Finding Free Usenet Servers
Newsgroup access is generally provided by one’s ISP but, in some cases, this will entail an extra charge. There are paid services online that offer access to newsgroups but, if one’s needs don’t include downloading binaries, there are a host of free Usenet servers available on the Internet that offer at least text downloads from the various groups. These services may be available for a variety of reasons including corporate-sponsorship of free servers that promote their products, university sponsorship of a free server to foster free speech and lively debates or simply bad network administration practices.
Free Usenet servers are sometimes maintained by corporations. Those corporations that provide these services do so for both their own and their customer’s benefit. While there are newsgroups for just about every type of technology and software, the length of time an article may be archived is determined by the company providing the access. The corporate servers allow the companies to keep useful articles alive indefinitely and, thus, allow technicians and end-users to access information which may help them solve any problems they have with the products. Of course, this is also good advertising for the company, a large part of the reason these servers are offered.
Universities offer free Usenet servers to anyone and everyone in the interest of keeping debate alive on the Internet. The good aspects of this service, aside from not paying a dime, is the fact that there will be a diversity of opinions and interests expressed on the server and that anyone can participate. On the downside, these servers generally don’t allow for the exchange of binary files. Exchanging binaries consumes large amounts of bandwidth and allowing this service at no charge would make the maintenance of the server unfeasible for almost any agency.
In some cases, free Usenet servers may be the result of the administrator of the server simply failing to provide adequate security. These servers, in most instances, will allow users full-access to the technology’s power, including the downloading and uploading of binaries. Of course, all this activity will soon catch the attention of the administrator and result in the security hole being patched, usually within a day or so. For that reason, these servers are usually not a reliable means of obtaining access to newsgroups. There are various sites that keep lists of such servers and the entries usually change by the day.
Free Usenet servers are excellent for technicians and for those who have no real interest in using the binary exchange functionality of the various groups. Between a university server and a corporate server, most users will easily be able to find all the information they need regarding any subject, albeit only in text form. Those free servers that do allow binary exchange may be fleeting in their existence, but are a useful option for those who don’t require consistent access to the service and who don’t want to add an extra charge to their monthly Internet access bill.