If you’ve been on Usenet, you’ve probably been introduced to the concept of “Usenet retention.” There’s a range of opinions on how important retention is and what newsgroups really need to be saved. We argue that the more retention you have from your Usenet provider, the better. And here is why.

What is Usenet Retention?

Usenet retention is the measure of how long your Usenet provider keeps files and text in newsgroups. We’ve discussed this before, but in brief, Usenet works by storing posts on fast, global servers. Unlike other download types, which rely on other people, with Usenet you can access binary and text articles with consistent, fast connections.

Because Usenet service relies on their own servers to store newsgroups, they occasionally run into storage issues. It takes hard drive space to store all of that, particularly when you factor in backups and redundancy. So a smaller Usenet service will often have smaller retention rates because they simply can’t afford the servers to keep so many newsgroups’ worth of data.

Newsgroup retention can range from as little as a month to as much as nearly 13 years’ worth of posts. Depending on how many connections your Usenet service gives you, that can drastically change how fast you access articles and how many posts will be available to you.

Type of Files Retained

There are basically two kinds of Usenet posts: text and binaries. One way that some Usenet providers try to split the difference on retention is to offer higher rates for text posts while only keeping binaries, which take up more space, for a few months.

Text Posts

Text posts are what started Usenet. Many of the forum conventions that we’re familiar with today started with Usenet text. Jeff Bezos posted the first Amazon job listing on Usenet in 1994, which is an important historical milestone. Text posts remain important to Usenet since they can be entirely uncensored.

Binary Posts

This is far more common these days. Usenet is a great file-sharing platform. A file that’s been uploaded to a particular newsgroup is deleted when the retention runs out. So if you want to get more executables, videos, audio, and pictures that have been shared on Usenet, you need higher retention.

How Fast is the Speed on Usenet?

This is another area where your Usenet provider will make a difference. Depending on the quality of their servers and connections, you might experience drastically different speeds.

Fortunately, there is a correlation between Usenet speed and Usenet retention in most cases. The longer they store articles, the better their servers, and the faster their connections, generally.

Will My VPN Service Change That?

That rather depends on your VPN. Most virtual private networks cause a certain drop in Internet speeds, and that obviously applies to Usenet. But due to throttling, you might actually get higher speeds.

So when you’re looking into a Usenet provider, make sure that you get the highest retention possible so you’ll be able to see the most content.

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