Free NCAA March Madness Apps

It’s that time of year again.  With day 1 of March Madness underway, hopefully your NCAA tourney bracket isn’t too beat up.  We also enjoy the surprises that come each year over the first weekend.  This might seem a little off topic since we normally cover Usenet but I know a lot of our blog readers will be enjoying the tournament along with us.  Here are some free March Madness apps for iOS and Android to help you enjoy the tourney.

If you plan to watch March Madness from outside the USA we suggest using a Smart DNS service.

NCAA March Madness Live

Free March Madness Apps

This year you can stream every game shown on CBS for free using the NCAA March Madness Live app.  The app is available for iPhone and iPad via iTunes.  Android users can download it free from Google Play.  If you’ve cut the cord on cable you can still watch all the CBS games which include a lot of important games this weekend and all of the NCAA Sweet 16 and beyond.  TBS, TNT and truTV games are open to paid subscribers.

ESPN Bracket Bound

ESPN Bracket Bound App

Keep track of the NCAA tourney brackets with the ESPN bracket bound app.  The app is free and available for iPhone and iPad via iTunes.  Those with Android devices can download the app free from Google Play.

ESPN ScoreCenter

ESPN ScoreCenter App

Use ESPN’s free ScoreCenter app to view the latest scores, read news, and watch video highlights.  iPhone and iPad users can download it free from iTunes.  Android users can grab ScoreCenter from Google Play.

You can check out more free sports related apps in either app store.  Enjoy this year’s March Madness!

IPVanish Cyber Monday VPN Sale

Have you been considering VPN access to help protect your online privacy or avoid geographic restrictions?  If so Cyber Monday is bringing you the best prices of the year.  IPVanish is offering new members unlimited VPN access from just $3.90 a month.  That’s over 60% off the retail price.  Monthly sign ups receive a second month free.  With deep discounts on quarterly and annual plans.  Visit IPVanish.com during Cyber Monday to sign up.

IPVanish Cyber Weekend Sale

Since we know some will be wondering whether or not VPN is necessary for Usenet the answer is no.  Yet it compliments it well.  While most Usenet providers offer SSL encryption to secure your connection that doesn’t extend beyond your newsreader.  With a VPN connection you can feel secure while performing other activities online.  Not just web browsing either since VPN protects all your applications.  An advantage over proxies.

There are literally hundreds of VPN services out there and IPVanish is the only one we’ll be mentioning today.  That’s not to downplay others but we’ve seen the best performance from IPVanish.  Since most our readers want and expect high speed connections we think IPVanish is a great fit.  They offer free VPN clients for both Windows and Mac.  Along with support for Linux, iPhone, iPad, Android, DD-WRT routers and more.

For our tech savvy readers IPVanish supports all three major VPN protocols including OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP.  We use OpenVPN in their client while relying on L2TP or PPTP on mobile devices.  Gamers will appreciate the ability to choose between TCP and UDP connections.  You can switch between servers anytime.  With over 225 servers in 63 countries to choose from.  You can even connect two devices at the same time.

We could continue pouring on the praise for IPVanish but I think you get the picture.  It’s a favorite of ours and we use their VPN service on a regular basis.  You can read our IPVanish review to learn more.  Don’t delay too long though.  Remember to visit IPVanish.com before midnight PST on Cyber Monday to take advantage of the sale.

Using SSL and Personal VPN To Secure Usenet Access

Today we’d like to share some tips to help secure your privacy while accessing Usenet.  Along with browsing the web and other applications.  We get questions all the time from users who want to secure their connections.  Most of them are familiar with the term SSL from secure online transactions.  Yet they might not have experience configuring a newsreader for SSL.  We will explain the process.  Along with the advantages of personal VPN’s.

Secure Usenet access

Let’s start by answering a couple of questions in regard to SSL.

  • What is SSL and why would I want to use it?

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer.  We all use SSL for tasks like shopping online and accessing bank, credit card or other financial services.  Why not take advantage of the same encryption to secure your Usenet connection.

  • Why do I need secure Usenet access?

We won’t call it a ‘need’ but it is certainly our preference to secure our data online.  Including user name and password.  In addition SSL can help prevent the hassle of ISP bandwidth throttling and deep packet inspection.

Tip #1 – Find a Usenet Provider with SSL and Alternate Ports

In conjunction with SSL, alternate ports will help in securing your Usenet connection while minimizing the risk of poor performance from ISP throttling.  Instead of using the port your ISP expects for secure Usenet traffic some providers offer alternate ports.  While most Usenet services offer SSL encryption you have to look closer to see if alternate ports are available. We provide a table of alternate news server ports on NGR to help.

