What is a newsreader?

A Usenet newsreader is PC software or, increasingly, a web site which allows you to browse Usenet messages from a Usenet news server. Google Groups is the prime example of an online Usenet newsreader. It is also the most complete archive of Usenet text messages known to exist. However, Google Groups does not provide access to Usenet binaries such as images or video. Some examples of PC-based newsreaders would include Outlook Express and Forte FreeAgent.

The problem with PC-based newsreaders is that you must have them installed on every computer you use for Usenet access, and browsing and decoding binaries is much more awkward and time-consuming then a website which has already decoded, thumbnailed, and indexed all the binaries and simply allows you to browse thumbnails. Web-based newsreaders usually also provide advanced search capabilities across all binaries on the server, which a PC-based newsreader cannot do. Most newsreaders mentioned have both free and paid services/products.

MP3 and full movies are often posted to the Usenet as well, although the selection of MP3’s is negligible compared to most any file-sharing service such as Kazaa, and movies are extremely time consuming to find all the parts, download, and decode, and you dont know until you have finished the process whether what you downloaded was a decent copy of the movie you wanted, or a horrible recording made by a camcorder in a theatre, or wasn’t even the movie you wanted in the first place.

Software is also posted to the Usenet, but running executables posted on the Usenet is a great way to introduce a virus, trojan, or spyware on your computer, so beware.