I know there are a ton of sites out there devoted to Usenet and Indexers. So why do we need another? Well, for starters, you won't find another website with an Indexer list as complete as this one. You won't find one that's as current as this one. And, you won't find one that's 100% non-profit like this one.
I'm not working for anyone. I don't accept compensation in any form for what I put on this site. In short, I don't have a dog in the fight for the best Indexer or Provider. In fact, you won't find any ratings or rankings here. This site is for reference only; not for recommendations.
Everyone has different experience, needs, equipment, and so on. I can give you information, but you have to decide what works for you. I can't make a decision for you. But I can save you a ton of time looking for Indexers. I can give you some facts about these Indexers that may help you narrow your choices. The rest is up to you.
I hope you find the information here useful. And if you want to read more of my rants, ravings, and ramblings check back for new blog entries.
Do you like Tamales? Not every day, but just once in a while. Sometimes nothing hits the spot like a really good tamale or two (or three). The neat thing about a tamale is you can put in just about anything, chicken, cheese, vegetables. You can make them many ways but they’re still a tamale.
So, what the hell does this have to do with usenet, Indexers and downloading? We’ll get to that later. Today I’d like to talk about what we download…movies, TV shows, music, etc. What kind of downloader are you? Do you download stuff you’ve never seen, watch it once and then just file it away in your library? Do you download something you’ve seen or heard before because you want to watch/listen to it again?
Although there are many different types of downloaders, I think the two largest groups are hoarders and entertainment lovers. Hoarders download everything they can get their hands on. They will download and save movies they have no intention of watching. For them, it’s not about watching or listening to something, it’s about the quantity or size of their library.
I know people that have petabytes of movies and TV shows but they wind up watching HBO because they’re too lazy to look through their library for something to watch. They like the acquisition rather than the use of what they have. Now I’m not saying this is wrong. It’s just they way they like to do things. It’s what gives them pleasure and that’s okay.
I also know people that have relatively small collections and normally only watch what’s in their library. They have movies or TV shows that they could watch a hundred times and enjoy the viewing experience each and every time. Some might say these people need to try new things. But, there’s nothing wrong with the way they download either. It’s just the way they like to do things and that’s okay too.
There is no right or wrong way or reason to download. The point is to do what makes you happy. Nobody has the right to tell you that you download too much or you download the wrong things or any of that. Anyone that tells you that you’re stupid for downloading stuff you’ll never watch or listen to is just being a snob. And anyone that belittles you for having a small library is also a snob.
I once got into a rather heated debate with a hoarder. He was bragging about the 100s of terabytes he had in his movie library. And he made fun of the fact that I only had about 30Tb total in my libraries. He called me a ‘small-time’ downloader and that if I was a ‘serious’ downloader, I’d have at least a couple of hundred terabytes. He was dismissive, condescending and arrogant.
Another time someone argued with me that I was dumb for watching the same movie over and over. They said I needed to get a life and try new things. They said I was too old to understand what this downloading thing was all about. They said all this old stuff I had was nothing but junk and that they wouldn’t be caught dead watching something in 4:3 format. They proudly proclaimed that they only downloaded stuff that was a specific codec and container and it had to be 4k 2160p UHD.
It never ceases to amaze me how petty people can be. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the smartest usenet user. At best, I’m about average. There are people way smarter than I am in this hobby. However, I do know what I like. And I enjoy what I’ve downloaded. I consider myself lucky because I’ve been able to find just about everything I ever wanted to collect in the way of movies, TV shows, and albums.
I’m not in a rush to collect things these days. Oh, I still collect new TV shows and movies through Radarr and Sonarr. But there’s no more massive list of titles that I want. I’ve moved on from enjoying the hunt to enjoying the prize. And since I don’t get my kicks out of having some massive Google size storage farm, I’m not spending that much money on the hobby any more.
I know I’m a little different from most people in this racket. I’m old and I’ve found that sweet spot of having enough stuff to keep me occupied and give me enjoyment without having to constantly be searching for more stuff. That doesn’t mean my way is the best. It’s just what’s best for me. For people that enjoy collecting just for the sake of gathering more and more stuff, their way is okay too. The only difference may be that for a hoarder, you may never reach the finish line because it doesn’t exist. In the final analysis, both ways are okay if they bring you satisfaction.
So, the next time someone derides me for having a small library of old stuff, I think I’ll tell them about the tamale. Did you know that tamales date back as far as 8000BC and they are still enjoyed by people today? They aren’t as big as a family-sized pizza or a whole roasted turkey, but they still taste good. A small tasty treat from an old recipe can be just as satisfying.
I think I’ll have a tamale.
It seems humans are drawn to drama. That’s the only way I can explain why we hear more bad news than good news on TV and read it in online communities. I guess it’s all part of the “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality. More and more I read complaints, name-calling, on-line fights, etc. The negative side of discussion seems to grow and grow. Civil debate has deteriorated into shouting matches. Is this just the way things are or is it instinctual or is it nurtured thru others?
I submit that it’s entirely possible that there are just as many good things going on as bad but we just notice them less. We just have to stop and take the time to acknowledge the good when we see it. In the world of internet downloading, I’m sure there are many people that upload things just because they get a kick out of doing it. And more than a few probably do it as a way of giving to the community.
Maybe the problem is we don’t hear about these people. They toil quietly in the background and the necessary seclusion else they be found out. It’s a shame they don’t get the recognition they deserve. And what about all the people that share their knowledge and experience with new users? Especially the patient and respectful ones that never seem to get flustered by the same questions being asked over and over.
I think there are plenty of good stories out there just waiting to be told. What we also need is for people to say “Thank you” more. If we made as big of a fuss about someone doing something good as we do about someone doing something bad, maybe we’d notice the good things more. Praising good deeds more might also help online discussion become more civil.
Just as modeling good behavior is important in raising kids, it’s also critical if we want good online communities. I must admit, I dread reading Reddit posts. It can be a cesspool of snarky post replies, condescending gurus, thread hijackers, and censorship. Reddit seems to be heavy on negativity and sarcasm and light on good manners. That’s what makes it such a depressing place to visit.
