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Retention Wars Heat Up
March 16, 2009
Thomas Mennecke
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For many years, Giganews held the title as the retention champion. Its 200+ day retention has been long admired by file-sharers, as it provides assurance that dusty NZB files will still point to something relevant on Usenet. Lately, however, things have begun to heat up in the newsgroup market. Other top tier providers such as Astraweb and the Dutch provider XS News are pressuring the Usenet market into ever higher retention periods.

It could be argued that Giganews kicked off the retention build up we’re currently seeing back in July of 2007. This upgrade was significant because Giganews was the first Usenet provider to break 200 days of retention. In July of 2008, Giganews announced yet another upgrade, this time bringing their capacity potential to 240 days. However, because of the quick growth, users of this service noticed that retention rates had fallen to around 200 days before slowly recovering. While these moves helped solidify Giganew’s unrivaled position as the retention leader, other providers would soon offer comparable capacity.

Astraweb, another large top tier provider, has slowly chipped away at Giganew’s retention title. Their first move came in January of 2009, when Astraweb announced an impressive capacity of 270 days. Astraweb’s significant retention capacity and low cost access has contributed to this news provider’s “cool” factor, and Astraweb is a frequently discussed topic on various newsgroup forums.

So what is it about Astraweb that has everyone talking? Forum discussions often point out three qualities: they’re inexpensive, have excellent service, and a solid reputation. They also have an “alternative” image to Giganews, which has helped fueled online discussion about this service. The bottom line, most users note, is that for $11 a month, the service is hard to beat. And it doesn't hurt that Astraweb just announced yet another retention upgrade.

“Astraweb is pleased to announce that we have just completed an infrastructure upgrade to increase our retention storage to 365 days. Currently our server storage capacity stands at 365 days.”

Astraweb’s current retention is ~210 days, so there’s still quite some time between now and 365 days.

Astraweb and Giganews aren’t the only top tier providers turning the newsgroups upside down. There’s also XS News, who could prove to be a game changer. XS News is the largest newsgroup provider in the Netherlands, and one of the largest throughout Usenet. In January of this year, XS News completed a substantial upgrade to their server infrastructure, giving this provider a stunning 400 days of retention capacity. This provider is only at ~130 days currently, but in time will be neck-and-neck with Astraweb and Giganews.

At the moment, XS News isn't marketed in the United States, but this is about to change. XS News is expanding throughout Europe and will soon be coming to America. What impact will a third large provider have on the US newsgroup community?

Good question. Both Astraweb and Giganews have their camps of loyal followers and offer plenty of material for precipitating forum discussion. Throwing a third large provider into the mix will make things interesting, but beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess as to how well XS News will do in the United States. If they provide fast service that meets the standard set by Giganews and Astraweb at a reasonable price, they might be able to slip in comfortably and fulfill the desire for a third top tier provider.


This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Newsgroups/Usenet :: Other

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