looking at the last 20 reviews, we saw a mix of feedback with 12 five stars, 2 four stars, 4 three star, and 2 one stars. A NewsDemon staff member made it a point to reply to the one star reviews. It’s nice to see the company being proactive in addressing any issues that members may have along the way. Their overall TurstPilot rating is currently 8.1 out of 10.

2017 Best Usenet Provider Awards

We’re excited to share our 2017 Editor’s Choice Award winners.  The honorees include some of the best known and most popular Usenet providers in the world.  Those who frequent Newsgroup Reviews know that we update the awards post on a regular basis to keep up with changes in the market.  This time around we’re excited to share enhancements to some popular Usenet services and the addition of VPN packages.

2017 Best Usenet Providers

You’ll notice that we celebrate the accomplishments of multiple newsgroup services with our Editors Choice Awards.  The reason is that we enjoy a number of Usenet providers and feel each offers an advantage over the others.  With criteria to include extra features, high retention, completion, performance, reliability and value.

Congratulations to all of our 2017 NGR Editor’s Choice Award winners.  We would like to thank each provider for their ongoing efforts in supporting the continued growth of Usenet.  The list of award recipients starts with Newshosting followed closely by UseNetServer, Easynews, Eweka, and Supernews.

Let’s take a closer look at our 2017 NGR Editor’s Choice winners for “Best Usenet Providers“:

Newshosting – Usenet + VPN + Client with Search

Newshosting Special

Expect the best performance and premium features for a value from Newshosting.  Including unlimited Usenet downloads and free access to their popular Newshosting Usenet client.  A very nice addition!  Along with uncapped speeds and free 256-bit SSL encryption.  Connect to their North American or European servers and enjoy unlimited Usenet.  All for just $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year (with VPN) via our NGR special.

Newshosting offers 3,000+ days of binary retention along with 1,400 days of text posts.  Subscribers enjoy unlimited Usenet access, Newshosting Usenet client, 256-bit SSL, uncapped speed and 24/7 support.  Take advantage of the Newshosting $9.99/mo. and $99.99/yr. unlimited Usenet specials.

UseNetServer – Usenet + VPN + Search

UseNetServer Special

UseNetServer provides an excellent mix of quality and value.  Since releasing their popular $10 unlimited Usenet special the service has grown rapidly.  UNS was always a staple in the industry but at $10 a month or $95.40 a year they’re really hard to pass up.  In addition to value, UseNetServer offers high retention and UNS Global Search.  Those who sign up for the UNS $95 a year deal also receive free unlimited VPN access.

UseNetServer offers 3,000+ days of binary retention along with two years of text posts.  Subscribers enjoy unlimited Usenet access, 256-bit SSL, 20 connections, uncapped speed and 24/7 live support.  Take advantage of the UNS $10/mo. and $95.40/yr. unlimited Usenet specials.

Easynews – Web Usenet Interface

Easynews Web Usenet

Easynews has everything you could ask for in a Usenet service including web access.  A feature that sets them apart from our other award winners.  The Easynews web interface allows users to browse newsgroups and stream content without the need for a newsreader.  Simply open your favorite web browser.  With third party apps for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android mobile devices.  Easynews offers 3,000 days of NNTP retention if you want to connect via newsreader.  Web retention is over 2,600 days.  Take the new web interface for a test drive.

Easynews offers web Usenet access in addition to iPhone and Android apps.  Especially useful to those new to Usenet and others who would rather avoid the need for additional software.  Take advantage of the Easynews 14 day free trial and $9.95 unlimited NNTP offers.

Eweka – European Usenet Access

Eweka Special

Eweka is our favorite Dutch Usenet provider.  You will be hard pressed to find a better European newsgroup service.  They offer the highest retention in the region along with high speed downloads.  You will need to have a Dutch IP address to sign up.  You can use a VPN to subscribe to the service.  After you sign up you can connect to their servers from anywhere in the world.  Eweka is perhaps the best kept secret in Usenet.