These problems with Reddit wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the kernels of good information you can find there; you just have to get past all the crap. It’s so sad that there are all these extremely smart people on Reddit with encyclopedic knowledge that could be so helpful if it weren’t for the fact that they cover their answers in a thick coating of snobbish negativity.
They decry the lack of research by newbies and say asking questions is a crutch. They automatically assume that if a newbie asks a question that they feel is elementary, that the newbie has done no background reading and is just looking for a handout. They have completely forgotten the long journey they had to take to educate themselves.
They demean young, inexperienced questioners by calling them stupid. And when they do explain things, they use the most complicated techno babble they can think of. I swear they do this on purpose. It’s this bad behavior by ‘experts’ that becomes ingrained in people’s minds as they learn and grow. And the cycle continues. Unless, of course, they come across smart people that are patient, respectful and kind.
These are the true unsung heroes of online communities. These are the people that we need to celebrate more. The pure altruism shown by these people is a shining light in a dark online world. Yes, they are out there. We just need to find them, learn from them, and thank them. We need to model their behavior no matter how hard things get. We just need to learn from their example and pass it on to others.
What we write in online communities and more importantly, how we write it, has a direct effect on the overall tone of the discussions. This is especially true when dealing with newbies. Before you slam someone for asking a ‘stupid’ question or asking the same question for the umpteenth time, take a breath, count to ten, and remember your first few days as you tried to learn this hobby.
I have no evidence that the mods at r/usenet are influenced by some form of compensation so we won’t even go there. I also don’t have any evidence that they are more friendly with one provider than another. As with everybody, I don’t want them doxxed. They have a right to their privacy. However, I do feel they do have a responsibility to tell the truth. And the omission of truth is the same as telling an untruth in my opinion.
It occurs to me that if it’s okay to talk about providers on the subreddit, it should be okay for the mods to say which of these providers gave testimony of wrong doing by Speedium and those providers should also have empirical evidence of the alleged wrong doing. Otherwise, the discussion is left to idle speculation and conjecture. People should have the right to face their accusers.
Furthermore, this debate should be in the open light of a public forum, not hidden behind private whispers between mods and providers. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Granted, some details which are covered by NDAs may remain hidden but general discussion should be allowed. Let people that are using Speedium share their experience. Let people that have questions ask them. Don’t just blindly embargo any mention of Speedium.
If those responsible for r/usenet can’t allow free speech, then we need another forum for the discussion of Usenet providers and Indexers. A place where information is shared openly. Let the trial of providers and indexers occur in open court. Let there be lively debate. Don’t wall off discussion or place limits with unnecessary rules. Remember how the internet used to be.
I implore those responsible for r/usenet and every other message board to lift the shades of censorship and let the light of free speech bathe their members with the information that can expand their knowledge and enhance their Usenet experience. Give caution where needed, but be prudent in how you give it. Without good evidence, our opinions are just that…opinions. And we should frame them as such.
I mentioned before that we need a place or places where people can speak freely. Where no Indexer or Provider’s name is banned from discussion. I also said we need good information on Indexers and Providers so we can make informed buying decisions. We need more than just a few company names and a handful of reviews. We need cold, hard facts. And we need this information to be kept up to date.
I have been collecting Indexer data for a long time and I publish it on my website nerosbb.com. The site has no ads and I receive no compensation in any form from anyone. I don’t rate or rank my research; I leave that up to you. I just supply what I’ve found. I do this because it’s my hobby and I enjoy it. I don’t claim to be the final authority, but I do have a lot of good information.
I update that site as soon as I find new information or as soon as someone alerts me to something new or if something has changed. I’d like to think I have the most complete and current information available anywhere. In the next month or so, I’ll have the same detailed information for Providers. I promise to work just as hard to keep that information current as well.
The other venture I have is a discord server where people can freely discuss Usenet Indexers and Providers. Here’s the link https://discord.gg/VgcD57G. I seriously doubt it will ever have the following that r/usenet does on Reddit. But if you’re looking for a place that doesn’t have the restrictions you find other places, you’re welcome to visit and participate if you’re inclined to do so.
Wherever you decide to get your information I wish you success. I hope you get the help you need when you need it. And I hope you have the opportunity to speak freely when the mood strikes. And remember, the trouble with free speech is that it insists on living up to its name.
Here’s where I’m going to get into trouble. Now I’m going to get specific about providers and censorship. This writing will never appear on many message boards. Links to this writing will be removed. I most likely will be banned from some places. And I am confident that many people will crawl out of the woodwork to blast everything I’ve written. That’s okay. It won’t be the first time. I’m a happy warrior willing to be a lone voice in the dark.
One of the most popular places to get Usenet information is the r/usenet subreddit. It has, at this writing, over 64,000 members and typically has hundreds of members online at any given time. There’s every type of user there. There are dozens of very smart, helpful members always willing to provide assistance. There is lively discussion and yes, it sometimes gets ugly.
Overall, it is probably one of the better sources of Usenet information. A lot of hard work has been done to list Usenet providers, Indexers, FAQs and so on. And I’m quite sure that most of the people involved in gathering and posting this information are not compensated in any form. Many of the people there do what they do because they want to share and take great pride in what they’ve accomplished. Rightfully so.
The rules for this subreddit are fairly straight forward and follow standard reddiquette guidelines. They also have a rule stating Indexer invites should be posted on the r/usenetinvites subreddit which makes perfectly good sense. As I look through the rules, they start off rather general and reasonable in scope. Until I get to the last rule.
“No promoting of 'backdoor' access into usenet providers' networks. This includes hacking, using a loophole, or other methods not publicly advertised by the usenet provider.” This rule is where things start to get sticky. Deciphering exactly what they mean here is rather difficult in my opinion. It seems to be a big gray area where interpretation can be highly subjective.
This rule was recently used to squash commentary on a Usenet provider named Speedium. One user alleged wrong doing on the part of Speedium and gave a lot of detailed evidence that they say backs up their claim. The mods of that subreddit eventually banned almost all discussion of Speedium because they said they had received collaborating comments from many other providers’ representatives.
