January 9, 2009

" One of the more compelling reasons people may choose the newsgroups over BitTorrent is because of its non-exclusionary nature. Sure, The Pirate Bay might be the largest BitTorrent tracker and the largest P2P network, but there are many smaller, privately held trackers that have content that TPB does not. That's fine and all, but unlike BitTorrent, the newsgroups generally don't operate in this fashion. Providing you're on a good news server, what's available to one individual is available to all.

One factor that might inhibit this is retention - or the amount of time that content remains on a news server. Unlike P2P networking, there is no exchange of information between peers. The relationship is purely client-server based. And like anything else in life, there are degrees of quality to this relationship. A good news server like Giganews or Astraweb might have over a half year's worth of retention, while a poor quality service might only have a few months’ worth. Retention is perhaps one of the most important selling points, and as Giganews has proven, it's even more important that the subscription price.

In the last few weeks, there has been a flurry of retention-increasing activity among the major newsgroup providers. Giganews is the current leader, with about 240 days. Their retention level took a dip in recent weeks because of 'unprecedented' growth, however, a massive upgrade is currently underway which should push this to an exceptional level. Although a specific retention hasn't been published, we wouldn't be surprised if Giganews pushes their retention level beyond 300 days.

Astraweb, Giganews' chief rival, also broke into the 200+ day retention barrier. In a surprise move, Astraweb announced last week they would not only increase their already generous 160+ day retention, but bust past Giganews' as well. In their announcement, Astraweb's recent upgrades should give subscribers almost 270 days of newsgroup retention. While this number is superficially higher that Giganews, this number won't be reached for at least two months as content and time builds. And by the time that does happen, Giganews may already have completed their upgrades.

Just because the top tier providers are making headlines doesn't mean the smaller servers aren't getting in on the action. Take NewsHosting and the once troublesome UsenetServer. NewsHosting became the third provider to declare 200+ days of retention, announcing a notable 250 days of retention. With an already impressive 150 days, the build should begin immediately and reach 250 days within a few months.

And today, UsenetServer, which once had a problematic history, puts its troubles behind with a retention upgrade of their own. UseNetServer stated today their service "has expanded Usenet newsgroup retention for its customers from 101 days to 125 days, the company announced today. Customers in all service plans can now access this increased retention without any configuration changes and without any additional cost."

As hardware prices continue to plummet, it’s likely we can continue to look forward to ever increasing retention. "

Source: The March toward Higher Usenet Retention