Here are a few leading Usenet providers that offer alternate ports:

Tip #2 – Configure Your Newsreader for SSL Usenet Access

Assuming you found a good Usenet provider with SSL access its time to configure your newsreader for secure access.  We will demonstrate with a couple of examples.  First with Newshosting using their new Usenet client.  Then again with UseNetServer using Newsbin Pro.

  • Configuring SSL with Newshosting and the new Newshosting Usenet client

If you haven’t had a chance to try the new Newshosting client they are currently offering a 14 day free trial.  Once downloaded you simply launch the newsreader.  Entering in your username and password credentials.  Next click on OptionsSettings and choose the Connection tab.  Here is the resulting screen:

The process couldn’t be much easier.  As you don’t even need the news server address to access via the Newshosting newsreader.  You’ll notice an option at the bottom of the screen labeled ‘Prefer SSL connections if available‘.  Simply check the box.  Then choose your desired port.  The default SSL port for Usenet is 563.  For most this is fine but we highly recommend using port 443.  As port 443 is the same port secure web traffic passes over.  Not much chance your ISP will want to mess with traffic on port 443.

  • Configuring SSL with UseNetServer and Newsbin Pro newsreader

This is more of the traditional process for those who have their own Usenet client.  We use UseNetServer for this example since they rank #1 on NGR and offer $10 unlimited Usenet access.  Along with our top rated newsreader – Newsbin Pro which offers a free trial download.

After opening Newsbin Pro click on OptionsServers.  Choose the server you entered during setup or add a new service.  Either way the news server address for SSL access to UNS is secure.usenetserver.com – enter it into the Server Address field as shown below.

Just under the Server Address box you’ll notice an option for ‘Use SSL – Encrypted Connections‘.  Check the box and then enter a port number.  Again the default SSL port for NNTP is 563.  For best performance (to deter ISP traffic tampering) we suggest you use port 443.

Tip #3 – Consider a Personal VPN Service

Our final tip goes well beyond Usenet.  As we believe that all your online activities should be private and secure.  We’re not advocating bad behavior either.  We just believe that what you do online is your business.  If you choose to tell everyone about it on Facebook that’s one thing.  However, if you want privacy then a VPN will help.

For full disclosure we’d like to point out that in addition to NGR we manage a VPN review site – vpnsp.com – where we’re working hard to build up a complete resource for those seeking VPN access.  Nearly two years into the project we feel good about it’s progress and are happy to share VPNSP with our readers.

Personal VPN’s offer a number of advantages.  Here’s are a few examples of how VPN access might help you:

  • Secure Wi-Fi access – always protect yourself on open networks!
  • Secure Internet access, email, Skype, VoIP, etc.
  • Anonymous Internet access – protect your personal information from sites that profile visitors
  • Help decrease the chance of your ISP throttling traffic
  • Don’t allow others to track you by your IP address
  • Enjoy familiar content while traveling – Netflix, Hulu. YouTube, Facebook, Pandora, etc.

Just like Usenet providers, personal VPN services are not all created equal.  There are a number of factors to consider when comparing VPN providers.  Before purchasing an account consider these features:

  • Don’t overpay.  Just like anything else the most expensive providers aren’t always the best.  You can easily find quality VPN access for under $10 a month.  With annual plans as low as $6 a month – VPN specials
  • Does the service offer unlimited VPN? – as many Usenet fans will want unlimited usage.
  • How large is the VPN provider’s network?  How many countries does it span?  How many total servers?  How many total IP addresses?
  • Total IP addresses is very important.  While most smaller services don’t advertise the number, leading services like IPVanishHide My Ass, OverPlay andgladly share this information.  Think of IP’s as the number of seats a VPN service has open.  If those seats fill you can’t connect.
  • Look for a service that supports OpenVPN, L2TP and PPTP protocols.  OpenVPN will provide the best security while L2TP/IPSec and PPTP will extend compatibility to iOS and Android devices.
  • If you want to secure your entire home network with one VPN account look for a service that supports DD-WRT routers.

Here are a few leading personal VPN services to consider:

We hope you’ve found our tips for helping secure your Usenet access with SSL and VPN useful.  For more information on secure Usenet access visit Newsgroup Reviews.  For those who would like to learn more about VPN visit our VPN Service Providers review site.  Follow us on Twitter – @NewsgroupRevs and @VPNSP for the latest Usenet and VPN news along with special promotions.

IPVanish Launches Global VPN Network

Those seeking to protect their online privacy should check out the public launch of IPVanish.  A number of Easynews members had the opportunity to test the new VPN service during it’s beta and we joined in as well.  IPVanish blends a mix of the best VPN offerings with the performance and reliability you’ve come to expect from a leading provider.  All at a great price.  New members enjoy unlimited VPN access for just $10 a month.