The people from Speedium were reluctant to enter into a debate due to non-disclosure agreements they had with other parties. This left them unable to mount an adequate defense. The specifics of the conversations between the other providers’ representatives and the mods was not disclosed. All we got was a “well, we heard from other people that this or that was going on and we believe them.” So, a lid was put on any further commentary.
I’m not affiliated with Speedium so I don’t really have a dog in this fight. I just find it odd that all discussion was shut down because Speedium allegedly broke this ‘backdoor’ rule. Aside from my curiosity as to why that rule exists in the first place, I was left wondering what the whole story was and why the members were left with a “because I said so” ruling by the mods.
Yes, I know it’s their subreddit and they can do what they want with it, but it seems to me that considering how many people look to this venerable site for information and guidance there should be more transparency. Moreover, if Speedium is so bad, wouldn’t the mods want to be as specific as they can with evidentiary proof of wrong doing so people will know what’s going on?
If Speedium was so bad, silence would be like knowing that people are walking into a mine field and not warning them where the mines are and how to avoid them. To continue this analogy, the mods are just sitting back and watching as people get blown up because they didn’t have the information they need.
Or, and this is even worse, is all the negativity surrounding Speedium unfounded?
To be continued…
The search for the best combination of Usenet service providers is fraught with myriad considerations. Everyone has different needs, technical abilities and budgets. I don’t think we can arrive at a ‘best’ combination. However, I do think we can develop groups of combinations that can serve the needs of different groups of people.
These various groups could include entry level/budget conscience users, ‘cruise-control’ users that like to just set up Sonarr and sit back, the semi-pro user that wants to deep dive on occasion, and the hardcore data hoarder. Certainly, these groups wouldn’t contain every user, but at least it could be a start. I do feel the time has come for us to look at all the questions that get asked over and over and give people a resource that can be a reference for new users.
A better reference for new users would not relieve them of their responsibility to read and inform themselves to be sure. But it could reduce some of the repetitive questions and raise the discussion of provider combinations to a higher level. Opinions will always differ and arguments will continue because of the variables involved in any purchase decision. But maybe we can at least make a stab at narrowing or filtering all this information.
In order to do that though, we need to identify as many providers as possible and note the important features for each one. We need to know where they get their data from, which backbone they operate on. We need to know pricing, number of connections, transfer limits, bandwidth allowed, and so on. There’s a lot of information to gather and we have to have a way of fairly comparing providers.
We need to gather the best information we can and make it available for everyone to see. We need to refrain from censorship of this data. We need to know the good, the bad, and the ugly. We can make notes regarding any shortfalls or indiscretions by providers but we should name names and we must disclose all the information we find. Censorship in the guise of protecting people is a false narrative.
In fact, censorship can be a disservice because it omits information that people may stumble upon and act upon leaving them worse off than they would be if the truth was told openly. This is where the controllers of some discussion boards come in. For one reason or another, they make the unilateral decision to prohibit discussion of certain companies or topics and muddy the waters in the process.
I understand the fear of legal consequences but discussions of illegal activity can be mitigated with disclaimers stating the discussion is for opinion or educational purposes. Just because you discuss methods to rob a bank doesn’t mean you plan on actually robbing a bank. You just have to make sure you don’t cross the line with your comments.
It's not what you say—it's the way that you say it. Your right to express your opinion is protected no matter what beliefs you hold. What matters is how you use that right. If you tell people that an illegal activity is okay or you openly discuss illegal activity you have participated in, the government may be able to intervene. But with a few notable exceptions, nobody can restrict your rights simply because they don't like what you say.
Some message boards can be great sources of information with very helpful and knowledgeable people to answer questions. But if information is limited in scope or specifics due to whimsical or narrow-minded rules, people cannot be fully informed. People need a safe place where they can openly discuss Usenet providers and services without fear of over-sensitive moderators restricting speech.
Granted, some things not germane to the conversations at hand should be reviewed. Things like hate speech, offensive remarks, name-calling etc. have no place in a civil discussion. But limiting discussion of a particular company or service or method serves no good purpose. In fact, it can breed curiosity surrounding the true motivation of the gatekeepers of the conversation.
To be continued…
The first thing that caught my eye was just how many Usenet providers were linked in one way or another to Omnicron / Highwinds. 77% of the sites I found had a connection to Highwinds. Wait. What? Yeah. Just let that sink in for a minute. 77%. That means when you are trying to decide on who you want to buy your Usenet service from, there’s a 3 out of 4 chance you’ll be getting at least some of your data from Omnicron / Highwinds.
Highwinds has both US and NL backbone access so even if you try to use two different providers to make sure you’re covered on both backbones; you may wind up getting the same data. I said ‘may’, so you can stop shouting at me. If you’re a casual or uninformed user you can see how you might easily get duped into paying twice for the access to the same data.
This is the part that got under my skin so to speak. I’m very sensitive to the needs and the problems new Usenet users can encounter. I hate to see anyone get taken advantage of and with all the different Usenet providers in the marketplace rip-offs are all too common. To make matters worse, there are sites that smother information and discussion surrounding what I call the Omnicron / Highwinds Influence as well as sites that may meet with the disapproval of some. But we’ll get back to that later on.
Another problem related to Highwinds is the amount of data that may be accessed by these associated providers. The number of retention days from Omnicron / Highwinds can vary from provider to provider. It all depends on the agreements between these providers and Omnicron / Highwinds. Since these agreements are often shrouded by the cover of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), the details remain the topic of speculation and not fact. The result is some providers are, in fact, better than others if your main concern is the level of retention.
Some Usenet users believe that the type of ‘takedown’ policy a provider has makes a difference in its retention of data. Takedowns are how a provider handles requests from copywrite holders to remove data from their storage. The two types of takedown policies are DMCA and NTD. Some users believe having one provider that uses DMCA and another that uses NTD increases their chance of finding the data they seek.
However, even some of the providers that have an NTD policy are backfilled from Omnicron / Highwinds which has a DMCA policy. That means you might think you have better odds of finding what you want with an NTD provider, but part of the data that’s available may be affected by a DMCA policy so your NTD provider may not be as good as you thought.
As you can see, we keep coming back to the area of backfills over and over again. Arguments for or against the use of certain providers has to be tempered with how the provider is backfilled. This is because the backfill can sometimes represent a larger part of the provider’s data than what it stores locally. And since the local storage is more likely to be newer files, the backfill becomes more and more important when searching for old data.
