How does Usenet work?

Long before the World Wide Web was even a vague but exciting idea, Usenet served as the world’s biggest discussion board. These days Usenet also contains the largest collection of user generated files on the globe. Therefore, Usenet is composed of text based newsgroups with discussions about any topic you can imagine, and user supplied files like music, software, videos and eBooks.

Inherently, Usenet is a decentralized network for the distribution of postings. Using it is very simple, as the user only needs to search for the topic he’s interested in. Hundreds of millions of messages or articles are categorized and distributed into so-called newsgroups. This content is stored on millions of Usenet server computers and forms the core of Usenet. Its method is based upon each news server sharing messages and articles with other Usenet news servers, to ensure that every news service provider possesses the latest and most current copy of a message. Therefore the servers often provide the same data differing only retention time. That means, some servers can provide you with a message for up to three years while others delete it automatically after a few days. And not only Usenet works like this, news servers are connected in a decentralized way too and exchange information with each other. Indeed there’s no duplicate content on the basis of the facts of distinct message ID’s.

For the record, there is no one in charge of the whole system. However there’s always somebody in charge of a particular news server. The appeal of Usenet is based on its decentralized structure as well as its storage time and fashion of spreading articles and files. Just keep in mind that Usenet doesn’t store content and postings but rather distributes them.