Thursday, May 17, 2012

Torrents vs Newsgroups - Which one is best?

For many years now I have used many different file sharing technologies. From the original BBS boards, then onto IRC DCC servers, Napster, torrents and now newsgroups. I often get asked. Which is better? Newsgroups or torrents?

After much testing and investigation I now have the answer for you. It depends.

Each technology has its advantages and disadvantages. I will try detail them out in this post.

Torrents

Torrents work by giving you a link that connects you directly to many other file sharers at the same time. The basic idea is that you download a small piece of the file you are looking for from many different locations. This is a peer to peer technology.

Advantages:

- Torrents are a lot better for larger files (over 5GB in size). Generally it is easier to find a complete series or large application to download via torrent websites than it is to find via newsgroups.
- It is easier to find old and more obscure data with torrents than it is with news groups.
- Torrent applications are better written and more sophisticated than their newsgroup counterparts.
- Torrent websites are almost always free.

Disadvantages

- If a file is badly seeded torrents can be very slow.
- Often slower downloads than newsgroups.
- It is easy for other people in a torrent swarm to record who is downloading what.

Example of a torrent website: http://www.thepiratebay.org
Recommended software to download torrents: http://www.utorrent.com/

Newsgroups

Newsgroups are a giant server, or collection of servers that serve files to clients. Generally a large file is broken up into many smaller files and then you download a .nzb file that allows you to connect to all these separate files to download them and then rejoin them. This is a server to client technology.

Advantages:

- New files come down at full speed on most paid for newsgroup servers and some free newsgroup servers
- New files appear quicker on newsgroups than they do on torrent websites.
- Generally your downloads are significantly more private with only the server operator having access to who is downloading what.

Disadvantages:

- Complete series are near impossible to obtain. You would have to download an episode at a time.
- The retention time on a lot of newsgroup servers mean that a lot of the time, older files you are looking for will no longer be available.
- Public newsgroup servers have dismal performance and normally to get the file you want you will need a paid for subscription from private news server providers.

Example of a Newgroup website: http://www.newshost.co.za
Recommended software to downloads .nzb files: http://www.unzbin.com/

So in the end what is best for you?

Well it depends what you want and your requirements. If you want the quickest downloads for the latest files and you are paranoid about privacy. Newgroups are the better way to go. The downside here is that to get a quality service you are going to need to pay.

If you want to download complete series, older files, completely free service and are not too paranoid about privacy. Then torrents are the way to go.

All in all, torrents are more versatile than newsgroups, but each system has its place.


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