Ever since the advent of the Internet, there has been a consistent, wide-spread demand for secure and efficient communication platforms. Several offbeat groups have come up at different points in time, but the three main giants in the online communication platform scene remain the peer-to-peer file-sharing platforms: Usenet, Google Groups, and Torrent. Usenet has been around almost as long as the modern Internet itself but was mostly kept under the wraps by its users. Google Groups came into the scene as a strong contender in the early 2000s and remains a moderately popular platform. Torrent has been the most popular file-sharing platform in terms of the sheer number of users. All three platforms have ample user bases, the comparison among them is mainly about the way they function.
Torrent or more specifically, BitTorrent became a huge sensation around 2005 with an innovative approach to file sharing. Instead of downloading a file from a single source, Torrent introduced seeding from several sources making the process faster and a bit less transparent. Torrent works on the concept that every user is also a source. When you download a music/book/movie file, you also become a host for other users. The main attraction of this platform is the ease to use and the fact that it is free. However, Torrent is constantly attacked by copyright authorities and several torrent sites have been taken down. It has become necessary to use a paid VPN to maintain anonymity during file sharing to stay free of piracy cases. This takes away the free-of-cost factor from it.
Google Groups is a communication platform that is primarily known for connecting people with shared interests in several areas. This platform is popular among students and academics for the ease of reaching out to many people at a time. Interestingly, Google Groups has its origins in Usenet. Deja News, a repository in Usenet, which was widely popular at its inception, eventually had to shut down due to privacy issues and came to be acquired by Google. Eventually, Usenet became accessible through Google.
The main distinguishing feature of Google Groups is that it is subject to supervision by the admins of the groups. They can keep a check on the messages for sensitive or private content and favor more relevant discussions. While Goole groups are preferred by some communities, the format can be off-putting for people who prefer a freer system.
Although Usenet has been around for much longer than both Torrent and Google Groups, it is much less known. However, Usenet has had a growing user base over years and Usenet itself has undergone several transformations to be what is now the most reliable and efficient file sharing platform.
Usenet offers a very attractive package of fast and secure communication along with access to different repositories for all kinds of files and messages. Its users can gain unlimited, uninhibited access to files on any topics through repositories called ‘newsgroups’. The newsgroups function much like Reddit pages in their format. However, Usenet users might require a paid subscription for access to non-text files. XS Usenet, the earliest Usenet service provider in the industry, offers free packages to its first-time users to help them familiarise themselves with the format. Additionally, they offer short-term subscriptions and unlimited speed for their paid users.
Torrent vs. Usenet
• Usenet has an advantage over Torrent in the fact that a file gets sourced from one server through a direct connection to it. This way, unlike Torrent, download speed doesn’t depend on the number of active peers for seeding at any point.
• Security and anonymity is also taken care of, with SSL encryption protocol. Torrent is an unencrypted server which has been known to be prone to piracy notices and copyright claims. Most Torrent users are forced to opt for a paid VPN which evens out the affordability factor between Torrent and Usenet.
Google Groups vs. Usenet
• The primary difference between Google Groups and Usenet is the extent of moderation and supervision that goes into them. Google Groups is a highly monitored platform while Usenet is not. The only provider-controlled factor in Usenet is the retention period which is the extent of time a file is allowed to be on the server. Due to storage limitations, this period might vary depending on the service provider.