I’ve long been a fan of usenet for all my downloading needs. I’ve always found torrents a bit fiddly, and a bit hit or miss depending on the age and popularity of what I was looking for.

With more and more torrenting sites coming under fire, I more regularly find myself talking people through the basics of setting up and using usenet. So here’s a basic primer for all

First things first, usenet is gonna cost you some money. yes real money. Though the costs aren’t prohibitive, and even less so if you’re only a casual downloader.

You’ll need to subscribe to a premium usenet provider. Previously I used to advise people to pick between newshosting and astraweb, but these days I’m singularly recommending astraweb. Specifically look out for their 1TB for $50 deal. Its awesome value, and the credits never expire etc. So unless you’re downloading a horrendous amount (over about 300 gigs a month) then this is the one for you.

Now that you have a provider the next step is an nzb client. There’s only one choice worth considering here and its sabnzbd. It’s a top class free/open source nzb client. Its easily configured, and once up and running hides most of the complexity involved.

Now that you have sabnzbd installed, its just a simple matter of feeding it some nzb‘s.

Again the recommendation here has changed of late. These days nzbmatrix is your best bet. Its has the best coverage and most active community etc. It costs $10 for a membership, though you can use the site for free (limited to the last 20 days of nzb’s. The previous champion in this area was I still have a membership there, but an increasing amount of NZB’s not being represented there has meant that its crown has well and truly slipped. Newzbin is not free (the typical charge is 30 pence per week, though make sure to avail of the half price christmas special each year).

Other NZB options include

And thats pretty much your lot.

If you’re considering dabbling, but aren’t sure where to start .. then start small. Install sabnzbd, buy some credits from  astraweb, and play around with some of the nzb sites I listed. It’s likely you’ll fall in love with one or two of em, and never look at the others again .. though YMMV.

Happy usenet’ing.


PS : If you get into the arena of downloading television on a continuining basis (ie as soon as it airs) then be sure to checkout sickbeard. Its essentially like a PVR for usenet downloads and tracks whats you’ve downloaded and when something next airs etc. Its awesome.

Note : 12/12/12 – Closure of newzbin2 and nzbmatrix …

So in a post nzbmatrix world – sites (which are still open) are

And anything in the OP of < Currently only has a small backlog – but he’s talking about a server move shortly. < VIP only, but open and been around a long time. Payment via bitcoin only. (if anyone can work out how to buy bitcoins easily – let me know).

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