What is a Newsreader?

What is a newsreader you ask? Good question, actually it’s quite simple – A newsreader is a computer program or app that does exactly what the word sounds like, it reads news or articles on the Usenet. All newsreaders work the same in basic concept – you plug in a Usenet server hostname, a user name and a password and the newsreader connects to the Usenet. The first thing the newsreader will do is download the list of available newsgroups or topics so that you can choose your favorite groups or topics of interest and get ready to start downloading and reading exciting and fun news articles and discussions on the Usenet

Reading Messages and News with Newsreaders

Newsreaders make it quick and easy to plug right in to all of the messages and news stored on the Usenet. To read news and post messages back and forth to other people, newsreaders work exactly like a high powered email program. The first thing you do is to pick a newsgroup to read from (like an email inbox), then the newsreader shows a list of all messages or news articles you can choose from to read. In a similar fashion you can also create new messages to post in different newsgroups so that you can carry on discussions with other users all over the globe.

Downloading Binary Files w/ Newsreaders

In addition to being able to browse and post messages on the Usenet, Newsreaders also let you download and upload files to share with other users on the Usenet. Since text is the only kind of input allowed in Usenet messages, binary files are stored as specially encoded text – this encoding is called yenc – y encoding. Large files, say a video file for instance, is broken into smaller parts of yenc text – this means more articles to store the whole file. After you select all the articles or parts of a file for download, almost all modern day newsreaders will grab all the parts, decode them and re-assemble them back into the original video file. The video file if it is large will likely be compressed in RAR archive format to minimize download time. Today’s Usenet is much different from the “Old School” Usenet – these days rather than browsing a newsgroup and selecting parts (articles) manually, it is customary to use an index file called an “NZB” to download all the parts of a file at once without ever even having to looking at the messages in the newsgroup. Modern day newsreaders will open NZB files by default and start downloading immediately.