How to Access Free Newsgroups

Written by manny frishberg
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Newsgroups are open discussion forums on the Internet, broken into categories and subject areas, carried on a network of servers called USENET. You can read and post articles or messages to newsgroups once you download the necessary software---called a "news client." The articles are traded between the interconnected computer systems over a variety of networks. USENET grew up in the early days of the Internet, years before the World Wide Web, and even today many USENET sites are maintained by universities, research labs or other academic institutions.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Computer (desktop or laptop)
  • Internet connection---either high-speed or dial-up is acceptable
  • News client
  • News server

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    Get a news client and server

  1. 1

    Find a news client (software) and install it on your computer. Internet Explorer and other web browsers have built-in news clients. Or, if you prefer, download free client software from Tera News ( or another NTTP Client website.

  2. 2

    Choose a free news server. Most servers charge a monthly or annual fee for connections to the world of newsgroups but some news servers provide free public access. Google and Yahoo! both have directories of links to free public news server(; as do Baloc's Public News Servers,, and others. Tera News, among other servers, offers free uncensored, unlogged, NNTP news server access to all newsgroups with some download limits, or unlimited accounts for £7 per month.

  3. 3

    Choose Newsgroups. Once you've signed up with a free news server, go to its list of thousands of available newsgroups and sign up for the ones that sound interesting to you. You can also employ Google Newsgroups to get newsgroups through the Web. Google's database goes back to the early 1990s and is a continuation of the old DejaNews service.

Tips and warnings

  • There are at least 100,000 newsgroups, not all of them available from any one server. They are broken into seven major categories, called hierarchies: "comp." about computers; "news." about the Usenet itself; "rec." for recreation and hobbies; and the ever popular "alt.'" for alternative, plus some others. After the dot comes a second term that narrows the subject down to something like rec.humor or alt.celebrities.

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