The service claims 3,357 days retention over more than 100,000 uncensored newsgroups. That's around 9 years, way more than you'll get with competitors like Giganews, Easynews and Tweaknews, and comparable with the likes of Usenetserver.
The company runs its own multi-gigabit server farms in the US and Europe to maximize performance, optimistically stating "this guarantees you the fastest Usenet access available from any Usenet server… period."
Free 256-Bit SSL Encryption is on hand to secure your connections, and you can add a VPN to even the most basic plan for $4.99 (£4) a month.
Excellent Windows, Mac and Linux apps make it easy for beginners to search Usenet, in order to find and download whatever they need. It's branded as the Newshosting Browser, but it looks to us like a rebadged version of Usenet Wire. You could download and use that for free with any provider, but that doesn't detract from its value here.
Newshosting's Lite plan gives you 50GB of data allowance and rolls unused gigabytes into the following month. Support for 30 connections should allow for speedy downloads, and it's yours for $10 (£8) a month.
The Unlimited plan drops the data limit but otherwise has all the same features. It's fair value at $12.95 (£10.35) a month when paid annually.
The high-end XL PowerPack plan lifts the maximum number of connections to 60, includes the VPN and throws in a free Easynews account with 10GB of data, enabling access to Usenet from your web browser.
The standard price for XL PowerPack is $15.83 (£12.65) per month with annual billing, but there's also an exclusive TechRadar Pro deal available for $8.33 (£6.65) a month.
If you're still unsure, Newshosting offers a 7-day trial to sample the service for yourself. The standard trial gives you 30GB of data allowance, but again, a separate TechRadar Pro offer gives you up to 750GB. Both trials require entering your payment details, but you're not billed until you've used your data allowance or 14 days have passed – whichever comes first.
Signing up with Newshosting requires handing over your email address, credit card or PayPal details. There's no support for Bitcoin or related payment methods that might help to preserve your anonymity.
The terms of service lists the usual exceptions to this rule, though, pointing out that the company may monitor the service and share information "to satisfy any law, regulation or other government request, to operate the system properly, or to protect itself or its users."
Every VPN plan gives you the option of a 256-bit SSL connection, giving you some degree of protection. If that's not enough, adding the Newshosting VPN to your package will give you a valuable extra layer of anonymity. You get access to 70+ servers in 17 countries, clients for Windows and Mac, and basic setup instructions to use the service on other devices.
Signing up with Newshosting is straightforward, with just about everything you need presented on a single page. We chose the XL PowerPack plan, selected a term (1, 6 or 12 months), entered our email address and chose a payment method (card or PayPal are the only options).
A convenient welcome page presented us with everything we needed, from download links for the Newshosting client, to setup files for the VPN, login details for setting up our own Usenet reader, and links to support documents if we ran into trouble.
We downloaded the Windows clients for the Usenet browser and the VPN. Both installed easily enough, although bizarrely they added vague and almost identical shortcuts to our start menu: 'Newshosting' for the browser, 'newshosting' for the VPN. You'll quickly realize which is which, but life would be easier if the installers had used more specific names in the first place.
Newshosting's Usenet browser is a rebadged version of Usenet Wire, a powerful tool with an intelligent search feature, handy bookmark system, video previewing and more. Neat touches include the ability to schedule background searches at regular intervals and automatically download the results, and a comprehensive Settings dialog enables customizing the browser to suit your needs.
The VPN has a basic client with few configuration options, and supports only two simultaneous connections. But the underlying network seems to be using Highwinds' excellent servers spread across 21 countries, and there's nothing at all wrong with its performance. We managed download speeds of around 35Mbps from our nearest UK server, 25Mbps when connecting to the US, performance levels which are close to some of the best specialist VPNs.
We ran a few simple tests to check retention, trying to locate and download binaries from six and seven years ago. Newshosting fetched them all, including several files that other big-name providers (Giganews) couldn't find.
Our final performance tests were almost as successful, with Newshosting able to achieve 40Mbps download speeds using only four connections. We're not quite sure that matches the claim of being the "fastest Usenet access available from any Usenet server… period", but it's certainly one of the faster providers around.
From performance to privacy and its discounted price, Newshosting delivers in almost every area. There are a few wrinkles – the VPN is fine for Usenet but too underpowered for general use – but overall it's a quality service. Check out the trial for yourself.
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