File Sharing : Usenet Vs Torrents

While choosing between Usenet and Torrents, it is necessary to factor-in the following considerations:

(1) Cost
Usenet is not free. Unlike torrents, which are files downloaded from fellow Internet users (peer based) and therefore no centralised server is needed to actually host the files, Usenet relies upon physical servers somewhere. A Usenet “service provider” is therefore needed, and the cost depends upon:

  • Bandwidth limits – everything from 5GB/month to unlimited downloads.
  • Retention, which means how long a file is kept until it is deleted from the servers. Obviously, a longer retention is better because there’ll be a larger selection of files to choose from. This can range from a month, which is virtually useless, to 5 years.
  • Extras and features – such as secure, encrypted connections; a free VPN you can use; a good quality own-brand client, and a free indexing service.

(2) Speed
Usenet is much faster than torrents, since you’re downloading directly from a server that’s optimized for it, rather than a collection of random peers all over the world. It does depend upon your provider and service plan though of course – unlimited download plans will often be throttled or capped at a certain speed, while a fixed bandwidth download plan will usually let you have that at full speed. Speeds up to 10 times faster than a well-seeded torrent are not unusual.

(3) Selection
Usenet isn’t what it used to be, and as the filesharing trend toward torrents shifted, so did the uploaders and the selection available. In particular, anything obscure or even trying to find something specific is handled far better in torrents – Usenet just doesn’t have that much to download anymore.

(4) Software
Serious users of Usenet for file sharing means you really do need a good client. Essential features to look for should include at the very least:

  • Automatic combination of separate file parts.
  • Seamless RAR file extraction and PAR regeneration.
  • Search.
  • Previews or inline .nfo file display, used to tell the download about the contents of the set.

Finding a client is quite a personal choice though that depends on your usage. If you’re going to use an indexing service that provides NZB links for example, then any client that can autocombine parts should be sufficient. If not, your client should have an extensive search and directory facility.

(5) PAR
PAR – or “parity” files are additional data files that can be used to regenerate corrupted or missing parts of the original set – any single PAR file can used to regenerate any single corrupted RAR section, basically. They work by using parity bits, so instead of literally being a copy of the missing file, they’re a calculated set of bits thats says what should be there.

(6) Safety
Many Usenet providers will encrypt transmissions with 256-bit SSL, but combine with a VPN for the ultimate in security. Giganews Platninum plan comes complete with VyprVPN for instance – which you can use for all traffic, and not just Usenet.

Torrents can also be made relatively secure, again through the use of a premium VPN and PeerBlock software.

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