Eweka offers 3,000+ days of binary retention and 1,265 days of text posts.  Subscribers enjoy unlimited Usenet, 256-bit SSL, 100 Mbps speeds, and 24/7 support for just €7,50 a month.  The special also includes a free upgrade to 100 Mbit which normally costs an extra €2,10 a month.

Supernews – Usenet Only Access

Supernews Special

Supernews was one of the first Usenet providers in the market.  I remember using their service along with Newsguy in the late 90’s.  That may seem like a long time ago but Supernews remains one of the top names in the industry.  The newspaper man is back with a good value on Usenet access.  The only difference is that Supernews doesn’t include extras like software and VPN.  Otherwise the quality is excellent.

Supernews offers 2,350+ days of binary retention along with 4,500 days of text posts.  Members enjoy unlimited Usenet, 256-bit SSL, 30 connections, and 24/7 tech support.  Take advantage of our Supernews deal and sign up for $9.99/mo. or $99/yr. and enjoy unlimited Usenet access.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our 2017 Editor’s Choice Awards for the best Usenet providers.  Please help us recognize and congratulate the winners for their accomplishments.  We look forward to the year ahead.

Visit Newsgroup Reviews to learn more about Usenet and follow us @NewsgroupRevs for the latest deals.

Maximizing Astraweb Download Speeds

Jan. 9th update – According to Astraweb users on Reddit and our own testing it appears their news servers are down and have been for a few hours now. Newshosting has an unlimited Usenet + VPN plan for a comparable price if you need an alternative. Otherwise we suggest you set up both U.S. and European news servers for Astraweb. It won’t give you access to the service at the moment but could help with future slowdowns.

From time to time we hear from Astraweb members who are experiencing slow download speeds.  At first we referred them to the Astraweb speed troubleshooter and Astraweb tech support since a number of factors can cause slower than normal download speeds.  After reading some helpful tips and doing some testing of our own we found that splitting connections between their news servers can help maximize performance.

In a moment we’ll share some newsreader configuration tips that might help when slow downs occur.  First we’d like to mention that Astraweb performance is normally good.  We’ve been using the service for years and on occasion (normally on Sundays) the speeds can drop.  In those cases performance typically returns to normal within a few hours.  So rather than recommend alternatives we’re suggesting a workaround.

If you’re experiecing slow download speeds with Astraweb and have already taken the steps in their speed troubleshooter or know the issue isn’t on your end then try splitting your connections between Astraweb news servers.  We’ll give examples for both standard and SSL encrypted connections.

Astraweb has news servers in the US and Europe.  To maximize download speeds during times of slow performance we suggest you setup two servers and split your connections between them.

Here is the Astraweb news server info:

Secure (SSL encrypted):
ssl-us.astraweb.com (U.S. servers)
ssl-eu.astraweb.com (European servers)
– using port 443 or 563 (we recommend port 443)
– set each server to use 10 connections

Standard (non-SSL):
us.news.astraweb.com (U.S. servers)
eu.news.astraweb.com (European servers)
using port 119, 23, 1818 or 8080
set each server to use 10 connections

Not to confuse anyone.  Setting up two Astraweb servers is the same process you would take to setup news servers for two different Usenet providers.  You set each one up individually.  Perhaps using names like Astraweb US and Astraweb EU to easily differentiate between them in your newsreader.  If you think your ISP may be throttling Usenet downloads then try an alternate port.  Try port 443 for SSL and port 23 for non-SSL.

Visit Newsgroup Reviews to learn more about Usenet.  Follow us @NewsgroupRevs for the latest specials.

Newshosting Holiday Promotion

As we near closer to Christmas and New Year’s the team at Newshosting is giving everyone a gift.  They are giving all new members a chance to save 50% off and get a free month of VPN access.  That means you can enjoy unlimited Usenet + VPN access over the holidays for just $7.47 if you sign up for the Newshosting Unlimited plan during the sale. The Newshosting Holiday Promotion is live so you can save now. Those who download less can save even more with the $5 Newshosting Lite plan.