There’s a lot of discussion on message boards about what is the best combination of providers to get the most bang for your buck. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see someone seeking advice and some very knowledgeable and helpful people suggesting the best combination. They quickly point out which provider is backfilled from another provider and suggest alternatives for better coverage.
The majority of suggestions for better combinations are dead on in my opinion and this advice is a great service to the Usenet community. The problem is, people have to keep asking this question over and over again. I haven’t found any site or message board that gives an accounting of which combination of service providers will yield the best results for the lowest cost. I don’t think there is one ‘perfect combination’ but I do think there are ways to trim the list down.
To be continued…
Okay. Let’s get this out of the way right up front. Omnicron / Highwinds is the 800-pound gorilla in the Usenet Provider game. Nobody even comes close with regard to their market saturation. They provide entrée to data either directly or through backfill agreements with the vast majority of the people you see selling Usenet access. Sometimes their connection to providers is known or can easily be found out. Other times, however, their connection is clouded to say the least.
Over the years, Omnicron / Highwinds has absorbed a few smaller operations and has priced others out of business. Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not trying to make them out to be this big, evil corporation (at least no more so than any other big corporation). Like any other capitalistic endeavor, Highwinds is just trying to make money. And in that regard, they are no different than any other Usenet provider. So, there’s that.
The only problem I have with Omnicron / Highwinds is the secrecy of some of their activities. Namely their connection to Usenet providers that don’t readily disclose the part Highwinds plays in their operation. If you search long enough and hard enough, you can find the links. But boy, you have to really do your research. Just trying to do a Google search won’t cut it.
So how did I do my research? Like many of you, I started with Google. But you have to try many different search criteria to get anything meaningful. Next, I looked at the public information on a number of websites that cover the Usenet business. Which ones you ask? Here’s the top-level sites I visited:
Some of these sites have more information than others. Sometimes you find information on one site you can’t find anywhere else. Sometimes the information on one site conflicts with another. Information can be confusing when you try to compare one site to the other. There’s no telling where they got their information from so even if you verify one source with another, they could both be wrong.
The only real way to know for sure if the information I found is accurate is to go to the source and they ain’t talkin’. Why would they? So, I did the next best thing. I visited each and every provider I could find and gathered as much information as I could directly from their website. Yeah, that was fun considering I found over 90 different providers that are still up and running. And lord knows how many leads ended in dead sites.
I put together an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of what I had found and that sheet just kept getting bigger and bigger. There are tons of different things to consider when comparing Usenet providers so tracking everything would be unmanageable. So, I settled on tracking the following: Reseller Name, Website, Backbone, Provider, Backfill, Owned by, Connections, Monthly Fee, Retention, Free Trial? and Takedown Type.
And mind you, this is the whittled down list. There’s data like server names, ip addresses, newsreader software included, newsgroups searched, and a lot more. I figured that most of that stuff wouldn’t be of much interest to a lot of readers so I left it out. And, I’m sure there are details I didn’t even think about.
So, what fruit did all this research yield? That’s next.
To be continued.
Let’s get back on track with this backfilling thing ‘cause that’s a good lead. It does bring up a few interesting points though, especially if you look at DMCAs/NTDs. What’s that you ask? Good question. In the US, a Usenet provider may receive a request to remove a file because hosting that file violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). In the EU, usenet providers may receive something similar known as a Notice of Take Down (NTD).
If Usenet providers don’t want a big lawsuit, they must remove a file once they receive one of these requests. Movie studios and TV production companies and syndicators are understandably very interested in this. Obviously, they don’t want people watching their stuff for free. So, when they find out a copy of their precious movie or tv show is available from Usenet provider ‘X,’ they send them a takedown request.
This is the point where backfilling comes into the conversation. Let’s say that provider ‘X’ is backfilled from company ‘Y.’ The Feds find out that a movie is on provider ‘X’ and requests that they remove that file. Provider ‘X’ says “Hey, that’s not us, we get that file from ‘Y.’ So, the feds go to provider ‘Y’ and say remove that file. Provider ‘Y’ then starts acting like Bart Simpson. “What, no way dude. Nobody saw me do it. You can’t prove it. That’s ‘X’ dude.” And the Feds kinda just look at each other.
This is why backfilling is so secretive. The people that provide the backfill don’t want anyone to know they are doing it so the Feds will leave them alone. The people getting the Backfill don’t want to admit it ‘cause they’ll look like they’re not as great as they claim. On rare occasions some providers will admit to having a backfill so they can show that they have a ‘backup’ so to speak and they can tout that they can offer users more storage. But not everyone does that.
More often than not backfilling is the dirty little secret of Usenet. This is compounded when you find out that the provider you thought was independent is actually a subsidiary of a major provider. We all know about big companies gobbling up little companies. Many times, these big companies let the little company continue on as if they weren’t owned by somebody else. The big company doesn’t want consumers to know that they own this little, great company.
Eventually, the truth comes out. But the longer they can keep things a secret, the better. But wait…there’s more. Hold out for the free steak knives. Sometimes these big companies even start up small companies that they advertise as a great little independent company so they can create a new revenue stream. This is beneficial to them if they see sales drop because people think of them as the ‘big bad guy.’ Now that takes balls.
All of this backfilling and under the table connections between Usenet providers makes finding out the truth extremely difficult. This is, in fact, the shell game. These companies move around the pea (your file) under the shells (the various providers) and you’re stuck trying to figure out which shell has the pea (who actually has your file). One shell or company could charge you a lot to find your file and another could charge your less. But the reality is, the person moving these shells around is the one making the real money.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to play three card monte with my money. I want to know what I’m paying for. I want to know who actually has the files I want and I’d rather deal directly with them than a third party who’s charging a markup for no good reason. That’s why I started this search. That’s why I want to expose the scams, the fake companies, the false prophets of Usenet. I am by no means an expert. I’m just a common guy with common questions.
Finding the truth is hard sometimes but I think it’s worth the effort. Next up, we’ll delve into the relationships between providers and try to look behind the curtain of secrecy. Some of this information is public and easily found. Some isn’t. We may never know the whole story but we can learn enough to get by. At least for now.