IPVanish launches with an impressive mix of features.  Starting with the VPN network itself.  IPVanish covers 14 countries with servers located in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Japan, Hungary, Turkey, Switzerland, Portugal and Malaysia.  Bringing the best VPN protocols – OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP to support a wide variety of devices.  Connect from Windows (7, Vista, XP), Mac or Ubuntu.  Along with iPhone, iPad and Android.  Their site includes setup guides for all the devices.

On top of the features and easy set up guides is the IPVanish VPN client.  A nice addition to the service and one that doesn’t normally come at launch.  With the IPVanish client members can easily connect to any server and switch between them on the fly.  This makes changing IP’s and locations a breeze.  As for performance the results of our IPVanish speed tests were impressive.  With download speeds over 25 Mbps.

The most important factor of the IPVanish launch and future success is their team.  We’ve seen their passion for building the best VPN service.  It was obvious to those who tested IPVanish.  Now we all help in celebrating their official launch.  We encourage you to sign up for IPVanish and try the service for yourself.  In their words:

Our passion and goal is to bring you the absolute best VPN service—the best speeds, the most secure connections, the best technical support, and the most competitive pricing available anywhere.

That sentence carries a lot of meaning.  We always talk about the ‘value’ offered by leading Usenet providers and the same applies to personal VPN.  Providing the best VPN service at the best possible price.  Our definition of a winner.  We look forward to the growth of IPVanish and welcome you to join us as members.

Visit vpnsp.com to learn more about VPN Services.  Follow us @VPNSP for the latest VPN specials.

Ngroups VPN Hands-On Review

Last week we wrote about Ngroups releasing a new VPN service and including it free with unlimited Usenet plans.  With VPN access ranging from 50 GB a month for ‘Unlimited Eco’ members to unlimited VPN for ‘Unlimited Extra’ subscribers.  Since then we’ve had a chance to test the service for ourselves and will be sharing our impressions.  Note: NGR visitors can enjoy Unlimited Eco accounts for just $9.99 a month.

Ngroups VPN Review

Ngroups ‘Unlimited Eco’ and ‘Unlimited Extra’ members already enjoy unlimited online storage from Livedrive.  Now they can also take advantage of Ngroups new VPN offering which is provided by ItsVPN.  Ngroups unlimited subscribers can connect to VPN servers in the U. S. or Europe via PPTP protocol.  Those interested in more locations can consider the additional plan options from ItsVPN or compare VPN services.

The first thing we noticed when testing Ngroups VPN is the easy integration of their systems.  There is no need to setup a different account.  Simply use your Ngroups username and password to connect to either VPN server.

Ngroups VPN Server Addresses:

  • United States – vpn.us.Ngroups.NET
  • Europe – vpn.eu.Ngroups.NET

Ngroups VPN Protocols:

Since Ngroups is offering PPTP connections their VPN is a breeze to setup.  They include a link to instructions inside the account control panel.  With tutorials for Windows 7, Vista and XP.  Along with Mac OS X and Linux (Ubuntu).  While PPTP isn’t quite as secure as other protocols like OpenVPN, it is compatible with a wide variety of devices.  Including iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android.  Ngroups includes those setup guides as well.

Ngroups VPN Speed Test:

  • As you can see below we ran a speed test before connecting to Ngroups VPN.  With a download speed of 43.41 Mb/s and upload of 3.17 Mb/s.  After connecting to the U. S. Ngroups VPN server we retested.  The download speed was 9.21 Mb/s and upload was 3.01 Mb/s.  We’ve seen faster and slower.  You can compare the results to other providers in the VPN speed test section of VPNSP.  You can expect some slow down from any VPN as it encrypts the traffic.  The Ngroups VPN performed well enough to stream Netflix.

  • We also tested a connection to their European VPN server.  Understanding that the distance will definitely reduce performance.  The results were 2.44 Mb/s download and 2.85 Mb/s upstream.  As expected the ping times were pretty high as well.  If you’re in Europe and test the service please let us know you’re results.  We would guess the performance is acceptable given our experience with testing the U. S. VPN server.

Ngroups VPN vs. Giganews VPN:

  • Since Giganews released their VyprVPN service, Ngroups is the first major Usenet service to respond with their own offering.  So I guess it’s only fair to compare the two offerings.
  • Ngroups VPN offers PPTP connections with servers in the United States and Europe along with unlimited Usenet and online storage for $9.99 a month (NGR Deal).
  • Giganews VPN offers PPTP and L2TP/IPSec connections with servers in the U. S., U. K., France, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.  Along with unlimited Usenet for $34.99 a month.

