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TweakNews review

Independent news server with high completion

Our Verdict

TweakNews gives you speedy downloads with high completion rates, a free newsreader with search, plus a capable VPN for a low price.

For

  • Exclusive lifetime discount for TechRadar visitors
  • High-completion independent servers
  • Consistent download speeds
  • Recently upgraded to 3,400 days retention
  • Free newsreader with search + VPN

Against

  • No Bitcoin support
  • Retention could still be higher

TweakNews is a veteran Usenet provider that combines a great service in terms of speed and file completion with a full set of extra features at a good price. 

For € 7,50 /mo with a yearly plan -- a special lifetime price available exclusively through TechRadar -- you get unlimited downloads with uncapped speeds. This includes a newsreader with an integrated file search and preview feature plus a free zero-log VPN account.

Retention is 3,400 days for all binary and text newsgroups. This is over 9 years, although there are still other providers out there like Newshosting and UsenetServer that can get you a couple more years of retention. We should note, however, that TweakNews’ retention was 2,500 days earlier this year compared to 3,400 currently -- an upgrade of 900 days for all users. 

TweakNews has a 99.99% completion rate, a near perfect score in terms of article availability. This is probably the best you can get and given the low cost of their unlimited download plans and included newsreader, TweakNews is one of the better values available on the market. 

Privacy

The company’s privacy policy states that it only uses your personal information for its own operations, and won't share it with others unless you give permission or it's legally required to do so. With that said, it explicitly states that they have never sold any customer data to 3rd parties.

Minimal signup information is needed to get started. Enter your email address, preferred password, then select your country. From there, choose your payment method followed by your payment info. Interestingly, no name or address is required to open up an account if you select Credit Card or PayPal. If paying with iDeal or bank transfer, you will need to provide your name to complete your signup.

TweakNews doesn't provide any significant information on how it might log or monitor users, or respond to legal requests. There is still built-in privacy protection via SSL support, which secures your traffic with 256-bit encryption. 

There is a Zero-log VPN service included with all accounts to secure your web traffic. It’s a fairly ordinary service with servers available in around 50 locations. The included software makes it simple to connect, and once you’re connected, all of your online activity is virtually anonymous from that point on. 

Performance

We signed up with TweakNews and were taken to a web dashboard with details on our subscription, billing info, and account settings.

User and server names were visible up-front, making it easy for users to set up their TweakNews account with any news client. The signup email we also received included the same information, along with a link to the included newsreader called UsenetWire. This software is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. We downloaded the Windows version, which installed quickly and once opened, we were prompted to input our TweakNews username and password. 

The newsreader is built well and quite easy to use. The main area includes a search bar where you enter a keyword, then click the Search button. All results will display within a second or two below with the file name, file size, post date, and newsgroup the files were posted to. What we particularly liked is that you can search by the file type you want (images, video, audio, etc) and also hover your mouse over most of the results to see a file preview popup. 

For advanced users, the UsenetWire newsreader will process NZB files that you import. This can be done manually or by drag-in-drop into the client. An auto search feature, currently in beta, is also available where you can schedule a search to run during a specified time frame. 

TweakNews' VPN client certainly isn’t pretty, and also has only the bare essential features: OpenVPN UDP or TCP protocol selection, a choice of ports, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, a kill switch and some startup rules.

Location selection is straightforward. A single list displays countries, cities, servers, load and ping times, and you can sort by any of these fields with a click, for example to find the lowest server loads based on your current location.

Unfortunately, whichever location we chose, the VPN refused to properly connect. We eventually tracked this down to a problem with the client's DNS leak protection – turn this on and it uses a Highwinds DNS server which seemingly didn't work on our network.

The good news is that once we understood the cause, it wasn't a big deal. Disabling DNS protection allowed us to connect and still gave us an alternative DNS server, so we could safely use the client.

The bad news is that if we hadn't figured this out for ourselves, support wouldn't have been much help. We reported our connection symptoms and the DNS error, and a day later we received a reply asking us to test our system using new credentials. A further day after reporting that this didn't help, support told us they would need to escalate this to someone else, and asked us to send screenshots of our settings.

This inability to quickly recognize our DNS issue suggests to us that it's not a common problem, and your devices are unlikely to be affected. But the experience also suggested that TweakNews support may struggle with tricky situations, and if you do have issues, it may take some time to get them fixed.

Once TweakNews VPN was set up and working, the service delivered everything we needed. VPN performance was above average. Our nearest UK server gave us speeds of around 34 to 38Mbps, and the best US servers still managed an average of 23Mbps, comparable with a good specialist VPN provider.

News server speeds proved to be even better. Single connections managed around 8Mbps on our test system, and ramping up to eight allowed us to consistently achieve 40Mbps. Adding more connections doesn't always scale up as you'd think, but with 30 available on even TweakNews' budget plan, we suspect there's going to be more than enough performance here for most people.

Final verdict

If you’re looking for the highest completion rates possible, then it’s worth checking out TweakNews. It also delivers fast download speeds and several extra features like a free newsreader with search and a capable Zero-log VPN.