To be continued.
One word I read about appears to be a good clue to my search for source of Usenet data. Backfill. It’s sometimes referred to as ‘supplement’ as in ‘they supplement their local data with links to other providers.’ As I understand it, some Usenet providers keep some data locally on machines they own and then have access to other data from people that have more storage capabilities than they do.
Usenet data is stored in such a way that the newest and most accessed files are kept and the oldest or least accessed files are deleted to make room for new stuff. This makes sense because no one could afford to store everything ever uploaded to the Usenet. It would just cost too much to build and maintain. So, old and rarely used stuff gets deleted to make room for the new stuff.
This is where ‘retention’ comes in. Meaning, how far back the storage goes. Days, weeks, months and even years. Some providers brag about having 3000 days of retention which translates to a little over 8 years. Now that doesn’t mean there isn’t data that’s older than that. Some old files may get accessed a lot so the providers keep those files around because they know people keep looking for them.
So, the claim of a long retention period implies that they have a lot of stuff. And, providers that can claim a higher retention period seem to be better than ones that have a lower retention period. Of course, this is only important if you are looking for older movies or TV shows that may not have been uploaded recently. Some old titles get uploaded once and then don’t get uploaded again for a long time. Other old titles get uploaded because a new version like a Blu-ray edition just came out.
If you are a user that usually only looks for the latest Movie or TV series, then retention isn’t a big deal. New stuff that gets uploaded is quickly shared between Usenet providers and they can store that data locally. These local storage data systems have a lot more turnover of files than some of the bigger Usenet players. That’s why new stuff is so easy to find.
Retention is also affected by what is called backfill. Since many Usenet providers have limited storage space or retention, they partner with bigger players for access to their data. In other words, they backfill the limited data they make available with data from someone else. And this is the clue that helps me find out what I want to know. Sometimes it’s easy to find out who the little guys backfill with and sometimes they’re very secretive about it.
Some providers don’t even acknowledge that they are using data from someone else. That’s a little sneaky in my opinion. And I even read that some providers actually buy regular user accounts from a big boy provider and sell the access as if it was their own data. That opens up a whole new can of worms.
If you believe in honor among thieves, you would probably find that practice just too much to handle. On the other hand, there are probably a lot of users that could care less where the data comes from as long as they have access to it. If we’re really honest about it, a thief copies a movie to a digital file, uploads it to the Usenet, and then more thieves download that stolen movie. So, everyone that uses Usenet for downloading illegal stuff is a thief.
One thief pointing a finger at another thief for stealing the stuff they stole is kinda funny. And when mods in a forum or on Reddit act like police trying to prevent this kind of thing, it looks even funnier. So, let me get this straight. A person steals a movie and gives it to ‘A’ to share with other people. Then another person ‘B’ steals that movie from ‘A’ and shares with other people. Then, another person ‘C’ starts acting like a cop working for ‘A’ and says ‘B’ is stealing from ‘A.’ Have I got that right?
Oh, I can hear it now. “Yeah, but ‘A’ did all the hard work to make that movie available for people and ‘B’ is making money without doing all the hard work.” “That’s not fair!” (insert facepalm here) What about being fair to the people that made the movie in the first place?! It’s the pot calling the kettle black. So, a thief has the right to complain that another thief…. Oh, Christ. Just forget about it.
To be continued.
As I continue to sift through hundreds of Reddit posts, I do find nuggets of useful information. To be sure, Reddit can be a gold mine of information. But all my digging just leaves me in a maze and it’s easy to get lost. It’s too bad that a lot of what I think I need may have been censored. But why is that? It’s kind of silly to claim that those posts could cause legal problems. I mean, hell, the only reason people use Usenet is to pirate movies, TV shows, music and ebooks (Duh).
Sometimes these mods sound like Captain Renault shouting “I'm shocked! Shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.” Personally, I think there are other forces at work with these Usenet subreddits. I think the owners/mods have closer relationships with certain Usenet providers than is known. That would explain a lot. And if they don’t, then they have some rather puritan view of what should be discussed. Either way, they are stifling free speech.
Sometimes, I read about certain Usenet providers being scams. I read about users spending money on dry wells of data or even worse, no Usenet access at all. Those warnings serve the users’ best interests when they are factual. Sometimes they are just rants by people that have had a bad experience for one reason or another. Either way, those posts serve as caution flags for Usenet access buyers.
I guess the biggest problem I have with Usenet subreddits is it seems the mods allow a lot of posts on general information, and even some hard-core technical information. But things get kinda sticky when people start speaking about specific companies. It’s almost like there’s a naughty and nice list of companies and the companies that the mods deem naughty are prohibited from being commented on. Simply writing the name of one of these ‘naughty’ companies results in a bot deleting your post.
The mods will tell you that these naughty companies break their rules or do something wrong. Even if I give the mods the benefit of a doubt and say they are trying to protect people from corrupt providers, it seems that not allowing them to be named defeats the purpose of letting people know that these providers are ‘naughty.’ In fact, they may actually be doing buyers a disservice by not naming names. Wouldn’t it be better to have a list of known ‘bad guy’ Usenet providers so people would know to stay away from them?
They could have a whole section of names of bad companies, what they do that’s bad, and even have testimonials from people that got scammed. Of course, the mods would need empirical evidence of the alleged wrongdoing. Which wouldn’t be a big deal if these companies are that bad. Just saying “We’ve received reports” wouldn’t cut it. If they are gonna accuse someone of something, they should be willing to back up their claim with hard facts.
In some subreddits, mods basically say certain companies are bad and when another member of that subreddit asks for proof, the mods sound like my Dad. Why are they bad? “Because I said so!” But why? “I was told by somebody.” Who? “That doesn’t matter!” Why not? “Look, I told you they’re bad and why and that’s that!” But Dad… “Go to your room!!” I get flashbacks reading some of this stuff.
So much for free speech. I’ll have to keep digging.
To be continued.
My quest to find the path from a Usenet provider back to the original source of the files I want to download led to more and more questions. Obviously, no seller of Usenet access wants to disclose detailed information about their data. In fact, they want to give the casual user the impression that they have this huge room full of equipment storing all the data in the world.
