BlockNews review

A more niche Usenet offering

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

BlockNews has positioned itself as a specialist provider for block plans, and it’s commendably affordable as such, with impressive retention rates.

For

  • High retention rates
  • Affordable

Against

  • UI could be better
  • No VPN or newsreader service

Choosing the right Usenet service can be a tricky matter, considering the amount of providers out there. You’ll want to go for a platform that offers lots of retention, high-speed performance and a decent user interface while hopefully remaining affordable at the same time.

All these aspects are key considerations for a Usenet service, but for some folks, the latter budget concern may be a particular priority. And that can be a problem when it comes to providers who charge users on a monthly basis, with plans which can get quite pricey, particularly if you only use the service intermittently.

If you know what you want to get out of a newsgroup service, and you’re an intermittent user with an idea of how much you want to spend, then typically block accounts are the best way to go. With these, you pay upfront for a set amount of data rather than on a monthly basis. As the name suggests, BlockNews has built its competitive Usenet service around this business model, and it’s vying for your attention. But is it any good?

Performance

As we say constantly in our Usenet reviews, it’s important to choose a provider that offers ample retention if you want to get the most out of newsgroups. The bigger the retention period – which simply refers to how long articles are kept for – the longer you can access quality content. BlockNews currently offers over 3,000 days of binary retention, which is right up there with the best providers.

The firm also offers two years of text retention. Just like many other providers, BlockNews is constantly improving its retention capabilities, so in the future you may find these numbers keep going up. Which is always good to see.

Depending on the block plan selected, you have the ability to use up to 50 connections – the norm among premium newsgroup services. Another great thing about BlockNews is that you have the option to choose between two server locations. The firm owns a server on the East coast of the United States, as well as one in Europe. As a result, you can (hopefully) expect fast speeds wherever you’re based in the world.

Security and UI

Security is a primary concern with a Usenet service, in terms of protecting not just the personal data you give the provider, but the articles you download and upload. With BlockNews, you’re able to connect to groups using SSL encryption (as with the majority of rival providers – although not always with their most basic plans).

Unfortunately, there isn’t an additional VPN service to add an extra layer of protection here. But generally speaking, SSL is effective, and it’s offered free to all users. Should you ever run into any issues with the platform, or if you have questions about the service, you can get in touch with the company via its website.

In terms of user interface, BlockNews does look quite outdated when compared to other providers, but it is a more niche service. A mobile-friendly website is something most people expect nowadays, though, and you don’t get it here. You also don’t have access to a newsgroup browser service, so you’ll have to make-do with using your own technical knowledge to get around the platform.

Pricing

The most important thing to realise here is the fact that this is a block-only platform, meaning there are no monthly subscriptions – you can only buy a block of data. The cheapest block costs $2.75 (around £2.15), which gives you 5GB of data. At the other end of the scale, you can buy yourself 3072GB of data for $240 (around £185). As ever, the more allowance you buy, the cheaper the cost per GB.

Once you choose a plan, you can pay through PayPal, credit card or Bitcoin. Whatever the case, every plan comes with the aforementioned free SSL encryption and access to two servers. There’s no free trial here, but you can always purchase a small block to try the service on for size. It’s worth mentioning that BlockNews is the sister site of Usenetnow, which offers unlimited Usenet accounts at affordable prices.

Final verdict

BlockNews is a more niche option in the Usenet world, and you’ll only want to plump for this provider if you’re going down the block-purchasing route. It’s not hugely expensive, and you get lots of retention, too. The company also puts security first, although it would be nice to see improvements made to the user interface.