Newshosting Holiday Sale

If you’re not currently using Newshosting then I strongly suggest you sign up for an account to see just how much they have to offer.  Even before the free VPN promotion Newshosting was the best value in Usenet.  Now they’ve stepped up their game including free privacy protection with the VPN option.  The VPN allows two connections.  The VPN access alone is worth more than the price you’ll pay for Usenet and VPN combined.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the Newshosting holiday special:

  • Newshosting Lite (50 GB) – $5.00 the first month with free VPN.
  • Newshosting Unlimited (unlimited Usenet) – $7.47 the first month with free VPN.
  • Newshosting XL Powerpack (unlimited Usenet + VPN) – $9.97 the first month (includes VPN).

As you can see the price of the holiday special starts at $5.00 which is 50% below the retail price.  Those who sign up for the Lite or Unlimited plan will enjoy a free month of VPN. The XL Powerpack plan already includes VPN access. Want longer term savings? As an alternative to the holiday sale, you can sign up for our NGR Newhosting special and save with unlimited Usenet + VPN.  Pay just $99.99 for a year of unlimited Usenet access and receive full access to their network of 70 VPN servers across 17 countries free of charge.  That’s the best Usenet / VPN combo deal around.

On the Usenet side Newshosting was already the top listed Usenet service on our site.  They offer a lot of value with the free Newshosting Usenet client.  The new VPN offer sweetens the pot even more.  Newshosting offers over 3,050 days of binary retention and growing.  Along with NNTP servers in the United States and Europe.  You can use up to 30 connections but you won’t need that many.  Free 256-bit SSL will help secure your Usenet connections and using the VPN will help protect your privacy for other online activities.

Read our Newshosting review to learn more or sign up for the Newshosting Holiday Promotion and enjoy!

Easynews Holiday Giveaway

Our friends over at Easynews are celebrating the holiday season with a giveaway.  All new and existing members can enjoy an extra Christmas gift.  We read a tweet from a happy Easynews customer who won five bonus gigs and a free month of unlimited NNTP.  The unlimited NNTP alone is worth $9.95 a month so that’s a nice prize.  The Easynews Holiday Giveaway will end on Dec. 31st so visit Easynews.com to claim your gift.

Easynews Holiday Giveaway

The Easynews web interface is by far the best around.  Browse over 2,600 days of binary retention through your web browser.  With the ability to search for content, view images, preview and stream.  All without any software.  Then if you want to go beyond 2,600 days you can fire up your favorite newsreader and browse over 3,000 days of retention. You can check out our Easynews web interface review to see some of the features in action.

Confused by NNTP vs. web retention?  If so here’s a quick explanation:

  • NNTP retention uses newsgroup software like SABnzbd, Newsbin Pro, NewsLeecher, or Binreader to browse and download from Usenet.  Easynews includes NNTP access with all their plans.  They also have the option of unlimited NNTP Usenet for just $9.95 a month.  With or without a corresponding web plan.
  • The web interface and web retention are unique to Easynews.  A great choice for those new to Usenet who don’t want to mess with installing a client.  Use the web interface to search for content, preview, stream and download.  Easynews also supports iOS and Android.  New members can try it free for 14 days.

New and existing Easynews members will receive the following gifts this holiday season:

  • Big Gig subscribers receive 10 bonus gigs
  • Plus subscribers receive 5 bonus gigs + 1 month of unlimited NNTP
  • Classic subscribers receive 5 bonus gigs + 1 month of unlimited NNTP

Cheers to the Easynews team as they get into the gift of giving this holiday season.  Remember that all new and existing customers are eligible for the promotion.  Don’t forget to claim your gift before the end of the year.

Visit Newsgroup Reviews to learn more about Usenet and follow us @NewsgroupRevs for the latest deals.