Ngroups VPN Review – Conclusion:

We enjoyed testing the Ngroups VPN service.  The performance was fast enough to stream Netflix in the U. S.  We’ve tested several VPN services and Ngroups (ItsVPN) would rank somewhere in the middle.  Which is pretty darn good considering they are offering it free to unlimited Usenet members.  We look forward to keeping an eye on Ngroups Usenet + online storage + VPN services.  Those who would like to join can save 10%.

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

Ngroups Adds Free VPN Service

Earlier today Ngroups announced the addition of free VPN access for their unlimited Usenet members.  Now in addition to unlimited online storage users can also enjoy online privacy.  Personal VPN services like the one being offered by Ngroups help protect users privacy.  In addition to securing public WiFi connections and unblocking content from abroad.  Ngroups offers 50 GB or unlimited VPN based on your Usenet plan.

According to the announcement members can connect to VPN servers in either the US or Europe.  In the near future we will bring you more details on the VPN offering along with a review.  In the meantime NGR visitors can enjoy unlimited Usenet access + online storage and 50 GB of VPN access for just $9.99 a month.

Here’s a summary of Ngroups new VPN offering emailed to us earlier today:

As part of our commitment to excellence, we have updated our service offerings for the Usenet newsgroup services at our Ngroups.NET web site.

We are now offering:

FREE VPN service, included for users having an Unlimited Ngroups.NET Usenet account.

The VPN service offers servers in two locations, US or Europe.

  • “Unlimited Eco” account users are limited to 5Mbps speed and 50GB/month transfer via the VPN servers. (But off course still no limit in Usenet downloads by normal means, direct nntp or nntps not via the VPN.)
  •  “Unlimited Extra” users have no limit in speed or transfer via the VPN servers.

The VPN servers are of course available for use with ANY service, normal web browsing, VOIP, Web TV services, etc.

(The only exception is outgoing E-mail – to prevent spammers from using the service to send bulk emails.)

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

UseNetNow and BlockNews VPN Beta Test

UseNetNow and Blocknews fans will be happy to hear that the team behind both providers is testing a new VPN service.  According to their DSL Reports post, VPN access is deployed in the United States and ready for beta testing.  Those interested in joining the VPN beta should visit DSLR and send Swintec a private message.

UseNetNow / Blocknews are the first Usenet providers outside of Giganews to offer Personal VPN access.  Interesting given the price difference of the service.  With Giganews Diamond accounts costing $34.99 a month and UseNetNow costing $12 a month ($10.39 a month for NGR visitors).  Not to say that the VPN service will be offered for free.  We’ll let you know once pricing details are released.

If history repeats itself we’ll likely see more Usenet providers offering VPN access.  Looking back to last year NewsDemon, NewsgroupDirect and Ngroups added online storage.  A feature Giganews is currently developing.  While Giganews released their Mimo Usenet client last year followed by Newshosting’s newsreader + Usenet search feature last month.  Now it appears the latest value added feature will be VPN.

Might this put some pricing pressure on Giganews?  As they raised the price of Diamond accounts from $29.99 to $34.99 earlier this year.  We would imagine it’s getting more and more difficult for Giganews members to justify paying that much for the service.  Especially given the quality and features offered elsewhere for 1/3 of the price.  With UseNetServer, Newshosting, NewsDemon, Astraweb, Easynews and Ngroups offering unlimited Usenet with extras (newsreader, web access, online storage, etc.) for under $10 a month.

We are personally big fans and supporters of online privacy.  Managing a site dedicated to personal VPN – vpnsp.com – and testing new VPN services every week.  For us VPN isn’t a necessity for Usenet downloads.  Yet it goes a long way for protecting yourself online.  Especially when using public wi-fi connections.  In addition to helping unblock content like Netflix, Hulu and social networking sites while abroad.

UseNetNow / Blocknews is currently testing the VPN service in the United States.  With the possibility of adding additional access from Amsterdam.  Swintec (who manages both services) explains on DSLR:

To be honest, I do not want to push Usenet to be used with the VPN together as it really is overkill. I think of the VPN as more of a value added service, which I think is far more useful than secure storage….not to mention no others have deployed it yet to match Giganews with their Usenet/VPN offering.

We’re likely to see more providers offering VPN access and other value added services in the not too distant future.  As always we look forward to this time of the year.  As the Usenet season starts to heat up we see new innovations.  Much like the Newshosting client last month and now UseNetNow / Blocknews VPN.

Visit Newsgroup Reviews to learn more about Usenet.  Including hands-on reviews of leading newsgroup providers, guides, free trials and special offers.  Follow us @NewsgroupRevs for the latest Usenet news.