Ever since Australian ISPs have been given the go-ahead to maintain metadata about their users’ online activities, downloading from torrents has become increasingly risky.
If you’re downloading from a torrent site directly, there’s a strong chance you’ll be flagged and penalized by your ISP.
The mildest punishment will be your speed getting throttled, and the harshest, you may be served a copyright infringement notice that could lead to a heavy fine.
This is besides the fact that torrents are open to third party sniffing your traffic – basically, anyone can see your IP on the P2P network – so anyone can access the ports that you’ve opened up for downloading.
This is why its’ so important to use a VPN for torrenting to secure and anonymize your traffic – and this can make the speed slower than it is (which may not be a lot depending on the seed to peer ratio of the file you’re downloading).
Enter Usenets: paid (but not expensive) file hosting networks where you can download almost all of the stuff you’ll find on torrents, but over a secure SSL network that will see you communicate only with the Usenet service provider.
Because of the encryption, no one will be able to tell what you’ve downloaded, and because it isn’t P2P, you won’t be sharing your bandwidth with anyone.
What are usenets?
The Usenet definition is a collection of user-submitted notes/messages on various topics (including sharing of large files) via newsgroups. This is an early form of non-centralized networking that has gained popularity once more due to its privacy. There’s a long list of Usenet providers who let you download files from global usenets; the best Usenet providers offer unlimited download capability for heavy downloaders.
The Usenet vs torrents debate ultimately boils down to a free vs paid debate: for anyone who can afford the usually modest fee, Usenets are a much more secure and reliable option compared to torrents.
How to use Usenet?
Here’s how to use Usenet to download movies, games, songs and so on:
- Sign up with a Usenet provider such as UsenetServer, EasyNews, NewsHosting. These are decent service providers – all paid – but they do have trial offers that will help you decide if their service is good enough for you.
- The Usenet provider will give you a Usenet client program that lets you browse through thousands of postings in newsrooms around the world, and download files via NZB files that only the client can read (kind of like .torrent files for Bittorrent clients).
- While it isn’t necessary, I’d recommend installing a VPN if you live in a country where internet monitoring is sanctioned by the government. Even though, due to the SSL encryption, your ISP (and anyone else) won’t be able to tell what you’re downloading – they’ll still know you’re accessing a Usenet provider which could result in download throttling anyways.
The is a worst case scenario, though, and won’t likely happen anytime soon because of the private nature of Usenets.