Their sales pitch is full of phrases like “Tier 1,” “Fastest downloads,” “99% completion rate,” “Best price,” “Unlimited downloads,” and so forth and so on. Some like to promote that they have been picked as “#1” by a prominent tech website or they have the “best features and pricing.” My personal favorites are “Unlimited bandwidth” and “Highest retention.”
The art of marketing is not lost on Usenet providers. I understand the only reason all these companies exist is to make money. They certainly can’t afford to give away Usenet access for free. But as consumers, it is incumbent upon us to do our due diligence in researching our options rather than just being swayed by the fanciest website or the wildest claims. If we get scammed, it’s our own fault.
So, where do we go to get information on all these providers? Chat rooms and online forums are replete with suggestions and recommendations and arguments surrounding the question of which Usenet provider is the best. How do you know who to trust? Are these people Usenet experts or are they just cretinous blowhards? Where can we go to get some light shed on our search for the Usenet path to the origin of data storage?
Ooo! I know, we’ll go to Reddit! Surely the Usenet gurus on Reddit can share their wisdom. Maybe these maharishis of metadata can answer the question of the origins of Usenet data. Surely, they can clear the fog of marketing claims and show the path from a Usenet access seller back to where the data is stored. Maybe they can share the secrets of who all these usenet resellers get their data from.
(three days later…) Well, this won’t work. The people on Reddit have done a great job of listing all the Usenet resellers and which ‘backbones’ they’re attached to, they even give links to all these resellers. Some industrious soul even went thru the tedious task of building an org chart showing the structure of Usenet providers and resellers. (There’s a special place in heaven for that guy.)
But, alas, though there’s tons of information and some really good technical comments from some people that sound really smart, I only a get little closer to my goal. I keep getting bogged down in technobabble. All this information reads like Ikea furniture assembly instructions. Though I have some answers, often those answers only lead to more questions. I feel like I’m more confused than ever. But at least I’m confused at a higher level! Haha!
As I read through the hundreds of posts on Reddit, I notice a lot of posts that have been deleted. And I mean A LOT. It appears these posts have violated a rule the moderators of these various subreddits have established. I guess some of these posts were just the mean rants by heathens screaming like Usenet infidels.
But what if a few of these posts were by people attempting to shed light on the mysterious link between Usenet resellers and the dark forces that actually hold the data? Could they have been silenced? And if they were, why? I’m sure the ‘truth is out there.’ Do I need to call in Mulder and Scully? Are these censor-happy mods working for the cigarette smoking man? Nawh…that’s just too silly.
To be continued.
When I look at the Usenet Provider lists on Reddit and other sites, I’m left with one burning question. Are all these top-level Usenet Providers really separate? I mean, if I look at the latest Tree Map of Usenet providers, I see 10 different companies at the top of the tree. Are all those companies responsible for separate storage?
I know there’s some sharing going on. But from an end user’s point of view, am I paying for the same information twice if I have two different plans on ‘different’ backbones? Or, am I getting scammed because what I think are two different providers with two different collections of data really feeding me the same data?
Say I have one service that’s a US backbone and another service that’s an EU backbone, do I have access to two different sets of data or is it all coming from the same place? I know that most of the resellers have a small amount of data they store locally but the retention at that level could only be 30-60 days or less. They wouldn’t have the infrastructure to handle much more than that. It would be cost-prohibitive.
As I think this through, it gets even more complicated. What if the storage in a US facility (backbone) and the storage in an EU facility (backbone) are actually owned by the same company or at the very least provide backfill to a majority of mid-level or reseller Usenet Providers. We already know that there are different prices for basically the same info. It’s that backfill that piques my interest.
The main reason this is of interest to me is because I’m very interested in old retention stuff. Recently uploaded/new movies and TV shows are easy to find. Hell, that stuff spreads across everyone’s local data storage in a matter of hours. It’s the old, hard to find stuff that I’m interested in. I’m talking about uploads that go back 7-8 years. That’s where I do my real searching.
So, who is really holding the files I want? Where is data I get from my provider coming from? And, am I getting the most bang for my buck with my Usenet Providers? If I could figure out the actual path from a reseller back to the original source, I could make a better purchase decision. I could not only get the latest titles, but I’d have access to the oldest available titles at the best price.
Well, guess what. I think I have an answer to this last question and many more. In the next few weeks, I’ll have some very interesting results from some in-depth research. I think you’ll be very surprised at what I’ve uncovered. And, more than a few of you are going to take a hard look at the Usenet Providers who get your hard-earned money.
To be continued.
I am deeply concerned with the level of censorship on the Internet. Especially on Reddit where a handful of people act as content police for subreddits. Want to discuss a particular company or service? The Mods decide who and what you can talk about. Need information on a particular service? Your post may get deleted or you could even get banned.
Some web forums and discord servers are just as bad. How many times have you seen a rule that you can’t write about a forum or server other than the one you’re chatting on? The Mods say “We don’t care about other sites!” so don’t mention other forums/servers. When did things get so restrictive? When did we lose our 1st amendment rights?
Why are the masters so afraid? Saying that you are protecting people is just plain nuts. "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Could there be ulterior motives at play? Are the precious few dictating the limits of discussion by the masses for their own shady reasons?
Some places disguise censorship thru rules that limit or prevent new users from commenting. Now I understand that some new users abuse the privilege of speaking but from what I’ve seen, these people are the exception – not the rule. How are new people supposed to ask questions? Sometimes just reading isn’t enough. They need to ask questions to understand certain posts.
I set up a subreddit for the sharing of information about Indexers and a Lounge area for trading. There aren’t any rules that say “Oh you can’t talk about this Indexer” or “You can't talk about that usenet provider.” The only rules are to basically be nice to each other and I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
I even urge people to use throw-away user accounts so they won’t get in trouble with their Indexer service. Can you imagine other subreddits telling you it’s okay to use bogus user accounts? I’ll bet some mods of other subreddits are apoplectic that I don’t have rules about those things; not to mention that I actually encourage people to thumb their nose at those sacred rules.
