Usenet Server Connections Explained

As you know, a server can handle thousands of requests for data simultaneously – otherwise the internet would be a much slower place. Imagine if Google could only do one search at a time – you would have to wait your turn for a long, long time. (Some of you old-timers will recall that this is exactly how bulletin-board systems, the precursors to the internet, used to work.)

Usenet “news” servers must be able to handle thousands of users uploading and downloading insanely huge amounts data simultaneously. In order to prevent one person from hogging the server, the number of simultaneous connections per person is limited.

Each ISP imposes a limit on the number of connections for their news server – usually between two and five. The best way to find out this number is to call your ISP and ask them. You can also keep increasing the number of connections with your newsreader software until you start getting errors.

More than one connection would be needed, for example, if you were to use two different newsreader programs. You might be using NewzScape to download files from a video newsgroup, while also using ezGroups to browse through JPEGs in a picture newsgroup. Each program must logon to the news server and occupy a connection.

If you are using the free Usenet server that comes with your internet service, the number of permitted connections will likely be very low – two perhaps. If you use a premium news service, the number will be much higher – dozens even – with Easynews.

The more connections you have, the faster you can download files – up to a point. If you want to max out the data flow down your internet pipe, more than one connection is needed because Usenet servers don’t pump data like a fire-hose. There is overhead where things slow down, such as when your newsreader software asks the server for a post. Also, the server has other users to worry about, and there may be a short delay before it gets to you. There are also glitches that cause a connection to slow down or drop completely. And finally, sometimes the news server can’t pump data fast enough to fill your pipe. Many of us have super-fast connections now, and it is a big job to max out such a wide pipe.

In fact, to save money, your ISP is probably throttling their Usenet server to deliberately make it run slower. Typically, they sell you something like a 3Mbs internet connection, but only allow their news server to run at 250Kbs – a small fraction of the total capacity. In that case, you can “cheat” the system by using software that allows you to make two connections to the news server and download files at 500Kbs. Or better yet, sign-up with a third-party company like Easynews which can far exceed your ISP’s pusillanimous Usenet service.

If you have access to several Usenet servers, you can use all of their connections at one time. A program specially designed for that is SuperNZB. For example, you may get 2 connections with your ISP’s free server, 4 connections from your school’s news server, 4 connections with the company news server, and 10 connections with Easynews. If you can access the school and company servers from home, then you could use SuperNZB to download with a total of 20 connections, which would be very, very fast.