Maybe the Reddit Gods will shut down my subreddit. Maybe they’ll ban me from Reddit entirely. I would hope that never happens but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. At this point, I can believe just about anything. It’s just so sad because I was around when the Internet and chatrooms were bastions of free speech. If someone tried to pull off that kind of censorship, it would cause riots online.
I may eventually have to add a discussion forum to this site just so people can have a place to chat. I’d rather not because I’m not well versed in building an online discussion forum. I guess I could re-learn vBulletin but man, what a pain that would be. I could start another discord server, that’s fairly easy. That may be the easiest way to do things.
In any event, I can promise you a few things. One, the only way I’ll ever shut down Nero’s Black Book is if they pry my cold dead fingers from my keyboard. And, I’ll keep the subreddit up until the Reddit Gods shut me down. These sites may not get a lot of exposure and the number of visitors may be small but at least I’ll have the comfort of knowing there’s at least a couple of places where people can get uncensored information and speak their mind without fear. And, the owner of those sites doesn’t make a dime off of the visitors that pass by. I’m kinda proud of that last fact.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
There’s a reason that’s #1 in the Bill of Rights. I may disapprove or even be offended by what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. That’s what free speech means.
I’ve received a few emails regarding Indexer invite trading. It is often hard to find a web forum or discord server where someone can go to seek or offer invites. Some sites that once had trading areas have closed those sections. Some sites are breeding grounds for shady invite sellers. You can’t join a forum or a discord server if you don’t know its name or url. This is compounded by the fact that most forums/discords frown or outright ban mentioning outside/other sites. It seems the only way for new Usenet users to get invites is to stumble upon someone in a forum or discord that will talk about Indexers and where to find invites.
There is a subreddit for invite trading called r/Usenetinvites but there are some rather strict rules for using that subreddit. Some of the old torrent trading sites have opened trading areas for Usenet indexers but those sites can be very risky to use. Even experienced Usenet user can find it difficult to ferret out sources for Indexers they’ve been looking for. Sometimes their old social media contacts run dry and they are left in the same stalemate as new Usenet users. So, what are people to do?
I discussed this with a few close friends and we have decided to try something. We created a subreddit named r/usenetindexerreviews where people can post reviews of Indexers they have used. Since talking about Indexers can be risky, we encourage people that visit that subreddit to use throw-away Reddit user accounts. This way, they can speak freely without fear of being banned from their Indexers. Another part of this new subreddit is a Lounge area where Indexer trading is permitted. Our hope is that this lounge can provide a place for people to meet to offer and seek invites. Offers and requests can be made in the lounge and then the transaction can take place via PMs.
We will monitor the Lounge for trouble resulting from shady traders. However, we can’t guarantee that every trader is trustworthy. So, users will have to use their good judgement in these transactions. Visitors to the Lounge will have to acknowledge that the subreddit mods are not responsible for any wrong-doing by traders. We can only police the Lounge as best as we can. This may not be a perfect solution to the problem of invite trading but at least we can try this little experiment and see how it goes. If things go well, it can be a home for trading. If we get swamped with rip-off artists and users start getting scammed, we’ll shut it down or at the very least rework the rules.
If you think this is a good idea, please join the subreddit. If you don’t you can still look around if you like or not. If you have any other/better ideas on how to establish a place for invite trades, let me know. I welcome any input you have.
Recently an acquaintance of mine asked me why didn’t I have ads on my site or at least accept donations? He just could not understand why I didn’t want to monetize my website. His exact words were “As this thing grows you could make some money off it. You could at least pay for your webhosting and the time you put in on it.” I told him that I only pay $36 a year for hosting and besides, there would probably never be so much traffic that I’d have to pay a higher hosting rate.
He just couldn’t seem to grasp the idea of doing something for free. He rattled on about at least covering the cost and wasn’t my time worth something and so on. I tried over and over to explain that it really doesn’t cost that much and since I’m retired, I have tons of free time. Then I tried to explain that I was trying to give back to the community for the dozens of people that have helped me in the past. That it was a kinda ‘Pay it forward’ type thing. I swear he was like a deer in headlights.
I’m sure there are some people that visit here and think ‘Yeah, this guy is up to something. He’s gonna be free until he gets some traffic and then he’ll sneak in an ad here and there or work a deal for free Usenet thru links or something.’ Well, here’s the deal. Do you have a hobby? How much to you spend on that hobby? Do you make money off that hobby? And if you do, would you do it for free anyway because you enjoy it? I would.
So, for all you cynics out there that think I have a secret agenda. I’m sorry to disappoint you. I don’t. I’m just some old coot with some time to kill and an idea that I could do something that might help people out.
White Whales (yeah, like Moby Dick) are Indexers people hear about but can never seem to get access to because it’s almost impossible to get an invite. Normally, invites to Indexers can be had with just a ‘Please’ or maybe a trade. Not so with a White Whale. Oh no. These puppies are harder to get into than Fort Knox.
Part of the alure of a White Whale is that you can’t get it. You’re like Tantalus. You know they’re out there, but they’re just out of your reach. The question is, are they really that good? Unfortunately, you’ll never know until you get in. That is, if you’re actually interested in getting in to begin with.
Let me begin by saying I’m gonna break the first rule of Fight Club (Private Indexers). Why? Because, the whole idea of keeping an Indexer a secret is silly. Let’s say I built an Indexer and I made the rules. My first rule is not to talk about my new Indexer. How the hell am I supposed to grow membership, even a limited membership, without telling someone about it?
I know, I know, people say ‘You don’t want publicity because you don’t want DMCA take downs or prying Law Enforcement eyes, or some other paranoid fueled logic. Benjamin Franklin said three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead. That holds true with the concept of not talking about a particular Indexer.
So, I’m here to say it’s ridiculous to have a rule to not talk about a particular Indexer. Why not just strictly limit invitations and leave it at that? Since Indexer owners can track who’s downloading what, it is simple to tell if a new user is scraping. If you find a user scraping, ban that member and the member that invited them.
Realistically, that’s about the most an Indexer owner can do. One way or another, word of the existence of an Indexer is gonna get out. Non-members need not worry about naming names and talking about an Indexer because you can’t be banned if you’re not a member in the first place. So, let’s stop using terms like ‘the Indexer that can’t be named’ or using non-alphanumeric characters to obfuscate the Indexer name or some other silliness.
Okay, enough about that. Let’s move on to some details about these Indexers. Most of these White Whales don’t have very expensive VIP fees. In fact, they’re actually quite low. The strict invite policies minimize scraping so they usually have NZBs that other Indexers don’t have. That, is what makes them better than some other Indexers.
Of course, this only really matters if you’re looking for something obscure or razor-edge new or something like that. Otherwise, a decent free indexer or a paid VIP subscription to one of the better Indexers will do just fine. If you consider all the content that’s already available from most Indexers, the number of ‘secret’ NZBs available on a White Whale are very small in number.
So which Indexers are White Whales? The answer is subjective but I’ll give it a try. You’ll have to remember all that follows is my opinion and the way I list them is in no way a review/ranking/rating. I’m just listing them by how hard I think they are to get. Okay?
Let’s start with NZBs.in since it’s the one people who have heard of it seem to want it really bad. You’ll probably see it typed as N***.in or something like that. It’s the ‘He who shall not be named’ Indexer. If you chat with the username you used to sign up for it and you talk about it openly, you may find yourself banned for life.
Next is omgwtfnzbs.me which is almost as hard to get into but gets talked about more than NZBs.in. You’ll often see people use omg or OMG when talking about it. This Indexer only makes invites available a few times a year and there’s a very short window (7 days) for when the invites can be used. So, when they come available and you’re lucky enough to score an invite you have to get it and use it fast or you’ll miss out.
Lulunzb.com doesn’t get as much chat as some other White Whales. I’m not sure why. What little chat there is about it is split on if it’s a good Indexer or not. Please remember that negative chat about an Indexer can be due to three reasons. One, people affiliated with other Indexers are just trash-talking. Two, the owner or top users want to squash talk about it so they plant false bad reviews so people won’t talk about it and that keeps them safe. And three, they actually stink.
That’s only three of the White Whales out there. There are a few in Europe like unfr.pw (French) and newz-complex.org (German). And, there are some European forums that have restricted access. There may even be some sites on the Dark Web only accessible with a Tor browser and invited access. So, there are most likely some White Whales that almost no one has heard of lurking in the depths of the world wide web.
In the end, White Whales are nice to have but probably not necessary. There are some very good Indexers that can be easily had and if you pony up for their VIP subscription fee, you’ll have good success in finding most of what you want. I think most Usenet users would agree that with a good service provider (and maybe a backup on another backbone) coupled with two or three decent VIP Indexers you’ll have everything you need.
If you take a look at some of the sites that rate Indexers, one of the first things you'll notice is that they can't agree on which Indexer is the best. My big question is how is it that this brain trust of 'professional' Indexer reviewers can't seem to agree? Or at lease a few of them to agree? It seems to me that if one Indexer was the shining star of the pack, then it would be found at the top of the list by at least 3 or 4 of these people that are reviewing them.
There are numerous possible answers to this vexing question. Maybe they all have different criteria for what makes an Indexer 'the best.' Maybe the NZB searches they performed were for different things (e.g., Movies, Software, ebooks, Music, etc.). Maybe they were using different Usenet Providers. Maybe they were using different computer configurations. Maybe they had different ISP speeds. Maybe they were testing at different times of the day or from different locations. Maybe they were accepting payments to promote one Indexer over the other. Maybe the owner of an Indexer asked them not to mention an Indexer's name so the Indexer's owner can keep it's presence secret. Or, maybe all of these reasons and more affected their decisions.
Not everyone that searches for NZBs uses the same equipment, ISP, Usenet Provider etc. And not everyone is searching for the same one movie or software package. We all have different things to consider when choosing an Indexer. And that's why I preach the gospel of 'Get/Use what works best for YOU' regardless of what anyone else says.
Reddit is replete with so called experts giving detailed explainations as to why their opinion on the best Indexer is correct. They will trot out the old 'Oh that Indexer scrapes this or that other Indexer' routine. Or they'll give an explaintion that uses technical jargon that most people won't understand. Or some other reason that seems to make perfectly good sense. The bottom line is the same. No two users experience can be the same unless they are both using the exact same computer at the exact same time searching for the exact same thing. It's just not possible to duplicate all the variables.
The only real answer to the question of which Indexer is the best is 'The one that works best for you and you are happy with.' That means testing all the Indexers you are interested in. It may even mean you'll have to pony up some money just to try them out. It may mean you'll have to search endlessly for someone to give an invite or trade an invite with you. If you are serious about using Usenet and Indexers for your downloading needs, then this is the reality. The best that you can do is read as much as you can regarding Indexers and see what other people are saying.
Don't just read one source either. Reddit can give you a start, but seek out web forums on the subject. Join some discord chennels, do a google search. You can't get in shape sitting on a couch and you won't learn anything about Indexers from one source. Even me.
This isn't Usenet related but I just had to get this off my chest. I have Reddit pushing recent topics to my email just in case there's something I want to read. Normally it's just post after post about some new IPTV service so I just delete the email most of the time. But today I decided that I'd finally had enough and stopped the Reddit push.
How many hundreds of IPTV services do we need out there? It seems like there are more IPTV service providers than there are users! And the claims they make are just plain silly. 'You get 10,000 channels!' 'You get all the latest movies!' '1 million 24/7 channels!' 'Porn from every country in the world!' 'Lowest price on IPTV in the world!' You get the idea.
In the past 8 years or so that I have used IPTV I've only had three regular providers. And the only reason that I had three is because the first two closed down. Full disclosure here, I'm not a sports fanatic and I never follow any network TV shows so it's not like I really need IPTV anyway. But I do understand Footy Fans that go absolutely ape shit if they can get their sports fix. I really do.
Every once in a while I might try out a service that a friend recommends but even then it's only for a couple of weeks. I only do that to see what kind of interface they use or if their streams are any better than what I already have. For the most part, I could go weeks without even watching. And I have to wonder how all these new providers make money.
I guess there are now three things that will survive a nuclear attack...Cockroaches, Twinkies, and new IPTV providers.